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Some thoughts about "toxic" people

(475 Posts)
flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 14:51:03

I've read and contributed to a couple of threads where people are having to deal with what I would describe as toxic friends and family and the distress that it cause. I've had issues in the past with people this myself and it's really got me thinking.

Once thing that struck me from these threads, plus my own experience of toxic types is that there seems to be common "themes" - the one that immediately comes to mind is that the toxic person needs an enabler - usually a husband or wife who panders to their awful behaviour and colludes with them.

I know there's already a wonderful support thread (stately homes) but I thought it might be helpful to have a general discussion about how to identify these people and cope with them, plus a kind of support thing so folk know they aren't alone in having to deal with it alone?

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 14:54:05

One of the aspects of toxicbehaviour that bothers me most is...why do people do it?

To me, it's just so much easier to be nice and I must confess that I just don't understand it.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 14:56:52

I was an enabler for my mother for most of my life until last year when I commented in a very low key way on something awful that she kept saying to me over the years and she cut me out of her life and I have not heard from her or seen her since. She has since moved on to my younger brother as her enabler as she has literally no one left. She keeps him where she wants him by making him dependent on her financially. These people never ever change as they see no wrong and are highly manipulative and controlling.It is the enabler and the victim who has to change. It is so freeing if a little hard esp on days like today. In fact it was last mothers day and her treatment of my sister that first made me re think how I have dealt with her over the years. I have had masses of support though from family and extended family you will be really surprised if you reach out with how many people will say 'What took you so long to see what the rest of us have seen forever?"

Chottie Sun 10-Mar-13 14:57:03

Hi flip, I think it is a power and control thing with toxic types. I have to deal with a few people like this at work and I bet there are others who have to too.

TheCrackFox Sun 10-Mar-13 15:04:13

I'd like to know why they do it too. Is it genetic or learned behaviour? Do they even know they are doing it? Why are they not bothered (and even seem to enjoy) hurting the people they love? Are they even capable of love?

It is very confusing.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 10-Mar-13 15:07:22

For me, the word 'toxic' is a convenient but rather meaningless shorthand for any kind of antisocial behaviour. It makes a big difference whether the person is selfish, thoughtless, attention-seeking, acting out of malice. I don't think it's helpful to lump them all together. Like any other behaviour , it's part hard-wired into someone's personality and part learned. They do it because it gets them what they want. If someone, for example, learns quite early on in life that the most effective method to get what they want is to stamp and shout rather than persuade .. that's the path they'll choose. Habit. If someone is so insecure that they have to be the centre of attention to feel important they will deliberately lie, stir and generally create dramas that place them where they want to be.

So I prefer not to think of 'toxic'... more helpful, I think to observe a difficult person in action, try to work out what their motivation is and deal with it specifically. If you're faced with an attention-seeker, for example, either starve them of attention or (if it would work to your advantage) lavish extra attention.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 15:08:31

Yes noddy I bet it's hard on days like today.

I've seen a few threads from people who have difficult or non-existent relationships with their mum and it's kind of thrown into focus today, with a sharp reminder that all mums aren't lovely and/or loving.

My own problems with toxic people are more on the friendship/work side of things.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 15:13:09

I think they must know. My mum has not one friend or relation left and yet still on she goes

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 15:14:58

Cogito I understand what you mean...toxic is more of a convenient bracket that covers a myriad of unpleasant and difficult to handle behaviours.

CrackFox That's exactly how I feel about it all..just more succinctly put!

Agree they just like that? Did they learn how to be like that?

With myself, I've found that as I get older (and maybe wiser) I'm less tolerant than I used to be.

Some of the recent threads reminded me of a friend who I no longer see that, looking back, was a "toxic" character and had quite a dramatic effect on my life.

It's been mentioned that the best way to deal with these people is change how you react to them. I think that's very true.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 15:16:17

I think the word toxic is quite apt though as it refers to the fact that all these behaviours affect how the victims feel almost poisoned by the perpetrator.

Arithmeticulous Sun 10-Mar-13 15:20:04

I think they must know. My mum has not one friend or relation left and yet still on she goes

But on they go without the self-awareness that it was their behaviour that drove people away. If there's even a glimpse of cause/effect, they switch back to the default "it's never my fault" and never take responsibility for anything.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 15:20:15

noddy - there's one in my extended family who I thankfully have very little to do with.

She's now very elderly and has consistently driven away everyone (friends/family) with her horrible behaviour. She has a terrible relationship with her two adult children which is entirely her own fault, but blames everyone except herself for this.

She also has an 'enabler' husband who is terminally ill..now that she has realised he won't be around much longer her behaviour has moderated somewhat so I think there must be some self awareness.

Arithmeticulous Sun 10-Mar-13 15:21:47

What I find interesting is The Script, as followed by most cheating husbands and mad mother in laws - how do people unknown to each other spout exact the same shit?

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 15:24:02

am interested Arith, what is the 'bad mother in law script'

(guessing: undermining daughter in law's mothering, whining a lot about being ignored, etc)

Arithmeticulous Sun 10-Mar-13 15:25:57

Yep that's it : -)

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 15:28:47

My mum does know as several people have tried to talk to her over the years and she is intelligent so must see a pattern.

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 15:33:13

My pop psych take on this after years of observing enablers is that being with an abuser does something for them emotionally.

It allows them not to have any feelings or thoughts of their own. The bully takes total control and demands allegiance. It's kind of easy and, I think, allows the enabler to 'live out' aggression etc without actually having to do it. They live it through the destructive actions of the bully.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 15:35:42

Domestic I definitely didn't do that I thought I would protect my mother from all her critics in the hope that she would eventually see the light and wouldn't be totally without friends/family when that day came. I covered for her with everyone!

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 15:36:28

I reckon there is a "script" these people follow, and you also see it when people are talking about abuse they have suffered, there are common themes.

noddy I think you are absolutely spot on about them being intelligent. The one from my extended family certainly is and I have a close friend whose mother sounds very much like yours...and like the one in my extended family. These are common themes I've observed in the 'family' types:

- Very intelligent
- Have an 'enabling' partner
- Very negative/pessimistic outlook on life

Purely observational...not meant to be a 'defining' list.

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 15:37:26

sorry noddy didn't mean you. That's more about my dad :D

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 15:39:53

Noddy you don't sound like my definition of an 'enabler' in that you tried to STOP your mother harming others.

It sounds more to me as if you were being bullied yourself.

Flippinada yes agree there is a 'victim' script with the toxic type (I heard it from my mum every single day... awful tales of her impoverished childhood, which no doubt WAS pretty awful, but it was only when I grew up that I realised I didn't actually have to make something up to her for that, it wasn't actually directly my fault and I wasn't a 'spoilt brat' for having more than she did. Etc.)

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 15:42:26

Yes my mother fit all those Full of the poor me's but completely no empathy for anyone else and a bleak outlook on life. My mother says no one is truly happy and we are all faking it

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 15:42:51

Chottie and domestic I agree about the power/control thing. That bothers me a lot, but that's because I don't understand the impetus to 'control' someone.

What I mean is, I'd rather someone did something for me (eg make a cake, buy me a birthday present) because they wanted to, rather than because they knew I'd have a horrible tantrum if they didn't.

That reminds me of another observation...they place a lot of importance on outward demonstrations of 'love' (can't think of a better word to use) - expecting extravagant mothers day gifts, xmas presents etc and then creating merry hell if they don't get it.

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 15:47:19

oh god yes flippinada!!! I remember my dear mum's tantrum on xmas day cos she did not get enough attention/presents!!!

I guess that is another clue. Arrested development. They are stuck at an early/toddler like stage where they can only try to control.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 15:48:55

Isn't that an awful outlook noddy? How awful for you. I can just imagine how utterly draining that must have been to deal with.

domesticgodless again yes - so much relentless negativity, it's horrible.

It's the sheer nastiness, the unkindness, that really gets me.

StephaniePowers Sun 10-Mar-13 15:51:03

Yes the most 'toxic' person I know has a wife who is his champion, no matter what he does. If it doesn't tally with her view of how he should be seen, then either it doesn't exist or the person bringing it up is a liar.

The number of episodes where people have made it clear that he is treating them badly, over the years...she must have a script somewhere in her which tells her they are all Bad People.

The toxic one treats her with presents and public praise but in private he is distant and actually not often physically present. But not actually abusive. Though you can make an argument that the whole of their relationship is an abusive act, just based on the amount of fallout from his behaviour towards others which she has to deal with.

(Interestingly her father is distant and withholds love - her father hates him with a passion, naturally.)

But yes you see it time and again: the utter lunacy of the toxic person and the enablement of those around him/her. Another one I know surrounded herself with very geeky and inexperienced young men, who sort of formed a passive fan club. They were far too terrified to ever call her on her behaviour towards the women around her. (I was one of those women. I married one of the men grin) (When he was a bit more experienced!)

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 15:51:29

Yes flippinada my mother is like a teenager. I realised this when my own teenage son started to outgrow her in terms of development empathy etc

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 15:52:39

My stepfather puts up with endless shit but does nothing. BUt they live pretty separate lives and I think she chose him specially as he is a very quiet closed book

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 15:56:25

There really does seem to be something about bullying types that attracts people to them- you see it in schools etc as well.

It's funny how you can spot them as well many of them now rather bitter people left on their own. I got chatting with an old man who seemed nice in a cafe the other day and within moments he was moaning in really nasty terms about his 'stupid' grandchildren and how useless his children were as parents.

I immediately thought 'hmm, and none of it is anything to do with you of course'...and backed off a mile

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 15:58:38

I sold a flat about 10 years ago to an elderly lady who told us she had no children etc and we felt sorry for her and even helped her with moving etc A few years later we found out from the people below that she had 2 sons!

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 15:59:52

My friends mum is just like that. Have seen my poor friend in absolute meltdown, desperately anxious and stressed over what to buy for a 'good enough' present that will not result in aforementioned tantrum/screaming fit, also making sure her home is "perfect" (by which I mean show home standard, not just clean and tidy) for when parents comes to visit or she will be "in trouble" sad

Have thought of another one...constantly invades others personal space/privacy.

The one in my family used to read her teenage son's private diary and pass comment on it sad

It sounds just like my Nan. Miserable, critical, "dance to my tune" manipulative, me me me, insulting, croaky voice on the phone, hypochondriac, "no one ever rings me" (er, your phone makes outgoing calls!) guilt tripping, favourite picking, moneycentric, selfish old cow. Sounds horrible but I'm glad she's gone. My mum won't be desperately trying to prove herself to be told "I'm proud of you" or even "I love you". (I don't think she ever heard those words) sad
They're parasites, there's no changing them and I believe they're perfectly aware of what they're doing but do it for so long it's like a habit. They're so scared of being alone they find ways of manipulating the people around them so they feel obliged to stick around. At least, IME.

TheCrackFox Sun 10-Mar-13 16:02:39

Completely agree that they are intelligent but they could have gone much further in life if they hadn't wasted all their mental energies being vile.

My mum has had a tantrum (and thus made the entire day about her) on all my significant life events - 18th, 21st, buying a house, getting engaged, buying a wedding dress, getting married, havibg my first baby.
Something in me snapped, though, when I became a mum. I didn't have the time or energy for it and also knew that I would never pull the same stunts with my children.

Thingiebob Sun 10-Mar-13 16:03:17

I think most people who are described as 'toxic' and alienate friends and family through their self absorption and unacceptable behaviour, are often suffering from personality disorders.

For example, a few members of my family have cluster B pds and despite being intelligent, will probably never ever accept responsibility for their actions, never recognise that their behaviour is not the 'norm' or truly understand empathy.

As soon as I realised this about one particular member of my family, they lost the power to hurt me. Once you understand that this person is unwell and not functioning in the same reality as you, and there is little you can do to change their behaviour, the easier it becomes being around this person.

I know that some individuals have some clarity about their mental health problems and can recover or manage them, but some don't, and never will.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 16:04:10

noddy when I hear about elderly people who have no friends and family I do wonder why.

It might be because the family is horrible....and it could equally be because they're horrible and have driven everyone away.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 16:04:12

Mine criticises every present esp from my sister she has almost destroyed her over the years.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 16:05:00

I agree thingiebob

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 16:08:34

This is a great website here

I was in an abusive relationship with a nark, years ago now, but I found that I was still being sucked into a weird thing where I would defend myself all the time against somebody else's bizarrely distorted interpretation of my actions. As this site identifies so perfectly, an exaggeration, a lie, an insinuation, all of it was a 'drama bait' and I was taking the bait by trying to set the record about me straight. This person enjoys being cruel. I don't enjoy being on the receiving end of mean assessments and judgments though funnily enough. The weird thing for me is that I had successfully walked away from all communication with my nark x, and yet a minor character (so to speak) was casting me in that defend defend defend role.

StephaniePowers Sun 10-Mar-13 16:09:31

It's so hard to know what's a personality disorder, and what's just shitty, selfish behaviour and a lack of self-awareness, though.

And in the end what are people meant to do with the knowledge? You can't just put up with people isolating you and lying and tantrumming.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 16:10:44

"Completely agree that they are intelligent but they could have gone much further in life if they hadn't wasted all their mental energies being vile.
"

Yes, this exactly. That is the thing I find hardest of all to understand. And I have heartfelt sympathy for people who have mothers like this, seeing at first hand what it's done to people I love.

"I think most people who are described as 'toxic' and alienate friends and family through their self absorption and unacceptable behaviour, are often suffering from personality disorders. "

Yes, I think so too. Not that I'm any sort of expert on personality disorders, just from reading round the subject.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 16:12:46

They also absolve all responsibility to others I am the eldest and have had to mother all my siblings. I have stopped this but only my sister has been able to accept it my 2 brothers want me to keep doing it!

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 16:14:25

Ginebra great link, thank you.

Stephanie I think you're right. A lot of dealing with these people is about setting boundaries for yourself and being aware of what you are willing to put up with.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 16:14:31

Do any of you worry that you repeat patterns of reacting towards abusive /toxic people?

I know I will never have another relationship with a toxic person, but it there's one at work or in my circle of acquaintance, I somehow end up being the one that challenges them. I think partly it's because I see through them, and don't buy their version of them, and that makes them on a mission to smear/discard me (all of this detailed on that lighthouse site I linked to)

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 16:15:31

Thanks for teh link

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 16:16:02

Ginebra I find it a lot easier now that I have challenged my mother to do the same with others

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 16:16:02

what I mean is, just by seeing through these people you put yourself at risk. if you have your own view of them (rather than their view of them) then they are going to drama bait you/smear/discredit you

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 16:16:16

The family one is a great 'present criticiser' too. Nothing is ever good enough.

Funnily enough, the courtesy does not extend the other way and it's fine for them to give crappy, thoughtless gifts.

I actually have one of these threads at the moment, but no time to post properly on here right now, so I'm shamelessly marking my place and as soon as I have time I will be back to read properly and join in.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 16:21:26

That is a really good blog Ginebra, I'll pass it on to my friend (if she hasn't already seen it)

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 16:33:29

"Do any of you worry that you repeat patterns of reacting towards abusive /toxic people?"

Yes, I do worry about that.

My XP was a controlling bully and I have wondered if has a PD.

Reading the posts on that blog about dysfunctional families has really struck a chord with me. I suspect my SM of being a "toxic" type and my DDad an enabler (not just based on the blog, I have thought about many times over the years).

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 16:33:42

*thought about it

WildeRumpus Sun 10-Mar-13 16:36:57

My mum is a narc and never questions her behaviour because she sees herself as a victim. She was scapegoated as a child by her mum and so I think never ever stopped feeling sorry for herself, never took responsibility for her own actions and thinks we should all Molly coddle her and feel sorry for her. She is utterly incapable of self reflection because self criticism would threaten her very fragile ego. We bolster her ego by pandering to her need for attention.

I left tho when she cut all contact because I broke golden girl ranks and didn't have a wedding she could be centre of attention at. (We eloped smile )

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 16:40:40

Flippinada, I thought I was 'fixed' because I know a toxic person when I'm around them. Well, that much is progress I know, it's not to be sniffed out.

But another toxic person definitely 'targeted' me, and I wonder why that was. I am a people pleaser but I'm not motivated to please everybody and in fact wasn't afraid to let this person know I didn't think highly of them. I think it was a combination of that and my tendency to defend my actions all the time that made me a target.

If a 'normal' person with no history of toxic relationships is told "the reason you did such and such was because {insert worst possible interpretation of a person's actions} then, would a normal toxin free person just shrug and walk away? The normal toxin free non poisoned person doesn't feel obliged to set the record straight all the time? so, what I'm trying to ask here, is this what I need to iron out, my inclination to set the record straight all the time? this need i have that people not think badly of me, and that they understand me?

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 16:45:03

Flippin - that is so true. We have a narc in our family, it took reading about narcs on here that made me see exactly what they were. I used to think her husband controlled her, but now I see he just enables her. It hurts me that she is so vile - and only dh and I see it. So many of the comments she has made "I have no family" - bollocks "My dh is the best dh in the world" - no you caught him cheating and decided to get pg immediately shock she is rude and nasty, but she lives in a land of make believe. Emotionally she behaves like a 12 year old. She believes she is middle class - which is hilarious if it wasn't so sad. I feel so sorry for her children. She says she is the best mum in the world, yet over the last few months 2 of her children have been quite ill and she left it for ages before she took them to the drs. Amazingly most people do not see her for what she is, we have recieved a torrent of abuse from her dm and db as she was so vile about dh - and he decided to cut all contact. He would not have cut her out - she was given the opportunity to apologise for her attrocious behaviour - she stamped her foot and said I have done nothing wrong - its all dothraki's fault hmm I still haven't quite figured how everyone believes her. Its all the crappy lies - like next year we're going to Australia for our holidays - turned out to be 3 days in Cornwall. Then it was we are moving to this lovely village - er no your not as you've remortgaged your house so often that you will never be able to move. and breathe <thanks it was good to get that out>

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 16:45:44

I get what you're saying Ginebra.

