Does anyone ever think they themselves are the "toxic" one?

(59 Posts)
ClockWatchingLady Fri 13-Jun-14 12:11:25

Just wondering. This is not about any particular thread, by the way, just a general question.

I always think it's quite possible that two family members, who each considered the other "toxic", could independently post on MN from their own perspectives, and have the world agree that the other person is the source of the problem.

YouAreMyFavouriteWasteOfTime Fri 13-Jun-14 12:18:53

agreed. I often think the OP is half of the problem.

LookingThroughTheFog Fri 13-Jun-14 12:28:26

It's tricky, because part of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is the genuinely held belief that you are absolutely fine. If their behaviour is ever shown to be unpleasant, it can cause a massive meltdown (and then they'll often conveniently forget.) That's part of the issue - needing that safety net of belief that you are absolutely perfect, and anyone who doesn't think so is obviously wrong.

It's difficult, because the opening post feels inflammatory. I have a 'toxic' father. He has NPD. I spent a long, long time dancing to his tune until it became dangerous for me, and even then I feel panicked and want to go back to the time when I was carefully stroking his sensitive ego and protecting him from all the ills of the world.

Do I think my behaviour has always been perfect? Hell no.

The thing is, if you live every day in that state of panic and guilt because someone close to you has NPD, sometimes the extreme reaction of cutting contact, not even bothering to buy a solitary birthday card, sometimes all of that is simply the most sensible thing to do.

From his point of view, he could probably pop up and say 'My DD won't see my dying mother! What sort of cold, hard-hearted cow did I raise? She couldn't be arsed to buy me a birthday card this year!'

But he'd probably also come out with 'and she won't even let me see my grandchildren.'

That, for me, would be the thing that would make me think 'NPD'. For a parent to go out of their way to ensure no contact between their child and another - something has usually gone very, very wrong. It's not a light decision. For someone to feel they have a 'right' to someone else's children - that for me says an awful lot about a person.

Sorry - didn't answer your question. I don't think anyone is perfect, but if you've lived with NPD for years and years, sometimes the things you do might feel extreme to people not within that situation.

WorraLiberty Fri 13-Jun-14 12:33:13

I know what you mean

A friend of mine is on her 3rd marriage and has never got along with any of her MILs or her SILs.

All in all that's 11 women in her family who she considers to be 'absolutely vile/toxic'.

Or 12 really if you consider how much he hates her Stepmother too...

Vintagejazz Fri 13-Jun-14 12:47:13

I know a couple of people who, wherever they work, end up dismissing all of their colleagues as incompetent, inadequate, difficult to get along with etc.

They don't seem to have realised that they are the common denominator in all of these unsatisfactory working environments.

Amilionmilesaway Fri 13-Jun-14 12:49:02

I often think it's going to be me when someone is bitching complaining about an annoying colleague blush

I did not realise how laid back I am until I came on here. So much of what winds people up wouldn't even cross my mind as being "a thing". So now, I worry I'm the insensitive oaf that is often complained about.

Toxic, I don't know. I have a tendency to tell people to take control of what they can and to stop complaining until you've exhausted all possibilities for making a situation better so I could well imagine a friend posting "my friend never offers me sympathy and just tells me to get on with things".

I am a nice person- honestly!

chanie44 Fri 13-Jun-14 12:49:31

We only ever get the posters version of events so you don't know why the seemingly toxic person behaves they way they do.

KingJoffreysBloodshotEye Fri 13-Jun-14 12:51:03

My SiL who I've gone 'No Contact' with now has some very narcissistic traits and it got to the point where I couldn't bear being around her.

Totally my fault. I should've put my foot down the first time her bullying started. Should've said no straight away. Instead I let her bully me continuously (did stand up for DS though) until I had a relapse with my depression and spent a week going through hell.

Now she'll be telling all and sundry that I'm ignoring her for no good reason and that I'm a bitch. She'll genuinely have no idea what's wrong.

hmm

Better late than never though.

Although now I've written that there has been several family members/friends who have gone 'No Contact' with her. It's never her fault though.

Canthisonebeused Fri 13-Jun-14 12:51:52

This has happened on MN between a mother and daughter. I think the daughter had a lot of support as the toxic mothers behaviour and attitude on the thread was very unreasonable and inconsistent. However I do remember at the time feeling that the mother did have a lot of vulnerabilities. Maybe brought on by her own behaviour but she was not at a particularly good nor stable place.

chockbic Fri 13-Jun-14 12:52:52

Yup NPD's are manipulative and clever.

Can work your ass off trying to please but it's never enough.

sillymillyb Fri 13-Jun-14 12:57:08

I worry that I am both toxic and narcissist. Even when I'm replying to threads I worry that I'm making them all about me (gawd, I'm paranoid about writing the below now!)

I've gone none contact with a lot of my seemingly normal family, and I would imagine they would blame me for that saying I was unreasonable.

I just get to the point where I can't process any more emotions connected to something though and it easier to walk away.

Vintagejazz Fri 13-Jun-14 12:57:16

There are some OPs where I immediately thing 'I'd like to hear that story from the MIL/SIL/Neighbour's perspective. But there are others where I take the OP's version as gospel and am probably often wrong.

DoJo Fri 13-Jun-14 12:57:32

I do sometimes read a post where the OP says that nobody likes them, and I think 'well - maybe you aren't particularly nice' but usually that's a completely inappropriate thing to say when someone is upset and asking for advice.

I sometimes try to hint at my real thoughts, along the lines of 'perhaps if you're shy, people think you're stand-offish' or 'maybe when you think you're being 'fun', others see you as dominating the conversation' or similar, but then I know a lot of that comes from my own personal experience, in the way that nobody can be truly objective.