Some people are definitely more susceptible to 'toxic' types than other and I think/suspect it's because they've learned somwhere or somehow that the 'toxic' behaviour is normal/acceptable/usual.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 16:51:03

dothraki I've learned a lot from MN too. It's a great space for discussing these things.

I first encountered the concept of 'Toxic' people when I noticed Susan Forward's book in the self help section of a book shop. What made me pick it up I don't know but boy what an eye opener.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 16:51:54

Why do you think they do the 'present' thing.

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 17:00:40

OH yeah - I forgot to mention the presents thing. We used to get a list of demands always very expensive (especially for her) and what do we get crapbollocks shite rubbish. Last year she gave dh a box of crispey creams - whilst she demands perfume at £100 shock

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 17:02:18

I've often wondered about it noddy and I don't know.

I think it's about what the present symobolises..so if they have a big, extravagant present it must be because they are a marvellous person. Does that make sense?

Being nasty about presents is a control thing, I think. If presents are never good enough its a way to keep someone perpetually in the role of trying to please, constantly trying to find the right thing?

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 17:05:06

Also with the present thing a lot of 'toxic' types are all about show and how things look on the surface.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 17:05:50

My mother used to spend £££££ on xmas presents for us but never saw us or phoned us all year! Then she would say 'Why would I want this?" about things given to her.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 17:06:50

My mother the queen of show She once rejected a house based on the fact that she thought her boss at work wouldn't be impressed by the exteriorgrin although he has never visited her

Narcissists are very disappointing as gift-givers. This is not a trivial consideration in personal relationships. I've seen narcissistic people sweetly solicit someone's preferences, yes I am talking about you MIL ("Go ahead -- tell me what you really want"), make a show of paying attention to the answer ("Don't you think I'm nice?"), and then deliver something other than what was asked for -- and feel abused and unappreciated when someone else gets gratitude for fulfilling the very request that the narcissist evoked in the first place. That scenario has happened at least twice to me now with regards to Christmas presents so now I do not ask her for anything.

Narcissists will also go out of their way to stir up other people's expectations and then go out of their way to disappoint those expectations.

First, narcissists lack empathy, so they don't know what you want or like and, evidently, they don't care either; second, they think their opinions are better and more important than anyone else's, so they'll give you what they think you ought to want, regardless of what you may have said when asked what you wanted for your birthday; third, they're stingy and will give as gifts stuff that's just lying around their house, such as possessions that they no longer have any use for, or -- in really choice instances -- return to you something that was yours in the first place. In fact, as a practical matter, the surest way NOT to get what you want from a narcissist is to ask for it; your chances are better if you just keep quiet, because every now and then the narcissist will hit on the right thing by random accident

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 17:09:49

Flippin - that makes sense. SHE kicked off a major tantrum - as she didn't like one of her presents - told everyone she could that I bought her this shit because I'm truly dreadful. Dh picked that particular gift and even her dm said its something she loves. I think they love the drama. Gotta be centre of attention. The very first time I picked up on her saying something I thought was really odd - was when she said "Christmas is for women" I just couldn't get my head around it. Now it all makes sense.

StephaniePowers Sun 10-Mar-13 17:11:17

The emphasis on how things look to others is another sign, isn't it?
My mother has narc tendencies and the way my house looks is obviously a real problem to her.
It's all control.

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 17:13:25

Atilla - that is so true, one Christmas she bought us nothing. We came laden with presents for all, so she rooted round and found a bottle of wine grin

LineRunner Sun 10-Mar-13 17:16:48

Thanks for starting this thread, flippinada, and I'll be reading it all, having a lot I think in common with noddy.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 17:22:48

There's a lot of tantrumming going on with these people isn't there! It would be funny if it wasn't so awful. Whenever I think of a tantrum I picture my DS as a toddler, he had some humdingers. It's awful seeing an adult do the same thing.

noddy I did laugh at the reason for not buying a house. It sounds ridiculous doesn't it because who on earth in their right mind would buy a house based on what someone else thinks of it?

"The emphasis on how things look to others is another sign, isn't it?" Yes Stephanie that's what I was trying to say, you just put it better.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 17:25:13

Thank you LineRunner, hope you find the thread useful smile

TheArmadillo Sun 10-Mar-13 17:28:56

I watched my parents turn my sister into my mum. She didn't start out that way. But now she is as toxic as them.

Some things I noticed that my mother and sister had in common

1) they were both slightly isolated from their peers from the beginning - both have hearing issues, my sister also had behavioural problems, allergies meaning she couldn't eat the same food as everyone else. They got used to being different early on, although my sister has always been very sociable.

2) they were taught everything was harder for them and as a result any achievement they made was much more impressive than anyone else. They were better because they were 'victims'

3) my sister was taught she was special because of her problems, that no one would understand how amazing and special she was. She was rewarded for her tantrums (she shouldn't be subject to the same standards as everyone else). Also prevented from doing a lot and overcontrolled kept her at toddler stage of behaviour.

4) I was told to be understanding and tolerant of her behaviour, nothing was seen as her fault - she couldn't control it, it or she had just been copying something I used to do (I was older).

I don't know if I have explained it very well, but I am sure my sister didn't start of toxic or narcissistic, I think even up to teenage years it could have gone either way. I think she was shown (by copying my mum) and had the same behaviour in herself rewarded and reinforced. She was taught she was different, not subject to the same rules, not responsible for her actions/behaviours and was special in a way most people wouldn't recognise. I also think partially was a defence mechanism - either become the victim of the abuser or turn into them yourself.

We had no ally in each other as children or adults - I think if we had it may have helped. It's sad because she had the good side as well that was overcome by the bad. She could have been different, she is the victim of abuse as much as I am but she is to far gone to get back.

TheCrackFox Sun 10-Mar-13 17:33:21

I dud read somewhere that they tend to have the emotional age of a 6yr old.

My mum's gift giving is laughable. It is almost like she has never met me. I can't decided if it is because she doesn't know me or she gets some cheap thrill in pissing me off. I now expect a crap present and also act thrilled upon receiving it. I have taken her power away.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 17:38:32

The key is taking the power away.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 17:43:14

TheArmadillo that's really interesting about your sister. She sounds like a 'golden child' type. Dysfunctional families often put people into set roles which they are not 'allowed' to step out of.

The gift giving thing has reminded me of Christmases spent with my Dad and Stepmum. My Step siblings would have piles of lovely, thoughtfully chosen gifts, while me and my sister used to get cheap tat, like the kind of thing you would buy as an afterthought in a pound shop, and woe betide us if we weren't appropriately grateful!

Hi I'm back, reading with interest at which behaviours I can identify with when looking at my mum. I have a thread looking for advice on dealing with my anger and how to generally deal with her. I didn't realise how many people are similar to her. She has no friends, she is the eternal victim they have all just left her and she has no idea why, I used to feel sorry for her but can see why now. She seems to be a little obsessed with my teen, to the point I have had to remind her that he is is actually my son and she should speak so me if she wants to take him out/on holiday and not tell him first (backing me into a corner of having to say yes) she also 'forgets' that teen is night blind and has tried to put him in danger twice now. She also makes every situation about her especially health wise. I mentioned that we had to take teen to the hospital and she followed this with 'I have am appointment that day, they another on the Wednesday, I am seeing xx Dr about this and that' didn't ask why teen needed to go, and even though she has diabetes I have not told her I also have gestational diabetes, no point, it will only be about her.

It is interesting reading about the whole gifts issue, she has never made demands of expensive gifts and when you give her something there is always a really false over the top reaction to it you can tell she is disappointed somehow, no matter how much thought we put into it.

Sorry that turned into quite a rant, feeling much better now though smile the reason I started the other thread was because she is (at the moment) the only option I have for emergency child care for my boys when I go into labour and I have been trying to stop being angry enough to want to trust her, it has been very much worse this year and I can't seem to get past it at the moment.

HecateWhoopass Sun 10-Mar-13 18:20:26

The problem is that these people are rewarded for their behaviour.

They get what they want.

They learn and then have constantly reinforced that this is how they behave if they want to get their own way, if they want to be in control.

What we need to do is to stop rewarding them for their behaviour.

Stop being afraid of them.

so they'll strop and sulk and shout. So what?

The most important thing you can know is that it is ok if someone is cross with you! you don't have to bend over all the time! You don't have to do whatever they want in order to appease them.

You just have to be able to be ok with their tantrum and to carry on with your life while they have it.

They have only the power that you hand to them and no more.

We can't change them until or unless we change ourselves. When they stop being rewarded for their behaviour - they will change it.

And if they don't... they have a very lonely life!

Still not your problem!

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 18:24:28

Atilla says "Narcissists are very disappointing as gift-givers.

First, narcissists lack empathy, so they don't know what you want or like and, evidently, they don't care either; second, they think their opinions are better and more important than anyone else's, so they'll give you what they think you ought to want, regardless of what you may have said when asked what you wanted for your birthday; third, they're stingy and will give as gifts stuff that's just lying around their house, such as possessions that they no longer have any use for, or -- in really choice instances -- return to you something that was yours in the first place. In fact, as a practical matter, the surest way NOT to get what you want from a narcissist is to ask for it; your chances are better if you just keep quiet, because every now and then the narcissist will hit on the right thing by random accident "

This was my x. he would get ANGRY with me though if I wasn't grateful enough.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 18:25:44

God yes hecate

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 18:30:18

Everything - I remember your other thread. I am struggling too with the anger. It feels like I am the only one who is angry about what she has done. She has been vile about me, dh, her dm and db. Dh is shattered, and I am angry - the others are in her thrall. She can do no wrong, when bad things happen - like her h cheating - she just airbrushed it out of her life - her h also rang us and said it didn't happen. Everyone thinks they are the perfect family - why oh why can't they see the truth.

TheCrackFox Sun 10-Mar-13 18:30:52

I completely agree with you Hecate, they need to be treated like naughty toddlers.

Although, a common theme seems to be a lack of friends. You would think that they would be able to see that the lack of friends has something to do with their behaviour.

Ginebra that really rings a bell with me, there was one famous incident where I needed to borrow some money to get a car, she agreed to lend me some. A week later was my birthday and she handed me a card, when I opened it, it had cash in it, she proudly announced that this was the loan and also gave me her account numbers to organise the repayment. I would have done that anyway, I had every intention of doing it.

It is all falling into place, my mother also has no friends.

TheArmadillo Sun 10-Mar-13 18:38:52

My mum is a terrible present giver. She either grabs something out of a cupboard (she would blatantly regift stuff I bought her with my own pocket money as a child), or buys you what she thinks you should have regardless of whether you like/want it or not. Also she used to buy stuff for me suitable for a 10yo child when I was well into adulthood. She bought me the same stuff every Christmas and then complained I didn't ever use it hmm it never occurred to her to maybe buy me something I wanted, that I would use. It was definitely me at fault.

However buying her presents was horrible as no matter how much effort you put in she would never be grateful or even pleased. Mostly she would go on a rant about how she hated 'materialism' but God forbid you didn't put in effort or worse didn't get her anything, all hell would break loose.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 18:39:39

TheCrackfox, I think that is what attracted my xnark to me. I had friends. Good friends who genuinely liked me. but after meeting him he was condescending to them, luke warm in his responses to their efforts to get to know him. So then, I would be invited places without him and he 'd be so angry. He had a nasty remark about ALL of my friends. They kept quiet about him really. Apart from comments like 'Are you sure he's what you want?'. But they didn't trash him the way he trashed them. Anyway, ironic, he wanted my friends but then he demonised them.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 18:42:23

Hecate great post, I think you've hit the nail on the head.

Looking in from outside, it's easier to say than do when you're involved in it, because you're trained, often from birth, to behave in a certain way.

My friend (eg) will not stand up to her mum at all. She insists the fall out isn't worth it, and it seems like the entire family (dys)functions around pandering to her mothers horrible behaviour. I want to yell "so bloody what if she has a tantrum, just let her get on with it!!"

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 18:45:14

"You would think that they would be able to see that the lack of friends has something to do with their behaviour"

Yes, I don't get this either. How can you not make the connection?

dothraki I feel like the black sheep a lot of the time, my sisters enable her behaviour (easy for them 300 miles away) and db can seem to just shake it off, I am the angry one. Why can't I be like db?? (Does it make a difference he has no children for her to be obsessed over think about?

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 18:45:57

Flippinada, to go back to a point you made in your second post, pages back now, but it just caught my eye, I ALSO wonder why they don't figure out in a logical way over time that you catch more flies with honey, ie, be nice. I know my x has no empathy. But he does have intelligence, and so I half expect him to use his intelligence at some point to join up the dots and figure out that being an abusive controlling bully hasn't worked out that well for him, and to maybe, try being nice for a while.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 18:47:25

and it ties in with not making any connections! yes exactly!! they've no empathy. That we understand. But they aren't totally stupid, so why does their intelligence not make the connection at some point? confused

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 18:51:00

Was brought up by a mother who I would say was more borderline than narc. Hysterical explosions, absolute self-obsession, violent verbal abuse, intrusive, etc.

I've been terrified of turning into her and suffer a lot from depression but some of the tantruming/ abusive behaviour I also mirrored in my time.

I feel so terribly ashamed of it and try so hard now not to be like that but it is sometimes very hard to control my temper. She screamed and yelled all day and got away with it entirely, everyone obeyed her and dad told us all the time how wonderful she was. I think there is a part of me that could go the same way and every day I have to fight it. These days get absolutely poleaxed with guilt if I behave like her. Hmm I guess this is the lesson of my life, to break those patterns.

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 18:52:17

ginebra don't you think that either they have no capacity for empathy (like sociopaths) or somehow it never developed for them? The creation of the 'special victim' identity described by hecate above is important here I think. They feel unhappy and sorry for themselves, yet they disregard, fear and despise others (if they even notice them).

HecateWhoopass Sun 10-Mar-13 18:53:23

It probably is easier from outside, but it's doable from inside.

My father's family were dreadful. His mother did the whole 'take to my bed with a headache' thing and the whole lot of them would be begging and pleading with her hmm. I remember one time being at her house when she took offence at something and she went and sat at the bottom of the garden. hmm

I cut them off at 16 after she screamed down the phone that she wanted nothing more to do with me. (because I wouldn't obey and go to stay with them after coming out of hospital) she wanted nothing more to do with me - she got it.

then the lot of them decided she was the victim so they got binned too.

And my own mother is tricky grin and had to be told once that she needed to shape up or ship out.

If there is one thing I have learned it is that people will treat you how you allow them to treat you!

If someone's priority is to keep the peace at all costs then they must accept that people will wipe their feet on them.

No thanks. I've had my fill of that.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 18:58:38

Armadillo I've got a theory that they have a 'need' to create scenarios where their target is in the wrong. Gift giving seems to be a popular conduit for this, probably to do with its emotional significance.

Ginebra - good point. When they see being nice works why wouldn't they think hey, that's a good idea?

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 18:58:47

my mother is borderline as well. I hesitate to use the word toxic as 95% of the time she is normal. It's only when we disagree that I am made feel foolish. or Awkward. And recently I overheard her saying something about me and I said 'eh,hello, like, standing right here' and then she was very crisp with me that I'd embarrassed her, and she went from zero to WOUNDED in about three seconds, and there was no room for me to say, hang on, you were the one trashing me in public and I heard. Can we recap on why you're angry with me?? she just wasn't going to HEAR it. I got a rundown of all she did for me (and it's true, she does a lot for me........ ). But anyway, although mostly she is normal, I think that's why I ended up in an abusive relationship later. And now, I seem to have inadvertently engaged some randomer in circular defensive arguments. ('m putting a stop to that right now though.)

I was reading some of the stuff on that site i linked to earlier about the children of toxic parents and how they can be underachievers, stuck. that is me. Although my mum is honestly not that bad, she would be incandescent with white rage is she knew that I even thought that sometimes she could be toxic. Just sometimes.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 19:01:02

flip, i don't think my x has been nice long enough to see patterns emerging!

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 19:04:18

Hecate I felt my teeth beginning to grind reading your post because I know people like that and they just make me go aaaaaarrrggghhhh!!! Manipulating through feigned illness seems to be a common tactic. Again I notice a theme, headaches are popular.

You are absolutely right of course but it seems such a difficult thing for people to deal with.

Ginebra - what I mean is, just by seeing through these people you put yourself at risk. if you have your own view of them (rather than their view of them) then they are going to drama bait you/smear/discredit you

^ THIS ^ yes, yes, yes.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 19:08:58

@ boltingbrenda yes. And I got away from my x, and I understand why he was the way he is, and that's all good, and I'm so self-aware, blah blah blah! and I even see some McToxic-lite behaviour in my own Mother, but, this beady eyed awareness makes me a target for this other randomer.

Have you had experience of this too!? what did you do. I am jus ttrying to disengage TOTALLY even though a few mutual acquaintances might briefly think 'huh?' luckily this person is somebody I can avoid totally.

HecateWhoopass Sun 10-Mar-13 19:09:04

I know. It's really sad. If only they knew just how much power they have! They don't have to put up with people like that.

I remember my dad's mum used to end up with people pleading with her to be allowed to do whatever it was that she'd wanted but they initially hadn't, while she kept refusing, saying no, they should do what they'd planned, etc

It was only after they were practically on bended knee did she agree to allow them to give her her own way.

Bloody staggering.

If it had been me, when she'd done her little girl voice 'oh, no, it's ok, don't worry about meee' I'd have said ok then, see ya.

Not faffed about at her door begging and pleading and seeing her smug face at the end of it.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 19:09:34

That's interesting about toxic parents having underacheiving children.

The two people I know best who have toxic parents are both very high acheivers. I suppose that's because you can go two ways; either 'If I do really well they will be pleased with me" or "I can't win no matter what I do so I won't bother" (thinking specifically in relation to over/under achieving).

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 19:10:38

I do need to SIT ON my compulsion to defend myself all the time, which is something that came out in a big way in my psychotherapy. So, at least I know what I need to do! I just need to 'do it'. I am not overweight but I am guessing this is like an overweight person knowing that they 'just' need to eat less. Kind of like this ?

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 19:10:52

Obviously that is a complete oversimplification!

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 19:13:13

Hecate, there is another option; my friends sibling had a great solution - they emigrated. My friend is hoping her parents will move there when they retire!

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 19:17:22

Flip, it said that it was one way or the other. Under or Over! i'm very definitely under. I kind of wish I was more successful, but I don't feel I have it in me to see courses through to the end. And although I believe I could be a good employee, a good partner, I havent the faith in other people to value me, so I find it incredibly hard to put myself out there. I guess my experiences have taught me that I wasn't valued, and I'm using logic and internal dialogue to tell myself that I'm not stupid, I am decent, sensible, practical, logical etc........ but the REALITY for me has been that I've been sacked, co-erced in to resigning, relocated, made redundant, dumped, used, .... but I'm NOT a professional victim honestly! it's because I have a sense of worth on my own that I can't risk 'testing' it by letting other people judge me.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 19:19:41

There will always be another toxic person out there. What I need to figure out is what I did to make this toxic person 1) realise I could be baited, and 2) why I felt compelled to defend myself to somebody who is nobody really. How did I get locked into this with somebody who is basically nothing to me, a randomer. But there I was, straight back on the hamster wheel.

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 19:22:48

the underachieving thing is interesting.

I am I suppose an 'overachiever' in academic terms (though feel a fraud saying that) but have suffered from underlying chronic depression and several breakdowns.

re. the toxic person at work Ginebra: I have heard that the very best thing to do is cut off all the 'supply' to the narc/abuser whether positive or negative. They don't care, it's supply. So you have to ignore him/her completely. Yes definitely stop defending yourself; they are dragging you into a dialogue about your 'faults' which is based on their rules.

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 19:24:54

It's interesting isn't it that it's one extreme or the other.

I think 'toxic' types think a high achiever reflects well on them and their excellent <cough cough> parenting but woe betide the achiever if anything goes wrong.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 19:28:04

wrt underachieving, it took me 2wenty years to look back and understand that i failed at everything because the things I was attempting to do were their plans not mine. At no point, literally, not til I was 30+ did I think, hang on, would it be totally unreasonable to just take stock of what I would LIKE to do? tbh, that sort of hippy nonsense was never indulged.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 19:28:42

yes, and my brother is the other extreme from me!

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 19:29:06

I agree that it's probably pointless to engage with them as they feed off it. It's like being in the middle of a war you have no chance of winning.

domestic your posts sound just like my friend; she has similar MH issues.

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 19:30:09

I hear from relatives now I am an adult, that my mum bragged constantly about my academic performance to them. But she never gave me a word of praise, just dire warnings if I wasn't working hard enough or if standards slipped. Quite narc that I guess. Also the working-class thing, that you must not praise your children lest they get above themselves :D

Ginebra I thought I was wholly aware of the impact of the 'Toxic' person on my Husband (his mother) - sadly recent experience has opened my eyes to the true impact and devastating consequences of so many years of such conditioning.

That kind of manipulation cannot be fought, argued against, or leave anything to salvage - it's an immutable power and simply terrifying.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 19:31:50

My brother much better at handling criticism though. I remember once I'd mentioned I was going to buy a painting. Well, all I got from my mother was 'no no no, that would be foolish blah blah blah blah.............' She honestly didn't fully GET that I wanted to buy it because I WANTED to. My brother was sitting there listening to all of this, then he said casually, I'll be back in half an hour. He came back with a painting! he said 'look at my painting! it's nice, I'm happy with it'. My mum was shock but he honestly couldn't have given a fuck if she pissed on his decision to waste money on a local artist or not. I wish I had that shell.

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 19:35:12

ginebra do you still feel under the power of your mum's criticism? You should practice deliberate rebellion! Listen to what she says.. then do the opposite!!

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 19:35:13

@ Brenda, has your husband found himself repeating old patterns with a new toxic person?

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 19:37:10

Yes, I@m trying. That's what I do nwo. I resist the urge to run things past her. I can't tell you the number of plans I've had that she's talked me out of. Hairdressing for example. Nursing. She would just list off ALL the negatives and eventually, after a few rounds of being balanced and defending the reasons for my choices, I'd just feel weary.

TheCrackFox Sun 10-Mar-13 19:40:37

I have underachieved too (although starting to now) and I think it was because of a combination of chronic low self esteem and also trying to follow other people's plans for me, not my own.

My mum brags about me to other people but I have never once had an unqualified compliment from her. Now I have children I have actually found that completely bizarre, I think (and tell them all the time) that they are amazing.

TheCrackFox Sun 10-Mar-13 19:42:16

Yy to being talked out of something all the time. I keep my dreams to myself now.

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 19:42:33

god Ginebra she sounds like one to cut off for a bit. Maybe not permanently, but talking to her clearly does you no good.

domesticgodless Sun 10-Mar-13 19:44:51

I get this sound of disappointment from my mum all the time when I suggest something she doesn't like the sound of. Gentle yet devastatingly dismissive disappointment. It kind of makes me laugh now.

I rebelled years ago though and she knows damn well if she starts the real toxic stuff again she will not see me. so she tones it down.

Nicknamechange Sun 10-Mar-13 20:02:27

I struggle with my memory of my father, who died a few years ago. I'm pretty sure he was a narcissist. He was childish, selfish, self-centred and lacked empathy. He was also an alcoholic. He hurt me over and over again with his behaviour. He married a woman (my stepmother) who was also incredibly difficult. She was very critical of me and because he hung on her every word, she helped him to see me in an even more critical light than he did already. She has said breathtakingly, unbelievably rude and hurtful things to me. Whenever I visited them, I repressed my real personality and became the person I thought they wanted me to be. Sometimes this worked, but, generally, it left me feeling incredibly lonely and depressed.

What I struggle with is that there are also many good points about both my father and SM. My father could sometimes be kind. It took a lot for him to stop thinking about himself, but sometimes he would cook me a special meal for my birthday or make a special trip to visit me. This gave me hope for many years that our relationship might change for the better, although I gave up on this in the end. My SM can also be kind, although I think she enjoys it if we are in trouble of any sort because it feeds her sense of superiority.

Both DF and SM thought outward appearance was everything. If I spoke to Dad, he would only ever tell me about the latest party he'd been to and the important people he'd met. He would rarely ask about me. I felt that I was a disappointment to him.

Superficially, our relationship seemed fine. Dad and my SM were able to keep up appearances and I never let them down. But I know that they never really knew me.

I still haven't made sense of it all. I grieved so deeply for my DF when he died, but I was also haunted by all the bad memories. It was hard for me to find many good ones and that was sad in itself.

When I read about toxic people, I feel confused. Do my DF and SM fit into this category? And, if they do, what effect has it had on me? Most of the time, I'm just too busy with my life to think about it directly, but it is always there, niggling at me.

Ginebra - my Husband has ostensibly chosen his adult family over Me, meh his children's security and happiness. That despite personally seeing and hearing their indefensible defence of their manipulative actions and words, he still defends them.

He opines whines "but She's my MUM" whenever I say "It's your children!"

And all that from a Naice upper middle class family background...alcoholism, incest, sexual abuse, and suicide, apart of course.

Our children, and their emotional welfare, should come first.

I will be the one to have to explain why I turned their lives upside down by leaving Daddy, I will be the single parent, I will be the in-law's topic of bitchy conversation forevermore (just like the two unfortunates before me) - all the while them knowing (but not giving a damn because Toxics don't have that insight or emotional range) about the roles they played.

Thank you for starting this thread flippinada - how apposite and timely it has been for me!

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 20:06:04

It is very difficult to admit these things about your own parent

noddyholder It is very difficult to admit these things about your own parent - YES, and I completely and wholly agree that admitting the people that are meant to love, nurture, and support you are maybe less than perfect.

But...I did that aged 14, and still loved and adored them for themselves - I just never excused any behaviour that was damaging, or own it and clasp it to myself to let them off the hook. And while I admit they made a part of me, I acknowledge that they did not make me in my entirety - I am ME..and it's my responsibilty to own up to MY faults because they are MINE and mine alone!

I'm finding the part up thread about illness quite interesting, mum loves you to know the ins and outs of every appointment she has, never asks how you are, but when there is something actually really wrong she becomes a martyr to it, to the point where she actually denies being ill. We also had a situation where she had a major operation and during recovery she was like a toddler, she wouldn't take her medication and actually thought she knew better than to take advice from the experts.

Also Nickname you mentioned the outward appearance being important. She for as long as I can remember allowed db to make comments, laugh and generally take the p* out of me. He is not as bad now but she can't even bring herself to say 'you look nice' it is always something like 'that's a nice jumper' or 'those trousers make you look thin' no mother I look nice, I am thinner than you think!!!!

I have also found that years of her have made me suspicious of my MIL's motives. I'm sure she has lovely lady, but I always think that she has am ulterior motive. Has anyone else been effected I'm the way they trust and deal with others?

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 20:19:40

@ ah yeh bolting, I really feel for you. For years I felt the weight of my xpils criticism of me, it was another layer of weight on top of me. But now, I don't care. They send letters to me to tell me my faults and I think, 'oh my friend will laugh at this' but I resist replying!

I totally get what you're saying though. Even though You have NO choice, and were backed into leaving The Script will be that you walked away on a selfish whim or something like that! That is my x's family's perception of the situation. I left their son for "an easy life". I just said, yeh, being a single mother on benefits IS actually easier, you are right there. :-/ But this is six years on here. My kids know it was my prerogative to leave an unahppy relationship.

It does get easier because over time you give less of a fuck thought to how they have interpreted it all. Obviously you can NEVER get them to see your side, but the fact that they are so wilfully biased ceases to matter after a few years. Honestly now, there good opinion means about as little to me as if you pointed to somebody in the far distance and siad 'that guy thinks you're selfish'.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 20:24:17

@ boltingbrenda, maybe your husband will have a few epiphanies along the way. I've had a few in the last 6 or 7 years I can tell you. I probably would have been locked into cycles of pleasing ten years ago. But I'm a different person now. I knwo you can't waste your one short life waiting for your husband to SEE what you see, but it's not impossible that he might begin some sort of reflection (seriously) when he's lost his wife and children.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 20:26:30

Once you do admit it though your life can be transformed

Nicknamechange Sun 10-Mar-13 20:29:20

noddy - 'It is very difficult to admit these things about your own parent'.

Yes, it feels disloyal. And I feel as if I will get into trouble!

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 20:32:26

yes. I am feeling now, like, I thought I was an adult at 30, 31, 32... In fact, I didn't even start to become an adult until I left my x. And then, along the way I grew to understand that dysfunctional relationship, why I allowed myself to tolerate it, how predictable his behaviour was, why I feel the need to defend myself all the time, my own people pleasing and confusing being nice with being 'needless', and even now, still learning, when I realise that I'm getting sucked back into a similar pattern with somebody who has identified me as a source.

I feel envious of people who were sorted and confident at 23. I'm in my 40s and still trying to get up to that early adulthood level.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 20:33:37

yes, nickname, I keep thinking 'what if my mother read this thread!'. She won't. I'm as certain as I can be, but it would be horrifying.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 20:35:13

I would love my mum to read it as it would be the only way to get the info across

flippinada Sun 10-Mar-13 20:38:58

Nickname your experience strikes a chord with me as I had a similar relationship with my Dad and Stepmum; my Dad wasn't an alcoholic but the other stuff is very, very familiar. She was vile to me and my sister and my Dad just let it happen/put up with it for an easy life - I also struggle withs ome very complex feelings - but that's a story for another thread really.

Noddy it's a very difficult subject for sure. It's like opening Pandoras Box.

Brenda glad the thread is helpful! I'm finding it really helpful too. And you raise a good point about the dysfunction in so called 'naice' families!

I think it's so, so difficult to challenge/deal with entrenched dysfunctional behaviour.

I think even if my mum read this she would have no reaction to it at all, she just doesn't see that this is her, she is the eternal victim in life.

noddyholder I sense immense pain in your spare and measured posts. I hope that you have come to some rationalisation and realisation of your own circumstances? You appear to be a quite lovely person.

Ginebra I have drawn innumerable 'lines in the sand' over the past 10 years- ALL have been crossed with impunity by the Toxics - YOU know the 'Script' by heart! Their fuckwittery ceased to rile me a few years ago - now 'tis out and out betrayal that has permitted the last shreds of my understanding and sympathy towards them to be discarded.

I have a toxic sister, a toxic father and aunt and the worst culprit, a toxic grandmother who is thankfully now dead.
Marking my place as I found this thread v useful.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 20:52:54

i wonder if it's worse in 'naice' familes. There is more pressure to keep up appearances, so more collusion unfortunately. You know your friends will pity you, and you don't want to make them feel awkward. It's only considerate to keep your upper lip stiff and hide your dogsdinnerhomelife from them.

Nicknamechange Do we have the same Dad? (Quite possible...I'm an 'only child' with @4? unknown half-siblings out there somewhere)

My Dad was an eternal man-child - handsome, fabulous, witty, the life and soul of every situation but...deeply flawed.

He broke my childhood heart a million times, but I loved him.

I still love him (he died some years ago).

I don't know the full story of his upbringing - just enough to realise and comprehend that he was most probably deeply emotionally damaged by it.

I know I was loved by him, even if most of his life choices made his being an accepted model of fatherhood very unlikely!

His life does not define me - I've taken the good parts of his character and genetics but not forgiven his letting me down time after time - that was not good Dad!

I love my Dad, I miss him deeply, but he was a shit Dad!

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 21:02:10

Noddy I doubt your mum would recognise herself. That is part of the problem they are perfect dontcha know smile

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 21:09:46

My mum wouldn't. She'd be very angry. About two years ago, she called me abusive. It was another situation like when I overheard her making a derogatory remark about me, she picked up my son from school, but I hadn't ASKED her to, so when I said, 'oh, hi!, it's thursday confused what are you doing here?' Well, she was so embarrassed by me, she was so humiliated, all she does for me, etc etc.... I literally didn't even get a CHANCE to say 'i am grateful for all your help, I just wasn't expecting you to be there that day!'. I honestly did n't get a chance. I kept trying to say my piece. and 'my piece' was one sentence. but I couldn't get it out. Her hand would fly up to stop me making my point.

It's always ridiculous things that spark off WWIII

LimeLeafLizard Sun 10-Mar-13 21:10:09

Really interesting thread, thanks. Coming back to read in more detail later.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 21:17:42

I know I need to handle things better,and I'm geting there. The next time things heat up I will repeat to myself mantra style 'gratitude, complete assent, gratitude, complete assent'. This will keep me out of a pointless row. My brother was reminding me a while ago how when we were little if we were at somebody's house and we were offered a biscuit or a piece of cake, the host would insstantly be told 'they're fine, they're fine, they're not hungry' even if we were drooling looking at the cake. funny that that sticks in his head! Now, being better able to handle situations, at a family even for example if he were offered a vol au vent, he'd say "am I hungry mum? ;-) and she'd actually laugh. difuse the situation. I'd be getting all wound up that at 40 somethig I wasn't allowed to decide for myself if I wanted to take a sausage roll or not. So I know that I am part of the equation. I need to react differently.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 21:18:27

This all sounds SO petty when I read it back!

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Sun 10-Mar-13 21:21:41

This is not a trivial consideration in personal relationships. I've seen narcissistic people sweetly solicit someone's preferences, yes I am talking about you MIL ("Go ahead -- tell me what you really want"), make a show of paying attention to the answer ("Don't you think I'm nice?"), and then deliver something other than what was asked for

Atilla This is exactly what my MIL does. She'd ask me for what I wanted. I'm a big reader so I usually ask for books, she'd make a note of the author - even asking me twice to make sure she'd got it right. Roll on Christmas or birthdays I'd get a book but it would be a book that she would read, not what I would ever read.

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 21:24:34

Ginebra - thats the point. They are masters of pettyness. It seems like the more trivial the better. Also its the incessant nature of it. Its like drip,drip, drip all the time.

pollypandemonium Sun 10-Mar-13 21:30:55

We have a toxic ex-SIL in our family but she is truly mentally ill. Highly intelligent, always writing things down for evidence, over assertive, greedy, controlling of her son (who she has limited access to), on meds etc, social services involvement.