I used to be astonished at how some people I come into contact with have any friends. I used to work with someone who I found so completely objectionable that I was gobsmacked that he had people who wanted to spend time with him, but they did. It became increasingly apparent that we were just REALLY different kinds of people, and his friends were all similar to him and probably would have been horrified to have to spend time with me, so I think 'toxic' is often used to mean 'someone whose views differ dramatically and irredeemably from mine', even if there is nothing inherently 'bad' about them.

weegiemum Fri 13-Jun-14 13:00:15

I'm sure my toxic mother thinks I'm the problem!

ShineSmile Fri 13-Jun-14 13:01:53

NPD is very interesting. I need to look into it more.

I don't think I am toxic but recently I have become a very me me person, and it saddens me. I suppose my situation doesn't help (my DD is up hourly at night and has been so for 6+ months and I'm v v exhausted). Hence, I try to avoid talking to family as far as possible (so I don't end up complaining, which I will do if they ask how I am and how I am doing). I'm also too tired to really follow up on how others are doing (I genuinely forget that so and so was ill etc).

chockbic Fri 13-Jun-14 13:04:50

My mother can never be wrong, whereas I think I'm wrong or not nice quite a lot.

This stuff gets under your skin.

badtime Fri 13-Jun-14 13:05:06

I think people are probably more likely to think they are the one with the problem if they aren't.

Toxic people don't really give a fuck about others, and they don't realise they are abnormal. Nice people do care about others, and worry that they are doing something to cause a difficult situation. Think of all the abused partners who finish an absolutely horrific story by saying, 'but I am quite annoying' or 'I'm no angel myself' or even 'it was my fault'.

I used to be like this when I was a child. I was literally the only member of my family who would ever disagree with my father, no matter how unfair or unpleasant he was being. Everyone told me this was my fault. Of course, in reality my entire family tiptoed around him, modifying their behaviour to appease him. He has actually mellowed quite a lot, but my siblings are obviously still afraid of him.

chockbic Fri 13-Jun-14 13:10:11

The stately home thread is a good one for toxic parents and NPD.

DoJo Fri 13-Jun-14 13:22:41

Toxic people don't really give a fuck about others

This may be true in some cases, but others express concern over the fact that they don't get on with others. Someone I know has ruined many of his personal relationships by being unbearable, but he has also damaged several by banging on endlessly about this situation to the exclusion of pretty much every other topic of conversation. He genuinely believes that he is 'misunderstood' and feels very hard done-by that people don't want to maintain contact with him. He endlessly analyses the reasons his marriage broke down, albeit without every really acknowledging his role in it, and will ask people for 'honest' feedback about his behaviour which he then ignores or uses against them at a later date (although I don't believe he has this end in mind when he asks). Basically, he gives the impression of being concerned about how he comes across, enough to fool people for years sometimes, but ultimately is unable to actually put these concerns into action or sustain a relationship unless it is entirely on his terms.

bauhausfan Fri 13-Jun-14 13:32:31

I come from a truly toxic family and am N/C with nearly all of them. That's is their fault not mine BUT after psychotherapy last year I realised that I was having a lot of fallings out etc with other people (always women) because of my expectations or my defences - purely because my relationship with my parents had programmed me to think that way, if you see what I mean. Therefore, in answer to your question I have been both the recipient of problem behaviour and then, in turn, have created problematic behaviour as a result. I'm hoping things will improve after my psychotherapy and now that I'm more aware of my part in things.

UnderEstherMate Fri 13-Jun-14 13:35:06

When it comes to my DM, I often think I can be. I still hold a grudge against her for a toxic childhood and that sometimes comes out in my own behaviour towards her. Not acceptable or excusable, but I only notice that I've done it after I actually have.

fragolino Fri 13-Jun-14 13:35:27

good question,

I think I am certainly toxifying round the edges grin after lots of exposure...

One has to look at ones intentions...motivations and so on...

fragolino Fri 13-Jun-14 13:37:35

Nice people do care about others, and worry that they are doing something to cause a difficult situation
the toxic people i know do a lot of talking about how much they love this and that but in reality, when push comes to shove, its numouro uno who comes first.

Eatriskier Fri 13-Jun-14 13:42:10

I think it shows in people's behaviours. With my sister, she thinks I'm a cold hearted bitch whereas I know she's toxic. I tend to think this shows in the way I admit that I could handle things better (tbh I wish I'd gone non contact years ago) but she refuses to acknowledge she ever does anything wrong even when confronted with proof, and often tells people such as my parents they are wrong to have views that differ with her hmm. I also see the way people will tell me when I'm in the wrong with no issue at all, but everyone has to pussy foot around her for the sake of peace.

So probably yes, it may be framed ultimately that both are told their relations are the toxic ones, but their reactions to posters who disagree with that probably are far more telling.

tiggytape Fri 13-Jun-14 13:50:32

I think that is a really good question too. There are some posts on MN where there is no doubt that the poor poster is totally on the receiving end of a very controlling or manipulative person. In other cases though, the person on the other side of the story would probably have good reason to feel hard done by as well.

Sometimes there is also just a very unfortunate dynamic.
A compliant, people-pleasing person ends up related to or working with a domineering one who treats them badly (even though they treat more forceful people much better).
Sometimes very tactless and self absorbed people end up with super-sensitive types who take offence at everything.
Sometimes people who avoid conflict to an extreme degree end up lumbered in a situation with a person who is at the opposite end of the scale.

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