What I find interesting though is how different family members deal with her. I won't tolerate her near me as she has done so many unforgivable things (being overbearing with dying of cancer father - just one example of many). But my brother kind of lets her jig along and invites her to family events which upsets me because she has caused so much pain.

My mother also, accepts her and manages her, ignoring most of the time (takes the hearing aid out) and less involved people also let her get away with all sorts.

Toxic is a subjective term. I see this woman as toxic but many don't, they say she's ill and you should ignore her. I (and a few others) say that her behaviour is damaging and unacceptable. I anyone right here? Should you just let toxic people go on doing what they do?

As I said earlier, it was my nan who was toxic. I called her a parasite because I swear she fed off peoples efforts to please her. Maybe vampire would be better. she was full of spite, and frequently directed it at the grandkids. I have so many stories of stuff she's said, I think the one that sticks out is when I finally flipped and stood up for myself. I was about 22 and fed up with her shit. We were having a girl shopping trip (me,mum,her) and I was talking about my new bloke. she said something along the lines of "you're quite fat to have a boyfriend". I was a size 16, about the same as her. I told her it was ok, I'd shag the fat off. Mum was like shock and said to have some respect. I said I was old enough to realise respect was earned, and if nan couldn't respect me, why should I respect her. Mum didn't have an answer to that. Didn't stop Nan being a spiteful b** for years to come though. angry

its like there's not a switch in their head that tells them how horrible and unreasonable they're being.

I have such sympathy, and empathy for the people posting. These people affect us, to the point of knowing you have to deal with them means you dread it, and you've got your armour on ready for battle.
I'm worried because my mum had a shit childhood, and adulthood until Nan died last year. She can't resolve anything because nan was so unapologetic about her actions, so mum is grieving for a relationship she never had. But although she is determined never to be like her, she is starting to exhibit some traits. She's so touchy about it you can't mention it. sad

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 21:54:37

Polly - I don't see how you can stop them. All you can do is protect yourself. Their behaviour is damaging and unacceptable - but they don't see it. From ours - when I first met them they were sweet as pie. That didn't last long. Then they stopped talking, it was like we were an inconvenience to them. I gave them the benefit of the doubt for 5 years. Then they showed their full on true colours. Their vileness poured out of them, full blown tantrums, verbal abuse, concerted attacks from others on their behalf. I honestly believed her husband was controlling her and she was depressed. Things on here made me see things differently. <thanks mumsnet>

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 22:00:38

Goodjam - wow that was horrible - good retort though. Maybe you should get your mum to read some of the stuff here (or get ideas from here if you dont want her on here grin) Your mum might be confused - also she might be scarred thats she's turning into her mum sounds like she needs to talk about it.

Thanks Dothraki, I think it all got too much for her, so she's finally seeing a counsellor, thank goodness.
I just saw through my Nans nastiness and refused to put up with it. I'm like that with a lot if people! A lot of my friends say I'm a good friend but they wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of me! hmm
I'm a firm believer in the phrase "if you've got a problem with me, that's your problem!"

TheArmadillo Sun 10-Mar-13 22:11:42

EverythingIsTicketyBoo I have struggled with my in-laws because of not believing anyone could be that genuinely nice, caring and honest with no ulterior motives or hidden meaning. After 13 years I am getting the hang of it.

For a long time I had nightmares where my lovely Mil suddenly snapped and said I'd pushed her too far, asked for too much and she screamed at me all the insults my mother used. They started when I realised how bad my mother was and started pulling away and I had them for a couple of years. My Mil has supported me through everything and has restored my faith in humanity. She (along with dh, fil and 2 friends of mine) are the only people I trust completely. She is very gentle and very open with her emotions (in a good way) and has put up with my odd behaviour at times but has been very patient and I think it is because of her we have such a good relationship.

I do struggle to trust people though and am very suspicious as a result of being brought up by abusers.

Nicknamechange Sun 10-Mar-13 22:12:30

BoltingBrenda - oops, I hope not! I'm an only child too (at least, as far as I know...). Like your dad, mine was an 'eternal man-child'. He could also be the life and soul - very funny, entertaining etc. He was certainly never ordinary. But he was abusive - physically to my mother and emotionally to me. The worst thing was that he started to be critical towards my DC too. Luckily, I was able to protect them from this and they never knew. They still think he was wonderful.

I understand how you can say you love your dad and miss him, but can still see that he was a shit dad. I can see that with mine too. But I still feel immensely guilty for typing these words. As if I have let him down and he's going to be disappointed in me all over again.

ATouchOfStuffing Sun 10-Mar-13 22:14:47

My mum was a narc (again only realised that since seeing threads on here, she died in 2005). She also was an alcoholic which turned every evening (and some mornings depending on hangovers) into a nightmare. It got to the point where I could only call her between 10-2pm every day as any earlier and she would be in a foul mood and any later I couldn't actually understand her slurring sad.
Needless to say she had no friends. The neighbours had the patience of saints and stuck by her despite many 2am rants and calling of the police to their house having 'heard a disagreement'... She called an ambulance to my house once after 'having a feeling I wasn't well' hmm. I still feel funny reading threads like this as nearly every poster with a mum in the same position reminds me of different anecdotes - nearly every line from you guys suddenly makes me remember when she shouted at a checkout girl or rang up people up hurling abuse and slamming down the phone.
Interestingly she did confide in me one night "You know that people are all shits though, don't you. All of them. Deep down. No once is actually genuinely nice. Never forget that, and more fool you if you are [nice] yourself!"
She honestly didn't trust or like many people. People were on pedestals for a brief time and then thrown off and hounded. Sad really. I do worry I can repeat certain patterns, but I have a lot more patience than her. Actually different in many ways, thankfully, but I do feel I have to watch myself, in case. I stood up to her as well noddy which resulted in her not talking to me for 6 months and then suddenly the neighbours called me to tell me she had cancer and she died within 3 months. Dramatic to the end!

Does anybody know WHY these people are how they are?
Is it an illness, a reaction to childhood trauma, a behavioural blind spot? What would cause such abnormal behaviours?

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 22:19:13

Armadillo - that is so sad x

ohmygoshandgolly Sun 10-Mar-13 22:20:08

I don't know how to feel after reading this thread, i'm almost in tears.

I'm not sure whether to be sad that others are in the same boat or relieved that I recognise so much of what my mother is like from your descriptions.

Thank you.

My deepest fear is turning into my mother, does history repeat itself? Will I become the bitter and twisted toxic woman that she is? And will I end up treating my DCs the same way I am treated? How do I break the cycle?

Nicknamechange Sun 10-Mar-13 22:21:19

Everythingisticketty - I'm sorry your mother allowed your DB to make such hurtful comments to you. I had a lot of personal comments aimed at me about my appearance from DF and SM. I have carried hang ups about my body into my adult life, based on those cutting words. It doesn't matter how much friends/DH try to persuade me that my body is fine, I just can't see it that way. I can only see the flaws that were pointed out to me when I was a teenager (surely the worst time to point out supposed physical failings?). I don't care so much now, but there are still clothes I won't wear because they would show off those 'ugly' bits of me.

Ginebra - the stuff about 'They're not hungry' doesn't sound petty at all. It's outrageous, actually. Why couldn't you decide for yourselves? It was very controlling of her.

Goodjam - your poor mum. But I hope she can break the pattern, not repeat it.

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 22:26:42

breaking the cycle is hard. I sometimes feel terrible, reading these threads because everybody else is managing to do that. I lose my temper when my kids won't listen. And I really have to dialogue with myself, hang on, what am I shouting at them about, am I trying to control them.. ON this occasion, no! they have to do their homework/brush their teeth goddammit! but on other occasions I realise I might be micro managing them, and I fear i'm controlling them. But I tell my dc they are lovely, and I tell them they are not only clever but can work hard, and already I'm trying to give them positive messages but sometimes I feel I ruin it by shouting at them when they are just so naughty!

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 22:28:20

ps, also, I have said SORRY to my kids. I know it doesn't mean that the loss of temper didn't happen. But unlike my mother I have said to the children 'i am SO sorry that I was as cross as I was. You shouldn't have made a blue cake (or whatever it was that made me crazy) but I am sorry that I was AS cross as I was.

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 22:29:01

Norks - I think I read somewhere on mn that this can be caused by trauma I think my narcs was probably caused by her mum walking out on the family. Her mum hardly ever had her to stay overnight. One night when dh and I had just started seeing each other he asked his xwife to have the dc one night so we could go out - she said I'm not your babysitter (grr - they were her children ffs).

ATouchOfStuffing Sun 10-Mar-13 22:29:18

YY Gin to the whole cake thing. When mum died an old friend she had ditched decades ago wrote to me saying I was the 'most polite and well turned out child she had ever met' and continued to hint that she was sorry she didn't have the chance to hang around to see me as an adult. (mum used to rant about her in v derogatory tones, so heaven knows what she was perceived to have done to her to have caused them to loose such an old friendship). Her and my mum had gone to school together. It was heartbreaking as she sent all of these pics of mum from childhood and me and mum when she still had custody of me. I remember reading it and thinking, if you only knew how scared of her I was, you would know why I was so 'well behaved'. I was told to look at my shoes, not an adult, unless I was spoken to - that kind of thing. The whole pretense of her meeting someone and being charming and funny and then as we walked home she would pick them to shreds; they looked like a tart in that skirt, spoke very poorly, terrible choice in scent, did you see their nails! etc etc. I think I get my anxiety from the fact she taught me that no matter how people seem to see you (i.e her being nice to their face) didn't mean they aren't slagging you off just behind your back. She was quite a snob, but strangely a stout defender of the 'salt of the earth' common man. I never knew where to look for a role model, as undoubtedly whoever I chose would be scorned.
Ah, i'm writing bloomin' essays! Sorry, Mothers Day triggers it for me - she died in March too. Sorry for banging on!

ATouchOfStuffing Sun 10-Mar-13 22:33:05

Oh and yes about the trauma thing for my mum - she was adopted and constantly telling me how lucky I was to 'know' who my parents were. Her parents had 'deserted her'.
Strangely I met up with her bio family and her sister always wanted to be adopted and never forgave their real mum for NOT putting her up for adoption. The grass is always greener.

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 22:35:27

ATouch - surely today is the perfect day to get it out smile

Ginebra Sun 10-Mar-13 22:36:14

AtouchOfStuffing, my mum wouldn't trash her own friends but from when I was a young adult on, I knew how judgemental she was over exactly the same kind of thing, and it's left me with a huge fear of being judged. I am just waiting to be judged, and so I'm defensive (which attracts toxic people because they enjoy baiting people who defend defend defend).

dothraki Sun 10-Mar-13 22:42:48

Ginebra - please do not worry that if you shout at your kids that it means you are like your mum. You are not. You have empathy, you tell your kids they are loved, your kids know they are loved. We have not all found the solutions - I am still looking - that is why I find this thread so helpful.Normal good parents shout too smile

They are the Goblin Kings...

Our mantra from henceforth should be

You have no power over me

ATouchOfStuffing Sun 10-Mar-13 22:45:17

Thanks Doth, I know it is easier for me than those with narc mum's still about. Weird mixed emotions on MD that is for sure!
GinYes! I attract them too. I feel sorry for people with no friends (I think I sometimes worried because mum was alone and always saying how lonely she was, so replaced love I wanted to give her into these types of friends?!) and have spent the last 2 years digging myself out of holes with them. Grand total of 6 dumped in 2 years once I realised all of the patterns. Other friends hated them and never got on with them, they had no friends of their own, always had a bullied at school/other sob story and usually pretty controlling in who else I had as a friend and whether I saw them as much etc etc. It sounds terrible, especially after slating mum for ditching my friends, but actually being on here has shown me that I don't need to repeat the patterns my mum ingrained in me. I feel bad talking about her like this, but it has become easier over the years to distance myself and try to break free of her control from beyond the grave. Sadly the only advice I can give is to break free and try to figure out who you actually are in yourself, not who they wanted you/tried to make you into. It is VERY hard and I only make small in roads each year.

Thanks Nickname the odd thing is I don't hold it against him, he still occasionally does it but I tell him exactly my thoughts on it. The problem like you said is that it was done at a sensitive time for me. I have so many issues with my body now it is so sad. What is worse I think is when I look at pictures from my teen years, I was hot, not just a bit nice, a mean really really hot, I married the first person that told me I was beautiful because I had never been told it before and thought that was love (how very very wrong) I blame her for never giving me any confidence I'm myself, by allowing db to say what he did made me think he was right.

I try to tell my boys how proud of them I am, how lovely they are and that I love them as often as I can. I do not want to ever repeat the cycle.

I'm glad it is not just me suspicious of the MIL relationship and it was interesting to hear that you are also wary of mules friendships. I am sometimes concerned that I am somehow like mum, I am not lo contact with anyone from school (db has had the same friend since he was 4) and my oldest friend I have known for about 10 years, but I don't have what I would consider a circle of close friends. I seen to be able to make friends I think I pull away if I have any doubt or concerns about them.

noddyholder Sun 10-Mar-13 23:01:45

I am at peace with myself now I always knew she was wrong but hoped for change but her treatment of us became extreme and I had to do something. Interestingly I didn't really stand up to her She had been staying for years that's he didn't enjoy family etc and having us in the house etc. said itwasn't her thing. Last summer my dps sister died and I just saw he light. She never contacted me fr months ad when she did I said I was glad she had changed her mind about not wanting us around and life is too short. Well all hell broke loose and she sent me a list of all my failings. She had already doe similar with my lovely sister so I decided to leave her to hervowndevices. That was nearly a year ago.

#other not mules, silly auto correct.

Nicknamechange - But I still feel immensely guilty for typing these words. As if I have let him down and he's going to be disappointed in me all over again.

My view is that these people were the ADULTS in the relationship, any feelings of responsibility lands squarely on their shoulders. It was their role to protect and love, if they were incapable of that I don't see that as being my failing...nor do I feel I was/am a disappointment by saying 'Dad, you were crap'! I am confident in my assertion that you can love someone and not like their behaviour - it doesn't have to be all or nothing.

Ginebra 'Husband and Epiphanies' - There's the end of my marriage in a nutshell. He did have one when he caught witnessed MiL verbally emotionally damaging one of our DC, but eventually slid back into the family tram-lines of behaviour and began minimising it. I thought he would have one when I confronted a relative of his and he heard lie after lie after lie drip from their mouths (yes, he did know what they were saying was completely self-supporting lies!) but I knew my marriage was a goner when he sat there looking tearful, said nothing until he sympathised mid-conversation with the liar's upset at being asked to explain their frankly shocking and destructive behaviour (he actually apologised to them...!) He might have one in the future, but clearly cannot overcome his conditioning so they are not quite the wake-up calls the rest of us experience.

Reading back over thread I recognise some Toxic 'Axioms'.

Illness - yep tick, MIL and her barnstorming Migraines. Only cure is a lie-down in a darkened room.

Keeping up appearances - OH YES! But I was always aware of that one. Appearances are EVERYTHING in their family - the 'naice' family is not all that, some very dark stuff under that veneer of respectability.

AttilatheMeerkat 'Nacissists and gift buying' - Words cannot express how much that post hit home! In-Laws didn't even do Birthday cards before H and I got together, and any present ever given to Mil was met with a moue. Text from MiL to (my) Husband a few weeks ago mentions his Birthday present - it's still not appeared (and never will). Ditto Christmas present.

The only thing that doesn't resonate are the melt-downs and tantrums some described, it's all passive-aggressive here. All the better to play the victim, and all the harder impossible to counter.

To answer the original question "Why do people do it?" - I would suggest that, either they are mirroring aspects of their own upbringing (the vicious circle/their 'normality') or they had some specific incident/s in their childhood that damaged their emotional development. The end result is we suffer for their failings.

Brenda, we also didn't have tantrums. We had sulks, ignoring and strong radiating disapproval.
Reading this thread just reminds me of other stuff my nan said. I'm in my 30s and very happy with DP, so my mum had been waiting for 'ages' for a gc!hmm
she was so excited to tell her mum I was pg, only to be disappointed by the response: "are they getting married then?" No congratulations, no happiness. Of course not, she's not centre of attention and won't ever come first again.angry
I wasn't at all surprised by it but it put a real downer on mums day. sad

dothraki Mon 11-Mar-13 11:02:54

Bolting - and how we suffer. Another tick for the migraines (no headaches like the rest of us) - and they simply must lie down <er ......go off and sulk again>. At the moment to keep up appearances they are lying about me on a regular basis, they seem quite intent on destroying dh's relationship with his son. I don't know why dh's son can't see through her - maybe its too scary for him to accept. We went away on her birthday dh picked the date, his son was insistant I had picked the date deliberately to hurt her confused - dh had already stopped all contact by then. Ironically his son and his dp came to stay that night with us - but didn't want her to know about it. I hope he is beginning to see how controlling she is. She told everyone that its my fault dh has nothing to do with his family - er no - he has regular contact with his son, and she is the one who made no effort with us. She didn't invite him to her dc's birthday party, them told everyone I was a bitch and I'd refused to let him go. RAAAAAAAAAAAA She only visited us once last year - on dh's birthday - of course there was no present, and she would not lower herself to speak to me or my dd. Now I cannot believe I used to think she was just shy and maybe a bit depressed - no she is an evil bitch and at this moment I am her #1 target.

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Mon 11-Mar-13 13:52:42

We get tantrums from MIL, big screaming ones in the street so the neighbours can enjoy. She would never behave that way outside her own house, only her DCs.

MIL is just cold. She comes across as a lovely slightly fluffy kind of person but she's more than capable of leaving her own children in absolutely dire financial situations, if it would benefit herself. I'm not exaggerating. A while ago she tried to convince DH and myself to enter in to a financial agreement with her that would have let MIL completely off the hook for the bad financial decisions that she's made, and we would have been left footing the bill to the tune of nearly 100k. This woman has worked in the financial industry for most of her working life, I can't believe she wouldn't know exactly what she was doing.

flippinada Mon 11-Mar-13 17:56:14

I think sulking is a basically a passive-aggressive tantrum isn't it?

To me the worse thing about this kind of behaviour is how the dysfunction permeates entire families/friendship groups/offices.

I think toxic families are the worst because the others you can get away from..you can drop a friend or you can leave a job but your family is a lot harder to get away from.

noddyholder Mon 11-Mar-13 17:59:14

I remember when we were all still at home my mother wouldn't talk to her dh my step dad for up to 3 weeks at a time. Neither my sister or I can recall why

flippinada Mon 11-Mar-13 18:25:27

The sheer amount of negative energy it takes to maintain that kind of behaviour...that's one of things that really baffles me.Aside from the behaviour aspect - it's just such hard work, so draining to keep it up.

MorphsMum Mon 11-Mar-13 18:50:54

Wow this thread is just what I needed to discover tonight. Had just posted in Chat about being irritable with my toddler - and I know this worries me so much because I fear turning into my mum who was (at times) so critical of me, she was toxic. It's hard to put in writing because it was my dad who sexually abused me so, in that sense, I felt my mother was the better of the two as she did show me love sometimes. But both were really very bad parents in so many ways. I have attracted toxic people throughout life always thinking it's ME not THEM but more recently have begun to get a grip on this and ONLY let in people who are non-judgmental, supportive and compassionate. I just fear terribly turning into a toxic person myself and really value whoever it was above who spelled out the differences, I know I won't really ever turn into my parents because I have pretty much dedicated my life to it! I am happy, I don't think either of them ever was - rich, yes, powerful, yes, but happy, no...

noddyholder Mon 11-Mar-13 18:54:41

My mother must be knackered then! She fell out with both her parents long dead now. Has nothing to do with her 2 brothers or any extended family. Has 4 kids and only sees one of us. Met her current dh when we were teenagers and had another child and he never saw his father(my step dad) side of the family EVER and he is 30 now. Quite unbelievable really.

flippinada Mon 11-Mar-13 19:10:37

That's the thing noddy they seem to feed off and get some sort of energy/validation/reward for this kind of foul behaviour. Whereas any 'normal' (using that word cos I can't think of a better one) would find it just draining and awful and unable to keep it up.

Maybe they enjoy it? I really don't know it just baffles me - as I've said previously I find it easier, more rewarding to behave pleasantly.

flippinada Mon 11-Mar-13 19:20:48

noddy my friends mum is like that, constantly falling out with people.

I have an ex friend who was like that too, but she didn't present as the aggressive/tantrummy type.

She was of the type that seemed very weak and passive, hard done by, very 'poor me, life is hard'...and yet she was constantly, and I do mean constantly, surrounded by drama and conflict.

I felt sorry for her and wanted to help, being kind of a soft touch. I wondered why I dreaded her phone calls and always felt so drained and miserable after talking to her or spending time with her, and assumed the problem was with me.

It took someone else to point out what was actually happening - I just couldn't see it from 'inside'.

noddyholder Mon 11-Mar-13 19:33:01

It is draining The thing is they keep repeating the same patterns all the while losing people left right and centre but never changing. Weird easier to be nice and giving but she sees that as fake and a weakness sad

They're vampires! they drain our energy and goodwill, that's how they keep going! shock

G1nebra Mon 11-Mar-13 19:38:01

MorphsMum, I am really trying to focus on this right now, ONLY getting close to people who don't judge and who have empathy. Thinkinng of getting a book called 'what you think of me is none of my business'. I recognise toxic people when I see them, but that knee-jerk to engage with them is still in me unfortunately.

dothraki Mon 11-Mar-13 19:45:11

Goodjam shock thats exactly it

flippinada Mon 11-Mar-13 20:03:41

Yes vampire is a good term.

My friend almost sucked the life out of me. Looking back, I think she saw me coming a mile off. She was the type who could make a drama out of absolutely anything. I remember on one occasion she phoned me up sobbing and begged me to come over because someone had sent her a nasty message on ebay.

On an another occasion, she manipulated me into giving her an invite into my DS's birthday party (she had a toddler who was several years younger than my son) and when she arrived spent the whole time with a face like thunder moaning about how noisy it was (ffs it's a group of overexcited 5-6 year olds what else would you expect?)

She would call constantly, at ridiculous times of the night, and if I ignored the phone, just keep ringing until I answered - I ended up switching my phone off.

She was constantly borrowing money and forgetting to pay it back. She would never have her purse on her when we were out for lunch, so I would end up paying.

The beginning of the end was when she threw a massive tantrum because I didn't want to go over and see her because I was upset after splitting up with my then boyfriend.

I could go on for pages but I've said enough...it's been quite cathartic to get that out.

flippinada Mon 11-Mar-13 20:15:26

Another thing I have remembered.

Every time I used to meet up with her - and I mean that quite literally -*Every. Single. Time*...she would have a tale of someone who had given her a nasty look, had a go at her 'out of the blue', started an argument for 'no reason'.

dothraki Mon 11-Mar-13 20:27:02

Flippin - I had a friend like that too. She ceased contact with me as I didn't approve of her sleeping with a married man confused. I haven't had contact for 18 months, and it is only now I can see her for what she is. She was vile to and about her lovely mum, and she idolised her nasty, abusive father. He tried to thump me once - I quickly got out of the way - and she said I was being melodramatic. Actually - she was a bitch. She was always falling out with everyone and I know she has no contact with her siblings. When I was going through major serious shite she always thought her petty work problems that she had caused by her attitude were more important than mine. Grrrrrrrrrr

my mum drove my dads family away, yet went to see her family abroad regularly, leaving dad behind to look after the house/dog.

Out of the 3 daughters she has, there is only me who visits. My 2 dsis's are estranged from the family for one reason or another. One of the reasons was that my mum tried to gain control over one of my dsis's children, my niece.

Mum is all over me, but I know its because I'm the only one who goes round, (to see Dad more than her). When my dsis's were around before the estrangements', she'd call me to both of them, and try to coerce me to do the same to my dsis's. And now because my dsis's are not around, she tries to coerce me into calling my aforementioned niece (who thinks that 'nana' is her saviour).

My mum babysits for my nieces ds, and moans about it to me. I don't join in, btw. I change the subject. I do not want to be estranged from them because of my dad (who ended up losing his family because of her) and my wonderful nieces, and great nephew smile. That makes me feel like I'm in control, and can deal with that.

flippinada Mon 11-Mar-13 21:13:43

They do like to spread the misery don't they crushed.

I think goodjam is spot on actually, they seem the suck the life and energy out of people.

dothraki my toxic friend went no contact after taking up with a horrible boyfriend.. which I then had (another) tearful call from her...the whole thing ended up very very badly, but that,s another story. She caused me so much upset. I also remember thinking there was something about her that really unsettled me and gave me a bad feeling, and I couldn't quite put my finger on?

Then one day it hit me after months of blissful no contact - just popped into my head. I never saw her cuddle or be affectionate with her daughter. I mean she was looked after....she would hold her, but there was never any affection or kindness. I don't talk about it much because tbh when I think about it all I feel so sad and guilty sad

flippinada Mon 11-Mar-13 21:14:26

*seem to

flippinada Mon 11-Mar-13 21:16:34

Gosh I've just read it back and that last post of mine sounds very self centred doesn't it? Sorry. It was a very difficult relationship.

yeah they do, flippinada, they just can't keep the misery to themselves, can they? They are effectually saying ''if I'm miserable, then I'll make sure everybody else is too'.

And , no, you are not self centred. If that was the case, we all, at the receiving end of this toxic behaviour, are self centred. And there's loads of us. Because there are loads of them...if you get my meaning..

flippinada Mon 11-Mar-13 22:13:43

Thank you crushed

It's something I find difficult even now and probably always will. I often do wonder about her little girl and how she is getting on.

flippinada Mon 11-Mar-13 22:16:36

And yes, I do get what you mean smile

dothraki Mon 11-Mar-13 22:23:38

Flippin- I agree with crushed, I was friends with this woman since I was 8, it never occured to me until recently that she was toxic, so I think we are quite entitled to have a rant ..... all those years of abuse... and we never get through to them how we feel because as they have no empathy they would just think we were talking rubbish. For mine her lovely ds moved far away when he hit 18 grin

Oopla Mon 11-Mar-13 22:46:10

I'm on stately homes at the minute. Have a fucking MARE of a mother BUT do spend a lot of time thinking about the question "what makes toxic people toxic".

There's a Phillip Larkin poem called 'they fuck you up your mum and dad' and basically on that vein - what I find hard is this point about toxic people having bad backgrounds/upbringing themselves. So what makes me different from my mum In that respect. Surely me licking my winds from childhood is having some affect on my daughter too.

There are some awful people in life. It evokes a sense of absolute bewilderment in you once you see your babies born and realise all that potential Ruined by bad parenting.

I don't know if toxic people know or care how utterly rubbish they are but I suspect in some sense they do not.

Oopla, I keep meaning to read the stately homes posts, must catch up with them....

Yes, it's sad, flippinada, because that little girl was us once. hope she's ok too smile

Nicknamechange Mon 11-Mar-13 23:32:51

I think the difference between you and your mum, Oopla, is self awareness. It is not seeing the pattern that causes damage. You will be a great mum because you will go out of your way to compensate for your background.

I hope that is what I'm doing. I am with my children in a way that neither of my parents was with me. All through my childhood, I watched what my parents did and made a conscious decision not to repeat the pattern because I never wanted my children to feel what I'd felt.

Morph - I'm so sorry your mum allowed your dad to abuse you sad. I'm glad you have managed to find good friends and happiness in spite of that history.

Bolting - thank you for pointing out that we can love someone and not like their behaviour. And for explaining that we are not responsible for our parent's behaviour either. It has helped me in my confusion over my dad's memory.

I am going to leave this thread now, as it's bringing back bad memories and I don't want to dwell on them. But I wish everyone strength in dealing with these difficult people.

Nicknamechange - Just logged back into MN this morning and saw your last post above. I had to take a day away from this thread yesterday, particularly because my Toxic situation is ongoing. Like me, I hope you have found some support in reading this thread and realising there's a huge big group of us 'Toxic Avengers' out there.

I have just added up some numbers and realise that there are currently >20 people who truly believe I am a controlling, drama-filled, hysterical, hard to please, ball-breaking, bullying...poor excuse for a woman, wife, and mother - but then I realise those are just my poor manipulated and lied to (by each other!) in-laws.

You can't change a Toxic (or the people still in their thrall) - that's been a very painful lesson to learn - but you can stop fuelling them with your pain, distress, and anger.

flippinada Tue 12-Mar-13 11:08:13

Thanks everyone, it's good to talk to people who understand and I do appreciate your kind words. I know it's difficult too because of the painful and difficult feelings it evokes.

Another memory from that awful friendship - her incredible rudeness to wait staff. I remember one occasion where she was so rude I sat there cringing with shame at her behaviour - I interrupted and apologised to the staff afterwards.

It also struck me (and this seems to be another common theme) that she expected to be taken care of and was very angry if she didn't get that.

dothraki Tue 12-Mar-13 11:25:46

Flippin - one thing mine used to do - I can laugh about it now - but it was so annoying at the time was - if service wasn't 100% she would ask for her money back. She was apparently annoyed by a light in the cinema so she demanded (and got) a full refund - er - so why wouldn't you just go and sit in a different seat. It was positively tiresome. People used to ask me why I was friends with her - I should have asked myself that one grin

flippinada Tue 12-Mar-13 11:50:41

Funnily enough, I used to get the same kind of comments from people! I should have listened.

I froze out a toxic friend years ago. she'd pushed me too far. When I wouldn't accept her friend request on FB she messaged my brother "why won't she talk to me, why won't she be friends with me, we used to be best friends" He said he wasn't going to type my reply! I'm so much better off. I don't have to justify myself, or be available 24hrs a day, or be the subject of teary self pitying rants. I also don't have to put up with her horrible parents. Apparently it was my fault she got pregnant at 17. because you know, one night I turned into a boy, f***ed her, got her pregnant, then became a girl again.shock They chose to tell me this at a New Years party. I'd arranged to stay overnight to have a drink and they waited til I'd had too many to drive home. sad

LineRunner Tue 12-Mar-13 12:15:57

her incredible rudeness to wait staff

Oh God, yes. How interesting. All my toxic people embarrass me in restaurants, either by sitting there with a cat's bum face all the way through (yes, you, mother) or just being plain rude (various 'friends').

Bogeyface Tue 12-Mar-13 12:49:45

What I dont understand is the total lack of self awareness these people have. My H's family are all very toxic, they have alienated all their family except each other (and even then there are fall outs), have cut off most of their friends for spurious reasons (one being that a friend put all their wedding invites into one envelope to save postage as they lived in the same house!) and yet, it is NEVER them at fault.

How can someone really not see that if the rest of the world is sick of them then perhaps THEY are at fault?

That said there are some serious personality disorders in his family, at least 2 tick every box for NPD and another for NPD and for being a Sociopath. I suspect that when PD are in play, nothing makes sense.

Interesting about the toxic one eating out and trying to assert their ways then. Mother does things like ask for a salad with no lettuce (seriously, she does this), or ask what the soup is say she doesn't like it and have it anyway like she is doing them favour then leaves it in disgust.  

flippinada Tue 12-Mar-13 13:26:31

Oh yes the horrible range of behaviours when eating out - tutting, sighing, pushing food around the tables...I an gritting my teeth just thinking about it.

Bogey I totally agree about self awareness but think if you tried yo understand it our work out why you'd go mad.

goodjam that is just awful. Trapping you and then doing that.

I do actually wonder if my ex friend had a pd. She was almost pathologically needy.

Another aspect which has popped into my head. Incredibly rude personal comments that are made out of the blue and leave you going wtf..did they really just say that?

flippinada Tue 12-Mar-13 13:27:09

Pushing food around the plate!

Ratata Tue 12-Mar-13 13:39:34

Very interesting read, glad this thread was started. I don't really know if my friend is toxic or not. She has always seemed to fall out with people though, had so many dramas in her life and made me feel rubbish on a good few occasions. We have been friends since high school. I was going to start a thread on her but worried she would find it.

When I broke up with my long term boyfriend when I was 22 she texted me to say that she was gaining responsibilities like becoming a wife and mother and I was losing all mine. I don't really know what that meant. She knew I was happy being single at that point. She was about to marry someone she had never been sure if she loved.

When the subject of me and my now DH trying for a baby came up she said "you are going to have sleepless nights, no money and cracked nipples. I am going to be travelling the world". No idea where her daughter fits into that... She is now divorced and I don't know if she's happy or not. She came to my house just before I got married and said "you really do have the perfect life". She can say nice things at times like chatting about my miscarriage but other times she can be nasty. Most calls/chats are 90% about her and 10% about me.

I was at a comedy gig one night and didn't take my mobile. I had numerous missed calls and texts, one which said "why are you never there for me when I need you?" I have always been there. I used to drop everything to go see her if she was having a bad time. I don't do that anymore and trying to distance myself but it's hard. I'm expecting now and she will want to see baby at some point, she lives in the same town as my parents. Not sure how to get out of it...

lottieandmia Tue 12-Mar-13 13:47:05

I've had my share of dealing with toxic family. I agree with much of what has been observed by others on this thread about power and control. I do believe that in the case of my mother she isn't aware of her own behaviour or that it is not reasonable or normal. My view is that toxic people usually had toxic parents themselves and so they then see their own children as their possessions and have a strange view of fairness and acceptable behaviour.

I had the misfortune of having to live with my parents during a spell of illness where I needed help to look after my children. It was absolute hell. But the strangest thing was that even though while I was at their house they constantly told me what an awful person I was and how they hated me and called me all names under the sun, when I finally moved out into my own place they couldn't stay away!!

My mother is goes on about how bad her life is, how she is 'entitled to' this and that, 'deserves to x,y,z' - the implication is always that I don't deserve anything nice because I'm a worse person than she is.

My therapist said that me moving out of their house got me away from the 'dance' they had me stuck in, in which they needed me to be there to play out their little games.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Tue 12-Mar-13 14:19:29

I have only read the first two and last two pages here, will catch up later (if strong enough!).

It is my sister for me. Superiority is, I think, the foundation for her supposed entitlements.

I was thinking on the term "toxic". Those who have the misfortune to experience it-get it-in an instant.

For those who have not had the experience (I hope you don't take that for granted!) it could be explained this way. One way to look at it is as if it is an allergy. As in: I am allergic to my sister. When ever I am around her I get ill. Decades of being degraded, diminished, one-uped, put down, condescended to, belittled: basically the whole menu of "Death By Ten Thousand Cuts" has created a sensitivity in me that I can no longer endure being around her.

Thanks for the thread, flip. It is good and necessary to vent, or even discover about this social dynamic.
bbl

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Tue 12-Mar-13 14:21:06

The sheer amount of negative energy it takes to maintain that kind of behaviour...that's one of things that really baffles me. Aside from the behaviour aspect - it's just such hard work, so draining to keep it up.

this exactly!

My mother aged dramatically a couple of years ago and I can't help thinking its because of the never ending effort of exuding hate and poison for decade after decade. She waged war against my father (total enabler) and scapegoated me all my life. I never had a chance, it's taken me soooo long a journey to realise what damage was done and even start to repair it, and she's turned into a shriveled up poor uncertain little lady. I hate it, I feel like she's escaped somehow, just when I am ready to approach her as a strong aware woman, she's disappeared into this fragile shell. I wish I could just get over it, but I can't, it makes me so angry.

I think it took me so long as her whole abuse with me was that I wasn't allowed to have a self outside the one she gave me, wasn't allowed to exist as a person, just a cardboard cut out role to prop up the family dynamics. Just a twisted and fundamental thing that I had no way of telling anyone how awful my life was, & believe me I tried, & no one believed me/ understood/ could hear me... As a child or an adult.

In childhood probably cos of the less educated times i grew up in conpared to now (educated in abuse i mean) but also cos of the veneer of middle class perfection spread on top. For example, dont recognise the 'being nasty to restaurant staff' thing as that would have been far too public, but the kissing assassination that wohld have happened after, yup, had that!

In adulthood I searched for the story, the script I guess that fitted the way I was brought up, but didn't find it until two things happened - first I found the most insightful and fresh councellor who cut through the narratives that didn't fit, that others tried to put on it (more usual abuse narratives I guess, or 'personality clashes' etc)... And he just reframed it so it was about family dynamics, not just between me and them, and it all fell into place. The other thing was I had Ds and I think like other people on here, I had that bolt of lightening realization that there can never be an excuse for treating your own darling vulnerable child in a fucked up cruel way.

Finding thinking about what she did to me very triggering - i find it hard to keep that in my head as a 'fact'. It had such a profound effect on my whole being, that my memory and really basic brain things are affected.

getting really upset now so can't go into more.

But thanks for this thread as I had parents to stay for the weekend and it's helped me remember why I am in the place I am now, and it's reasonable to feel this anger and hurt.

Lemonylemon Tue 12-Mar-13 14:37:43

God, this thread is depressing me. I had a pretty hard childhood and some of the things I've read here, are my Mum to a tee. The funny thing is that my Dad was very, very ill throughout my childhood and had some sort of epiphany and changed himself in my early teens. My Mum, on the other hand.... Still a "poor me", glass half-empty sort of person.

Any given situation is "all about her". I became a histrionic sort of person until, oh, I don't know, when I had my son, I think. Now I'm much more introverted and a loner and tend to play things down.

I still feel really bad about the histrionics, but I think that the total lack of emotional input from my parents when I was a child, had a lot to do with it.

I shout at my kids, but especially my son. He's 15 going on 16 and is a huge pain a lot of the time. Unfortunately, he blames everyone else for him losing things etc. and it just presses my buttons...... But I try so hard not to be like my Mum <sigh>

.......yes, the 'entitled', childish, rude 'stamping of the feet' streak goes on, doesn't it?

A few years ago, my niece (mentioned earlier), got married in Italy. My Mum was her 'Mother Of The Bride' replacement, as my dsis was estranged from the family by then. My mum made it known to everybody that she was the 'MOTB', but would she contribute any kind of help, albeit financially (the easy part)? No...

My Dad had to do a speech, but would Mum help him write it? No....she couldn't POSSIBLY know what to put, but it 'wasn't her job, anyway'. She was the MOTB. I ended up writing it.

She was asked by my niece to say a just a couple of words, however informal, at the meal, but would she? 'I couldn't possibly' ...No. Well, you get the drift....

I was asked by her and Dad to book them a room at the hotel before the wedding, which we did, as they don't have internet. She wanted a normal room, with half board tarrif. I warned her there were no balconies, but she said she was fine with that, booked the room, she paid up and that was that....til she got to the hotel, and stood there stamping her feet and crying, in front of everybody else, demanding a balcony as she was, yes, you guessed it, MOTB. Utterly pathetic....done nothing for her again since.

So many more stories I could tell.

She is now a means to an end. Her house is a base for me to be able to see other members of the family as I mentioned earlier. Its the only way I can be, instead of being sucked up into her nasty little world.

But am I happy about 'using' her? No. Because I'm mourning the loss of a Mothers love and affection, and she has reduced me to compromising my good nature. Controlling my feelings. Does that sound bitter at all? Sorry for waffling on..

dothraki Tue 12-Mar-13 20:42:43

Crushed - waffle away - thats awful. I'm sure I'm not the only one finding this thread cathartic. You can moan, waffle be bitter and angry just let it all out ..........

I've definitely found it freeing to write things here. although it is also making me think of other things that have happened that I haven't mentioned, so I'm having the odd moments of anger at my nan and sadness for my mum, aunt and one uncle (the other 2 were golden boys in her eyes)

Dothraki, thanks.I'd worry though that if I did waffle away, I'd take all the thread space available on MN for a whole week LOL. Like us all, I bet.

Lemon, my mums mantra is 'what about me?' too. Exaggerated hand on chest at the 'me' bit.

Double, yep, always wondered where they get the energy from. Mine does the 'confused little lady'act too.

They know what they're doing though, make no mistake. Whenever she bumps into my dh's parents, she gushes about how happy she is that we're happy (MIL tells us), then has a dig at us if we change the car, or go on a nice holiday, or look 'too happy for our own good'..

Goodjam, I agree its free-ing to get things out. Do you think we are grieving somewhere for the kind of relationships that we wanted, but never had, with our Mums, or other family members who are toxic?

flippinada Tue 12-Mar-13 22:26:19

I'm on my way to bed but just wanted to check in. There's a lot I'd like to say but find it hard to articulate.

If it's not too boaky sounding, my thoughts are with you all. Thank you for posting!

Goodnight flip, not boaky at all. Goodnight to everyone xxxx

dothraki Tue 12-Mar-13 23:21:38

Goodnight - see you all tomorrow x

toomanyfionas Wed 13-Mar-13 08:18:27

Seems to me that miserable people are only content if they can drag everyone around them into their nightmare. Thinking my mother. Massively toxic "friend".

I can recognise and label the behaviour, but I still have trouble keeping enough distance. Why is this?

I don't know why my mother is so awful. I didn't know her in her early years but her siblings seem nice and normal. From what I've seen of them, at least. Of course she wasn't speaking to any of them or her in laws by the time dc were on the scene so we didn't get to know them.

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 09:15:20

These kind of people seem to fall out with other folk, especially family members, all the time. It seems to be a common theme.

The being nice to somebodies face and then ripping them to shreds afterwards seems to be another favourite.

Yep, my mother goes between her two sisters, not speaking to one for years then moving on to the other one. She also is always complaining about someone or another and I just know she does it about me to my siblings too. She really had it in for my SIL a few years ago, poor love couldn't do anything and she is such a sweetheart.

 

sieglinde Wed 13-Mar-13 10:34:26

Really moved, and feel very supported here - thanks to all who shared.

My mum was the kind of person who made checkout ladies miserable, and berated overworked tired sales assistants. For a while, I was like that too. I learned it from her. She was like that because she was always afraid - of mean girls, of people looking down on her. So she out-meaned the mean girls, got in first. I suddenly understood how stupid it was when I was in my thirties.

Another former friend announced that she was not going to take any shit anymore. This new life strategy meant berating everyone over imagined slights. I think therefore that the 'toxic' are often defensive, like Republicans, constantly armed against perceived enemies.

CaptChaos Wed 13-Mar-13 12:46:24

Since I started calling my mother on her lies, she's stopped telling them in front of me, sadly this means that she does it behind my back all the time. At any gathering, she will grab my friends or DH and tell them truly awful lies about me, terrible things, that I have been in prison, am a druggie, all sorts. Luckily, all my friends know that she will do this and just smile and nod at her, but that's not the point! I know why she does it as well, she has spent such a huge amount of time telling anyone that would listen that I am rubbish and useless that, now that I am finally (in my 40's) not being what she wanted, she can't stand it and does everything she can to sabotage it. I am happily married, have a good few good friends and my boys are both doing well.... what a terrible person I am!!

The gifts thing... yes! I have, for the last few years, received exactly the same gift every Christmas. The same scent (which I'm not keen on) and a £20 candle. I'm sure that, if I liked the scent and 'did' the candles thing, this would be marvelous, but I don't, so.... it's like she's buying for someone she doesn't know at all!

The awful behaviour in restaurants.... yes to this as well! It actually makes me cringe. I have apologised to servers before now because of the way she has spoken to them.

In fact, apologising seems to be one thing I am incredibly good at. Apologising to her for whatever awful infraction I have committed this time, apologising to my ex for leaving him after his abuse (which she made me do, because in her mind at least he hadn't abused me), I had deserved to be hit etc because I am so difficult to live with, apologising for things I haven't done, apologising endlessly for things I have done. Lots of apolgising!

Roll on my DH being made redundant so we can emigrate and I will never have to apologise again! (unless it's appropriate!)

dothraki Wed 13-Mar-13 13:17:56

I'm currently reading Zero degrees of empathy by Simon Baron-Cohen. He mentions about people not getting moral reasoning - for my tormentor this is just so true. For example "is stealing wrong" Tormentor "yes", "So is it wrong to steal food for your starving children" - Tormentor "yes - its stealing" and for her that is the end of the debate. She just cannot comprehend that there could possibly be more to it than that hmm
Capt - I had to laugh - do you think all the poor waiters/bar staff etc. have special lessons in how to deal with these people ? As we've all witnessed these behaviours, but I have never seen any staff been anything but charming and bending over backwards to help them. Do you think they have a code word like red alert we've got another one in -table 5 the lady in the red dress - and does it cost us a fortune in tips as we feel so guilty about their behaviour grin. I bet they have never tipped any one - unless it is to show off how much ££££££ they have

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 13:35:06

Hmmmm...interesting. I reckon you get a lot of "tormentor" types posting in AIBU!

dothraki Wed 13-Mar-13 13:41:12

flipp grin

dothraki Wed 13-Mar-13 13:43:33

now we know where they are
in the middle of bf/ff fights
all car parking threads
in fact just look for the bunfight grin

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 15:49:46

Yes, never let it be said that they leave any opportunity to shit stir unused grin

toomanyfionas Wed 13-Mar-13 18:14:05

I have five siblings. The golden child has cancer. I can't help but feel this is her body bucking from the pressure of carrying my mother's toxicity. A terrible burden to bear.

Helloooo, just checking in. Wow, more posts, more personal experiences, more wonderful support grin

It's unbelievable/unfortunate just how many toxic people there are.

There is nothing wrong with us, it's definitely them...doesn't stop me thinking about the times my Mum said there was something wrong with me, mostly when I tried to stand up to her. Never did have much self confidence, now I know why.

I have been getting angry the last 48 hours over the things she has said/done, especially when more important things have been rearing their ugly head.

Her snidey remarks/ putdowns pale in comparison compared to my dh's recent experience with cancer. He had chemo today as a precaution, to stop his cancer coming back. Such a wonderful man, my dh, so much more important than her. Yet she is hardly ever ill, oh, sorry, apart from the 'imagined' illnesses...where is the bloody justice???

LineRunner Wed 13-Mar-13 18:26:48

toomany and crushed, hope you are both doing ok.

I have no contact at all with my mother. So sad; but life is much quieter now.

sorry toomany, just seen your post, it took me ages to write mine. I spent too much time editing/adding/deleting the swear words....

I hope the cancer is curable for golden child thanks. That in itself will be justification smile

Fine thanks linerunner. It was testicular cancer, luckily the most treatable one of all (didn't feel like it at the time).

They took it all out, but he wanted the precautionary dose of chemo to be shut of it once and for all, to carry on with his life....rotten start to the New Year, but we've now crossed the finishing line grin

It always seems to happen to the good ones, doesn't it?

linerunner, I agree it is sad. Like the loss of a parent. Or more precisely, the loss of a parents love. Is that how you feel?

I think its sad, even though I'm still in touch with my Mum (not too often, and I'm happier for it).

dothraki Wed 13-Mar-13 18:45:49

Crushed - so sorry about your dh.thankswine

toomanyfionas Wed 13-Mar-13 18:55:31

Thanks linerunner and crushed. I am pretty good thanks. My sister is in her last days but of course my mother's take on this is self pity. I feel pretty philosophical about it all these days, almost like an observer rather than a participant.

Crushed I'm so sorry for what you're going through. How are you coping?

toomanyfionas Wed 13-Mar-13 18:59:16

linerunner it is very sad to have no contact with your mother. It's all wrong isn't it. I am painfully aware that I may be burdening my dc with issues but I hope there is enough good for them to thrive and enjoy their lives the way they choose, and to know and feel how much I love them. I struggle to understand how mothers like yours and mine can be so cruel.

thanks doth, glad its all over now, just outpatients appts for him to go to every few weekssmile

Still angry that things like cancer happen to the best of us, while the toxic ones get away with good health.

I bet she'll still be alive when she's 90.. sad

toomany, so sorry about your sister. My dh's experience was just the tip of the iceberg compared to what you're going throughwine thanks .

How dare your mum show only self pity at a time like thIs !! JESUS !!angry angry angry

capt, I understand what you mean about the apologising bit. Found myself doing that on many occasions. Don't think I've done it for a long time now. Why the Hell should we apologise? Should be the other way round...

Sorry if I keep dipping in and out of posts here, reading bits as I go along and replying.

Got a headache developing, so bear with me smile

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 20:22:39

crushed glad top read your husband is doing well and toomany so sorry to hear about your sister. Your mother sounds appalling angry and I'm sorry you have that in your life. Sending warm thoughts to both of you.

While reading this thread I've been mentally composing a list of toxic behaviours that seem to keep repeating. If people are interested I'll put the list on here so you can all see what you think?

ohmygoshandgolly Wed 13-Mar-13 20:23:11

There are some really terrible experiences on this thread and I am recognising so many similarities with my relationship with my mother.

As with us all, there are so many occasions where I have been on the receiving end of my mother's toxicity - it is just the norm now. I know that every phone call, family gathering or visit to her house is going to be difficult.

I really identify with what Doublelife said about not being allowed a life outside the one her mother gave her. My mother wanted carbon copies of herself, two daughters she could manipulate, play off against each other and control. My dad has always been her enabler, without a doubt. But both my sister and I have, at different times in ours lives, also played that role.

Once we found lives of our own; boyfriends, husbands, children, she couldn't cope with the lack of control over us.

Two days after I had my first child, when I was a hormonal wreck, battered from a traumatic delivery and trying to make sense of it all; she sat in my son's room, as I struggled to feed him, and she cried, saying that she had nothing worth living for, and that my son would "turn on me". My beautiful, innocent baby. I can never forgive her for trying to ruin my chance at motherhood. Four years on, I feel anger, resentment and sadness.

I have tried to keep her at arms length since then and i feel sad that, unlike so many of my friends, I don't have a supportive mother to champion my own attempts at being a parent. Her words haunt me and there are so many other things she has said to undermine my capability as a mother.

I find that I am punishing her by not giving her time with her grandchildren, basically because I feel so uncomfortable in her company. We see them about once a month. But is this fair on my DCs? How do those of you with toxic parents, help your own children to have a relationship with their grandparents?

dothraki Wed 13-Mar-13 20:30:12

Ohmygosh - thats awful. I have no advice on that but here wine.

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 20:48:28

Ohmygosh I'm not surprised you feel resentful. Given your mothers awful behaviour, are you sure you want your DC to have a relationship with her?

I understand that you feel bad but the responsibility for all this lies with her, not you. She's the one missing out because of her behaviour and that's not your fault.

As everyone on here will know though, much, much easier said than done.

LimeLeafLizard Wed 13-Mar-13 20:53:26

flippinada please do post your list of toxic behaviours repeated here. I have been watching the thread with interest but haven't yet managed to gather my thoughts sufficiently to summarise my experience.

toomanyfionas Wed 13-Mar-13 21:21:01

ohmygosh go with your instinct. If you don't want to see your mother, distance yourself. You have my permission! She cannot be good for you or your dc.

My big moment was when my first child was born, too. My mother said she was a terrible baby, the worst she'd ever come across, and that I didn't know what I was doing and would probably kill her. She went on and on about her being fat (she was 7lbs) to the point that I reduced feeds. Looking back I feel awful that I starved my tiny, helpless newborn and exposed her to the poison that is my mother. I vowed to never see her again.

However, at around the 2yr mark I decided to allow minimum contact. I'd had time to strengthen and work out how I wanted to parent, to cherish my child and not apologise for that. And since then I have allowed occasional contact, but never leave the dc alone with her. Remarkably, my adoration of them seems to have rubbed off on her and she thinks they are the best things since sliced bread! Not sure how this tallies with general toxic relationships but there is something up thread about people not treating you badly if you don't let them and I think that in changing myself she was forced to change a smidge.

It's a tough one though. I think we hold onto hope that our mothers will one day show us the love and tenderness we long for, no matter how awful they are.

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 21:25:14

Ok here's my list of 'common' toxic behaviours. Just to kick around some thoughts/ideas and not definitive or anything. I've been thinking about this a lot over the last few days.

- childish behaviour when confronted/challenged, like tantrumming and sulking.
- overly negative/pessimistic outlook - everybody is out to get them so they get their licks in first
- have an overdeveloped sense of entitlement.
- enjoys creating drama/conflict and will find an opportunity to do so in the most innocuous scenarios.
- suffers from frequent, undefined illnesses which they use to exert control .
- refusal to take responsibility and an expectation (entitlement again) that others will take responsibility for them.
-always falling out with people, often for completely spurious reasons.
- rudeness to anyone they consider 'beneath' them, for example wait staff.
- requires an enabler

Interested to hear what you all think.

flipp , the toxic list is a great idea. It will show in cold hard bullet points/numbers what the traits are.

Ohmygosh, memories are coming back of me and my 2 sisters playing off against each other.
My youngest dsis alaways liked to remind me and my other dsis that she was our half-sister (different fathers, same mother) once we all found out that was the case.

My mum would always say to me that I was the best daughter etc yet til the other 2 admitted she told them the same thing, years later.

Many years ago, my dh and I were trying for a baby. There were gynae problems involved, so I had to go into hospital to undo damage to my fallopian tubes, the only time I could ever conceive naturally. My Mum knew this, and that I was stressed out because of our 1 chance.
So guess what? She rang me up the night before the op, told me she'd had a row with dsis, and wanted some advice, then said 'sorry to land that on you, the day before your big operation'. F**K OFF!!

sorry, flip, was a bit late posting. The list is bang on the nail smile heartbreaking as it is..

toomanyfionas Wed 13-Mar-13 21:40:46

Awesome list flip! Couldn't have said it better myself.

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 21:41:43

Thank you crushed

I had the idea of the list when I was following through the thread, it just really struck me that a lot of the behaviours follow a pattern. You also see it in other scenarios, where someone is dealing with an abusive partner, and it's almost like they are following a script.

It is horrible isn't it, especially when a lot of us have been bought up with this. Toxic colleagues..well, you can leave a job and toxic friends you can go no contact with, but your family - that's something really big.

When I think of children going through all that and not knowing what the hell is wrong, but knowing something is wrong and and not understanding why they feel so awful and feeling like a bad person - that really, really upsets me.

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 21:46:38

toomany thank you too.

I've thought of another one - can't bear not to be the centre of attention.

dothraki Wed 13-Mar-13 21:52:42

Flip - great list - except my narky thinks everyone is beneath her grin

yes, flip, can't bear not to be the centre of attention is definitely another one.
Just poo, isn't it? sad

ohmygoshandgolly Wed 13-Mar-13 22:06:36

Thank you for your support - it is so good to feel I am not alone. I do need to think carefully about the relationship between my DCs and their grandmother. As they are so little, it isn't really a burning issue at the moment, but I am really anxious about handling it properly.

The list is so accurate that it's scary.

toomanyfionas Wed 13-Mar-13 22:07:16

I think the list sums up the narcissists. But I do think there are other toxic behaviours. Thinking of a friend, not so much of a friend anymore, I distanced as it dawned on me that everything she said was negative, she bad-mouthed everyone and generally had a miserable outlook on life/found the worst in everyone/thing. But I was fooled for a long time because she says everything in a nice, friendly way. And was actually very kind to me, constantly offering to look after my dc etc. But I came to noticed that she so often complained about doing other people favours that she was probably complaining about me too, even though she offered and was insistent, so I felt uncomfortable about staying in touch.

If that makes any sense!

Does this ring bells for anyone?

dothraki, that reminds me. Dh and I lived in the same village where both of our families were based.

I worked at the local firm there, so I often bumped into my colleagues socially or at the supermarket. I remember my Mum looking down on my work colleagues if ever I stopped to speak to them in the village, looking them up and down as if they were something she'd trod on, and they'd slope off quickly. I got some flak about that at work, believe me. Just awful.

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 22:17:24

You know dothraki when I was typing that I did think..that'll bed just about everybody then!

Yes toomany I know the type you mean.

oops *trod in

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 22:17:37

Be, not bed.

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 22:22:03

That relentless, joy sucking, negative attitude can be just unbearable. If they do it in front of you about others, you know they'll be doing it about you as well the moment your back is turned!

CaptChaos Wed 13-Mar-13 22:22:30

Yes, the 'let me do that for you, of course I'll have the DCs for you' and then either deciding on the day that she had never said that she would, or couldn't because of some spurious reason or she'd actually have them and then moan and bitch to someone on the phone in front of the DCs so they'd tell me about it.

Flip great list, just one suggestion? They have to have 'golden children' and 'scapegoats' and that these can change without notice or reason.

dothraki Wed 13-Mar-13 22:27:37

toomanyfionas - that reminded me of my ex friend. If I might the slightest criticism of someone (like some random celeb gossip stuff) - she wouls say stuff like "you are always so judgemental" er no I'm not, but then she'd slag off everyone. I'm only just seeing some of this - but its like I was always in the wrong.
Crushed blush

flippinada Wed 13-Mar-13 22:28:43

That's a good one to add to the list Capt golden children and scapegoats. Thank you.

Of course the "rules" can't be consistent -that would make sense which cannot be allowed in the messed up world of the toxic tormentor!

That whole list is spot on, but yes a big fat definite yes to Chaos and the golden child syndrome. (Still waiting my turn to be in favour, after 30 odd years I think my moment may have passed hmm)

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Wed 13-Mar-13 22:50:21

Really good list.

Just thinking... are these universal traits or not?

- imbues all events and interactions with a huge amount of hidden (negative) meaning - an unrealistic amount of subtext is always seen

- they 'own' the family/ group narrative, & will twist & lie creating it causing cognitive dissonance in us

ATouchOfStuffing Wed 13-Mar-13 23:06:35

The Golden Child thing is weird. All my life I was never original enough, a late developer, mis-pronounced things (commonly of course which meant I had to see an ear specialist when I was 3 to have grommits even though I could hear fine -she continued hounding my pronunciation all my life), was too fat/too thin = which makes my nose look big, self obsessed and a lazy slob. She took me for a brain xray when I was 13 as she said she thought I was mentally defective - the Dr's even told her it could damage me as my skill was not formed properly, but she insisted. Nothing wrong at all. She would fly into rages and shout/scream at me. Threw me out in the snow one Boxing Day when I was 14 and used to tell me horrible lies about my dad abusing me and hitting me (in case I favoured him to her of course).
When she died the neighbours said all she ever talked about was me and how amazing I was shock

ATouchOfStuffing Wed 13-Mar-13 23:08:01

Thankfully I am an only child, which might have been her quandary there I suppose grin

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Wed 13-Mar-13 23:09:41

My sister was the golden child btw, but became very ill from age 15, and led to a hideous situation where my sister was at once revered and abused as my mother oscillated between adoring her as the perfect daughter, & wanting to destroy her as competition for attention/ starring role. For example my sister couldn't use her room after coming home ill from uni, so my parents organised a trip to ikea with much trouble and fanfare... Then REFUSED to put the drawers up as they (really, my mother), they'd done soooo much for my sister already and she's was grasping & selfish blah blah blah... I put them up when I next visited, 4 months later sad

Then things like they refused to get a chair my sister could even sit on, in the kitchen or lounge... As her illhealth ruled their house and it's not fair everything revolved around her... So to the day my sister died she had nowhere to sit sad

My darling sister was such a good person, and let them treat her like crap as she didn't have anyone else to look after her... If 'looked after' is the phrase am looking for.

I carry so much guilt.

ATouchOfStuffing Wed 13-Mar-13 23:14:24

Double that is awful. It's horrid how we are always the ones with the guilt. I felt guilty for imagining she had just slated me to the neighbours (felt defensive wondering what they had been told) and it was as if from beyond the grave she was still pretending to be the perfect mother, making me wonder if I had it wrong all of these years.

dothraki Wed 13-Mar-13 23:17:36

Double - oh my god, I am crying for you and your poor sister. Please do not feel guilty, this was not your fault.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Wed 13-Mar-13 23:48:23

Thanks, crying myself, I don't talk about it often, hurts too much.

It was always about how difficult life was for my mother, and yes, it was hard and we all believed we should be so sympathetic to my mother the victim, at the expense of ourselves. It was only when I had Ds that I realised I'd die for him if I needed to, and it would be my choice, nothing ever put on Ds himself.

So after my beautiful sister died, I started to get ill, and now am disabled needing 90+ hrs of care a week. My mother didn't speak to me for 4 mths before Christmas but went around telling all who would listen how stressful it was for her to have another ill daughter! Lovely.

Ok am waffling but bear with me, am psyching self up to say something big.

My sister was never diagnosed, she was the 'problem patient' who got told there was nothing they could do, and fobbed off. I think this was in part (great part) because my parents colluded and pushed this view themselves... They told her, she told her, that it was all on her head, she was making it up, she wanted to be ill. And my sister was so so scared, as her body fell apart and she couldn't get anyone to listen.

I got diagnosed with a genetic disease and partly because my 'family history' was so bloody obvious. Turns out ive aleays been in alot of pain but cos my mother had such a vice like grip on my reality... I didnt know. Even now, a physio or medic will ask me, how are you feeling? And i wont have a clue.

My darling love my sister, She had a text book symptom by symptom list, and yes it's rare, but nobody even bothered to look. She type was terminal, mine probably not. But if they'd have known what she had... She probably wouldn't have died how she did, when she did. She could have lived years longer, with proper treatment and management.

dothraki Thu 14-Mar-13 00:50:02

Double - sorry I tried to post earlier but my computer crashed. It really does sound like your parents put the doctors off. Normal parents would have been begging for a diagnosis. thanks

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 08:59:31

Double what an absolutely heartbreaking story. I'm so sorry that happened, for you and for your sister.

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 09:01:44

I can understand that must be terribly painful to think about, let alone write.

sieglinde Thu 14-Mar-13 10:50:05

Oh, double... so brave of you to say all this. Full of admiration for your courage. thanks

Lemonylemon Thu 14-Mar-13 11:34:12

ohmygosh My mum has done quite a few turns with other people's situations being all about her. I really feel for you.

My fiance died suddenly when I was 6 months pregnant. She went on holiday the night he first collapsed, which was OK, she did ask me if I wanted her to stay and I said no. But, he died 8 days later without ever gaining consciousness. She didn't come home. She didn't really want to speak to me for the next 10 days she was on holiday, either. When she did get home, she texted me to let me know she was home. I asked if she wanted to come round for a coffee (mid-afternoon, this was) and she said that she was "too tired and would see me tomorrow".

Now, I'm not a perfect mum by any means, but if either my son or daughter's partner had died, I'd have been on the first plane back home, no questions asked.

Now, onto when DD was born. My mum looked after my son for the week I was in hospital with DD. After she dropped me off home, she literally ran out of the house. I stood there in the kitchen for 20 minutes cooking dinner for DS and I. I'd not long had an emergency CS. Then she used to complain that she was tired because she was doing the school run for me. I ended up back behind the wheel (after clearing it with the doctor and with the insurance company) 2.5 weeks after having DD doing the school run. We didn't see much of my mum until my DD was about 8 months old and I was due to go back to work.

I know I should be the bigger person, but I find it very hard to come to terms with what she did.

I think I've also posted that my sister is at her wits' end about my mum's behaviour at the moment - but then, my sister is the golden child and is finding the battle of wits with my mum quite hard.

Lemonylemon Thu 14-Mar-13 11:43:22

Double your story and your lovely sister's story is so, so sad..... sad {HUG}

dothraki Thu 14-Mar-13 14:23:00

Lemony - thats bloody awful too. I wish we could just give them one bloody big shake - I wish they had some empathy so they could understand the dreadfulness of what they have done. Sadly that will never happen.

I had an emergency c section. I remember resting after it and my mum rang about 3 weeks in asking if I was driving yet. I said no. She went "its not as if you've had major surgery".
My face was like this shock
and I had to say actually mum, yes I have had major surgery!
I know that is a direct result of having to fob off my toxic nan's "illnesses", but I wish she'd thought before opening her mouth!

Lemon, my story is nowhere near as bad as yours. I'm sorry your mum doesn't seem to have time for you. sad

And Double, your story is heartbreaking. You have so much of my sympathy. sad

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 15:59:00

Lemony sad

How can somebody be so bloody self centred!

I've come across this behaviour myself. A"friend" from uni. One of her housemates had to go and identify her fathers body after he died in an accident. My "friend" turned it it a big whiny drama about how stressful it was for her.

She also dropped out of her course claiming to have ME (not disputing it exists at all, just that she had it) yet could manage endless trips/nights out and holidays.

dothraki Thu 14-Mar-13 16:08:18

flippin - its really truely shit. They have no empathy - it makes my blood boil. angrysad

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 16:22:58

No they don't.

I suspectthat a lot of toxic people come from very dysfunctional backgrounds, but that begs the question, why some people turn out toxic and not others, when they have the same background?

dothraki Thu 14-Mar-13 16:30:20

Exactly - but I don't know why hmm

colditz Thu 14-Mar-13 16:34:50

I once rang my mum to ask if she'd watch my children for two hours while I went to hospital in an ambulance for a morphine injection and to pass a kidney stone .... No, apparently I should be more thoughtful about her job as I KNEW she was supposed to be at work the next day. I offered to pay her a days work and she could take the day off .... No, I should have KNOWN how tired she already was.

All she had to do was get in a taxi and doze on the sofa, the kids were in bed, then I'd have taxied her back. She lives less than a mile away.

What I ended up doing was pissing grit and blood into a bowl in the kitchen whilst sobbing down the phone to nhs direct nurse who could not have been more kind.

And I haven't ever really forgiven her for that. I've forgiven her for a lot of things, but not that.

Flip I think some people turn toxic maybe because of how they were brought by toxic parents themselves, then there are the people like us who recognise the behaviour and who do everything we can to stop the cycle

Colditz how awful for you. Have you got people in your life now that you can rely on?

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 17:03:46

Bloody hell colditz that's awful! I know how painful kidney stones are too.

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 17:08:00

I'm not surprised you don't want to forgive your Mum after that.

What kind of mother wouldn't go to their child when they were crying in pain? sad and angry

LineRunner Thu 14-Mar-13 17:53:43

Flip that's an important question, isn't it, about all sorts of abuse - why do some people turn out to be 'in the mould' and others don't? What makes the difference?

Some years ago my Dsis and I both decided enough was enough and we would not treat our daughters the way our other treated us. I'm not always sure how successful we've been, though. We both worry a lot about traits we may have 'inherited'. Ironically, my mother's own oddness was partly in response to her rejection of what she saw as her own 'terrible mother'.

I hope Dsis and I have broken the cycle. The fact we tell our daughters, and show them, that we love them, has hopefully been a start.

LineRunner Thu 14-Mar-13 17:54:34

our mother not 'our other'

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Thu 14-Mar-13 18:09:42

Typing from a&e as poor Ds got knocked off climbing frame.
Brings back memories... My mother refused to take me to a&e when I had a broken ankle, was inconvenient & too stressful for her. Ffs. Not as painful as kidney stones though... Ugh how cruel.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Thu 14-Mar-13 18:18:16

On the question of what stops some people from passing down the pain to the next generation...

I wonder if the difference is that the people that break the pattern understand the pattern, enough to break it... My mother would complain about all the instances of favoritism in her family, but couldn't draw a pattern from it... Ie my mother did X and she's a bad mum, VS my mother did X so ALL types of rejecting are bad... Or something like that?

Also perhaps we question everything and will admit when we did something we don't like. Changing only happens if you are brave enough to see what needs changing.

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 18:21:14

That sounds like a good start to me Linerunner

I'm guessing you're a similar generation to me - I think that our parents generation were bought up with the idea that if you showed too much affection or gave too much praise you would "spoil" your kids. Just musing - I could be talking out of the proverbial!

Also making a show of yourself or airing dirty laundry in public was not done so people wouldn't feel able to talk about things?

Non of that excuses or explains plain old nastiness though.

lolaflores Thu 14-Mar-13 18:21:47

all of these posts remind me of my mother over the years.
In paticular the treatment of my youngest sister who is turning into her henchman. Sister is "ill". Sister had difficulty conceiving.
When I told my mother I am pregnant with 2nd DD,
"Oh what do I tell Sister"?
My friend has mentioned too that my mother does great PR for me. Everyone loves her, won't hear a word against her, yet I recognise none of that.
No present is acknolwedged.
No resteraunt is good enough, she often sits there dry heaving.
She is always in the mood to strip people apart behind their backs and seems to revel in her isolation and lack of social life, but is a simpering lovely bag of fun to their face. Two minutes later she is taking them apart. All the human race are shit bags, trust no one.
since childhood, all I have ever had from her is sneering contempt, distaste and outright hate.
One day coming home from school, i picked some cherry blossom on the way and gave them to her when I got in. She laughed before tossing them in the garden.
which was nice. Then there was the jolly time she told me I was adopted and that if I wanted she could show me the paper work. I was 10.

However, when I "need" her, she will oblige, before bailing out at the most inconvenient moment, or start a fight or something which means she is heading in the opposite direction like a streak of bad luck.

I have been tested for fucking everything as a child. Sent to remedial classes, hearing tests, painful gynae internal exams that showed nothing (aged 7), and so on. She some how feels villified now that I am diagnosed with bi polar depressive what have you including self harming and suicide attempts, the "wrongness" of me had emerged.
My sister is gay, my mother wishes we all were as The Gays are much less trouble.
She manipulates, lies and generally acts out all over the place and I do not know how to seperate her from me.
My therapist suggested that trying to build a better template of a mother inside me to replace the fucking lunatic I was handed through no fault of my own. The eternal disappointment is becoming unbearable. it really is.

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 18:25:54

Aw your poor DS Double hope he's ok! Things like that do bring up memories don't they. Make you think "how could you"?

LineRunner Thu 14-Mar-13 18:32:25

lolaflores, Dsis has had years of therapy and what you describe as 'trying to build a better template of a mother inside me to replace the fucking lunatic I was handed through no fault of my own' is totally what Dsis needs to do to retain her sense of self; especially if she is going to maintain even sporadic contact.

I have cut all contact and my mother hates me. I think I have the easier life, tbh.

My mother also seemed/seems to take a vicarious pleasure in her grandchildren falling ill or having accidents. Often whilst in her company. Not a well woman.

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 18:32:46

sad Lola

That's terrible. What a vile woman.

dothraki Thu 14-Mar-13 18:33:09

Lola - that is tragic. Do you mean her eternal disappointment in you ? Is your sister supportive ? Can you reduce contact with your mum ? You are a better mother than your mum. I'm feeling rage at another mother again RRRAAAAAAAAAAAAA thanks

colditz Thu 14-Mar-13 19:04:21

Hellfire, Lola sad

Flip, theres another to add to your list. Linerunners comment about taking pleasure in children being taken ill or hurting themselves in accidents. Disgusting.
I've a feeling your list is going to get longer....sad

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 19:16:49

I had a feeling I was only scratching the surface crushed

Horrible as it is, I'm not entirely surprised.

I can remember my stepmother forcing my sister to compete in a gymnastics competition when she was really sick, because she was "putting it on for attention".

Aw lola, how awfulthanks sad
Your poor dsis, just can't believe how evil some people can be. About the adoption threat, did she show you any paperwork?

I can relate to the adoption part. Especially as I was the same age as you.
When we were little, (I was 10, my other dsis's 7 and 13), my dad left us. For a few days. (silly man came back)

In the time he had left, mum told me and my eldest sis that our dad wasn't our real dad, that he officially adopted us, but he was the real father of our younger dsis. She told us our real dad was dead. Me and my elder dsis formed a close bond because of this. Our younger dsis who seemed to have a closer relationship with our mum, started calling us her half-sisters. Awful.

Any way, years later (I was in my 20's), mum told me and my elder dsis that we didn't share the same father either, that it was my dad that was dead, and dsis's dad had buggered off (wise chap). She only told us this to 'purge her guilt'. she says, and felt soooooo much better afterwards for it. Thanks mum.

The close bond between my dsis ended there and then. She didn't want to know me, and later in life, as in now, she has bipolar and schizophrenia.

I'm looking forward to the day my mum tells me she's not my real mum.....she's taking her time. Hurry up, woman, the clocks ticking!!! sad

Crushed, maybe you should tell her you're not her real daughter. You know this because you are worthy of a loving, thoughtful, tactful mum, but somehow you got her instead. wink

SmellsLikeTeenStrop Thu 14-Mar-13 20:21:50

crushed, do you think she was telling the truth about you all having different fathers?

akaemmafrost Thu 14-Mar-13 20:31:01

I see my Mum a lot in this thread.

I had a c-section with ds, they came to see me a week or two afterwards. They were there for about five minutes when she announced she wanted to go to Ikea, with me and I should leave my EBF newborn to come and traipse round Ikea with her. I said no and she sulked for the rest of the visit.

Another time I was taken into hospital for something quite serious, I rang her to tell her and she said "oh no, well you will let me know how you get on won't you?". Didn't come to be with me or even visit while I was in.

Most recently she told me that women who are domestically abused should be stronger and not let it happen to them, when I called her on it she said "well when you're like this I can see why your ex was like he was with you". He was extremely abusive towards me.

She has always tried to triangulate family relationships through her. I have virtually no relationship with my Dad because of this.

Every special or important occasion has always ended in a row and her having a massive sulk.

She goes none contact for months/years on end.

She has has fallen out with every single family member.

I feel like I've had enough but can't quite give myself permission to end the relationship. My kids love her and always ask when we can see her. We are in a no contact phase at the moment.

When she is saying spiteful things to me she gets this weird look of pleasure just before she says it, I always know a zinger is coming.

I could go on and on and on sad.

Sorry for all of us on here dealing with this kind of thing.

My mother can tick every single box on that list that was up earlier.

It's too exhausting to go into all the details over the past 45 years but she managed to have me in tears on Mothers Day. She had a bad fall and has just come out of hospital - i went early to visit her with a balloon, Roses and a nice card. My daughter wanted to make me Breakfast but i felt i had to rush to see her and i took my daughter (aged 10) with me. She was weepy on arrival so i knew the signs weren't good.

Looking back i fell into her Trap. She spent 15 minutes moaning about how cruel and horrible my dad was whilst he was in the kitchen. My Dad is a classic Enabler, he is a lovely Grandad and wonderful father but he excuses her vileness and her abuse of him. He dotes on her and is totally dominated by her. I am the only one in the family who checks her behaviour on occasion. My Brother says nothing so is Golden Boy. I tried to focus on something positive and said why don't you try to get well then you can go and stay with your friend in Spain. Her friend is always asking her over and if my dad is so' horrendous' then the break would do her good. Because she likes to be miserable and make everyone else miserable she turned this around to me never having been a good daughter and just out for what i can get and how i should be keeping her and dad together hmm
Then she told me to get out! I know she will not contact me and i have never heard her apologise to anyone ever for the way she acts. But my dad knows how upset i was and he hasn't rung me. He will be hoping i apologise to her to keep the peace when i know i did nothing wrong.

I did think she was getting easier as she got older but this has been a wake up call. The constant Hypochondria before this is draining - she has visited every hospital in the area but no one understands how ill she is and how she hasn't got long. They have all told her she is fine but they are all wrong and she is the expert.

I know if we are to speak again it will probably have to be me making the first move but i'm just so tired of it all. It's hard to relate to people who have 'normal' mothers. I did have a wonderful relationship with my late mother in law so i know exactly what i'm missing, unfortunately.

I suspect that a lot of toxic people come from very dysfunctional backgrounds, but that begs the question, why some people turn out toxic and not others, when they have the same background? - food for thought. My mother witnessed Trauma when very young and i think her mother overcompensated with her and spoilt her - then my dad came along and enabled her and made her the centre of attention too. The fact that she behaved the way she did to me on Mothers Day infront of my own daughter says to me that i should be making sure this never happens again. My daughter does not need to go through this too. That's why i know i will never be like my mother - because my children come first.

Good idea, goodjam. I might just do that.

Smells, I have seen my adoption certificate stating my dad legally adopted me.
My dad was present when she told us about my dsis father being different to mine.
She sat there crying. I remember being in shock so not sure if they were crocodile tears.

I have seen my real/ biological dads grave too. He doesn't have a headstone, but his records say that the number on his grave matches his name.

There is a pic of my dad ( if it is) with me in a pram, but can't tell if I look like him or not as he is looking in another direction.

The weird thing is, he is buried next to his sister (if she is) who has the same first name as my eldest dsis...

also, forgot to mention in any of my posts that dad is her enabler/colluder...

akaemma, yep, the weird look of pleasure before saying something nasty......I've seen itsad

LineRunner Thu 14-Mar-13 21:08:32

bringback and crushed I've only just started to think about my father as having been an enabler, just because of this thread. He's a very strong personality.

LineRunner Thu 14-Mar-13 21:09:50

akaemma God, my mother actually had a different timbre to her voice when enjoying misery.

akaemmafrost Thu 14-Mar-13 21:17:34

How can they have so little self awareness? But then I guess no one ever tells them do they? It's almost impossible to confront them, the fall out is just too huge.

I remember when my grandma died (Dads Mum) I was visiting there at the time and my Mum had spent the entire day slagging the poor woman off to me (yet another family fallout). Anyway my Dad called into see his Mum on the way home and she had died sad. He rang my Mum and she spoke to him on the phone then came in and said to me dramatically "may god forgive me for all I have said today, your Grandma is dead!" and that's how I learned that my grandmother had died. From then she just took over in the grief stakes, sat at the end of the table with this sombre look on her face droning on about it, absolutely loving the drama. My Dad couldn't get a word in edge ways. Honestly I wanted to punch her and I know that makes me sound horrible but I really did. Never had a good word to say about my Gran when she was alive and sat there playing the grieving relative at the end.

And STILL no one confronted her.

linerunner-my dad is the opposite. He is weak. As much as I love him dearly

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 14-Mar-13 21:22:00

*akaEmma Frost*: if it helps any, you have my permission to end the relationship. wink I am guessing your dc must still be rather young. Once children get to be 12-13 yo they start noticing who they'd rather be around and who they'd rather not-even without having the vocabulary to enunciate why. Also, yes to the triangulation. Have you heard of the Drama Triangle? Google has a number of articles on it.

DoubleLife and Lemon your experiences are truly just awful. I am so sorry for you that you had to endure that. {{hugs}}

Also {{hugs}} for everyone else.

My mother had me down as the invisible one; middle sister was golden, oldest (adopted) was the scapegoat/black sheep. Mom died when I was 18, many years ago. Middle Sister picked the flag up and continued with the incessant redicule/dismissiveness that mother taught her to do to me. I am just now 99% complete in my head with no contact with middle sister...having not seen her in 5 years. Counselling does help get through the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) and validates that family duty can have its limits.

LineRunner Thu 14-Mar-13 21:22:27

I am beginning to see that my dad has a strong personality but was very weak where my mother was concerned. And vice versa.

Even after they got divorced they were the biggest drama in the western hemisphere and still are to some extent.

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 21:23:44

aka - can I just say I don't blame you for wanting to punch your Mum there. Not one bit.

These stories are just so sad and infuriating. I want to post something supportive but am vicious of not wanting to sound patronising.

I think to recognise what is going on and try to counter it, cope with it or even just say"nope, not putting up worth it any more" takes a huge amount of personal strength, ave ours clear you all have that in spades!

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 21:24:42

Am conscious, not vicious! Bloody hell, sorry blush.

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 21:26:37

Aarghh...And it's, not ave ours.

akaemmafrost Thu 14-Mar-13 21:29:25

I think though that this stuff is so normal that you don't even realise until you post it here and people are shock about it.

Everyone's so lovely on here, it's a great thread.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 14-Mar-13 21:32:15

My counsellor has the opinion that, because they will never change, confrontation is a waste of time. They will just deny. Its my word against hers. And, as the world knows who is superior...hmm whatever.

(I hope I wasn't sounding patronising. I certainly didn't mean to. Sorry.)

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 21:33:11

Yes everyone thinks their family is normal because it's pretty much your whole world until you gee to the age of reason, or can go or and see friends etc.

Of course by that point a lot of the damage is already done.

flippinada Thu 14-Mar-13 21:34:18

Oh dear, my phone doesn't like me tonight.

LineRunner Thu 14-Mar-13 21:38:10

AndTheBand I think you are right.

I wish my Dsis would stop persisting with her attempts at a final confrontation that will somehow fix everything. It won't. It's sad, and unfixable. Sometimes it just is.

akaemmafrost Thu 14-Mar-13 21:41:02

When I was moaning to my sister about her she said "well it was always coming wasn't it, it could be 7 minutes, seven hours, or seven years in between Mum Performing but you know it's in the post".

She managed to disengage years ago though. My mum is quite scared of dsis actually as she just won't play the game. I wish I could be like that.

LineRunner Thu 14-Mar-13 21:49:42

akaemma I have tried to get my Dsis to disengage. She says she will. Then there is always one more email, one more letter, one more phone call.... and our mother sucks her back in and then bam the bile pours out again in a torrent and Dsis is left completely bereft.

akaemma

...and still no one confronted her. Not surprised. Awful woman. Scared of the fallout like you mentioned.

Has anybody ever tried, like me, to confront their mums but found it hard to get the words out that they want to say, rooted to the spot? I often think its shock, that somebody could say such awful things, that we develop brainfreeze and not be able to say what we really think, or just totally stunned into silence? Do I make any sense at all? sad

akaemmafrost Thu 14-Mar-13 21:51:54

sad does your sister have her own dc? Sorry if you've said earlier in the thread. I found it was a lot easier to not take do much on board once I had my own children.

aka you can be like that. You have the strength, trust us.

We'll hold the hands of anyone who wants to take that step.

I've thought of another horrible nan story but it affected my aunt. When my aunt was diagnosed with diabetes they went through blood types. She realised she didn't share a blood type with either parent, so my grandad wasn't her Dad. sad
She confronted my nan a couple of times but nan always changed the subject or even ignored her.
My nan died without my aunt ever finding out the truth.

akaemmafrost Thu 14-Mar-13 21:56:04

Yes! I have been like that. So stressed that you just can't get the words out. And when you do it sounds petty and of no big deal because you can't form a coherent train of thought. I think since we were born they've scared us so that fear is laid down as actually part of our brains wiring. I remember arguing with my Mum on the phone in front of my boss once (she was a mate too). After it was over I was shaking and couldn't even stand up. My friend said that I looked like I was going to pass out. She gave me fag which I took and smoked and I had been given up for 10 years!

akaemmafrost Thu 14-Mar-13 21:58:02

God that's awful. Those stories about fathers not being fathers and not telling the truth about it are just horrific. They are worse than anything. Everything you've believed and your own self knowledge smashed to smithereens in an instant sad.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 14-Mar-13 21:58:46

One tactic sister will try when she knows she is "in the dog house" is to lie low for awhile (as if her silence to us is punishment-if she only knew smile) and then try to pick up the relationship where it left off just like nothing happened. She then proceeds to the apology: nay, non-apology. The first one was something like this: "I am sorry that you are offended. I just can not figure out what I said or did that offended you, I am really scratching my head over this." I did not respond. The second one, years later: "Can we get past this? I truly apologize for whatever I did." I responded with: "Truly apologizing for "whatever" is an exercise in dismissiveness, so that's a no."

Sounds bitchy. But in her black and white world, I'm either a bitch or a doormat. I've done the doormat for over 4 decades and I'm just not doing that any more.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 14-Mar-13 22:03:15

Linerunner: Imho, one day your sister will get it. She will get to the point of enough is enough-even if it does take years.

goodjam, I truly feel for your aunt. I always think our roots start with our parents, but if the roots are fractured in some way, then we are fractured sad

LineRunner Thu 14-Mar-13 22:27:38

I hope so, AndTheBandPlayedOn. But I think this one could go the distance for my Dsis.

I am very conscious myself that the lack of a mother's love is dislocating.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 14-Mar-13 22:38:23

LineRunner-my oldest sister is in limited contact with the 'toxic' one. She knows the deal and sets boundaries. I believe she had awareness of the dynamic long before I did and thus the damage was mitigated somewhat. I was completely engulfed (sort of like being the golden child to my Middle sister after mother died...crazy making!!)

Here I am venting again, and I was thinking I was over it. blush I am not participating with her anymore, so that's progress. Hopefully there is a way forward to making peace with it so I can kick it to the back of the shed dump it in the landfill and leave it there.

LineRunner Thu 14-Mar-13 23:05:07

Sad, isn't it? I don't know if it ever really goes away.

My mother's latest madness (when I last spoke to her) was her burial position in the family graves.

RadishRobin Thu 14-Mar-13 23:28:02

Firstly, so sorry to hear of some of the very sad experiences of people here, especially double and lemon.

I’ve been following this thread as I have suspected for years that my mother is ‘toxic’, at least as defined here. It has caused lots of heartache for me and others, and has definitely affected my approach to life and my self esteem. I have wondered if she has a personality disorder .

She presents initially as charming and friendly. As people get to know her, she puts on a weak, passive 'hard done by' act. She acts the martyr – doing ‘favours’ you never wanted her to do in the first place, moaning how hard it has been and making you to blame for it

Only to very close family does she act in a cruel way, or tantrum. Then she alternates being cruel and being kind, to keep you hooked in. Then she makes the ‘incredibly rude personal comments that are made out of the blue and leave you going wtf’!

She lies to people about how others behave, to keep herself from blame.
She's very nosey / intrusive - doesn't respect privacy
She’s always angry with someone, or has fallen out with someone. She tends to have one 'target' / victim at a time. She also alternates who she idolises, often on a quite spurious basis, e.g. their nationality –
She sulks – for years she used sulking to punish my Dad after an argument, and to control all of us by having us all tiptoe around her
I have a few embarrassing restaurant stories, too!

Another thing is – she tries to spoil or hijack my ‘happy days’. My wedding day was a good example of this – she ended up in tears because we ‘hadn’t invited enough of her family’ (we had invited the ones we knew and were in contact with).

Her behaviour, particularly when I was a child, has impacted me. Mainly it has made me a rather insecure person - I'm never sure if I'm OK, or if I'm a good person. I instinctively fear that other people might be secretly angry with me. I also have the fear that I will screw up my children, that they'll hate me.

So a question for the people here – how do you think your toxic person’s behaviour has affected you?

ATouchOfStuffing Fri 15-Mar-13 01:01:15

Andtheband - I know what you mean about never really getting over it.I went to counselling after mum died but it was too soon and I was still grieving and got really angry with my counsellor. I have an appointment booked again (first time since she died in 2005!) this month. I think birth of DD and a few other things have triggered me thinking of her and 'mummy nature' and not wanting to pass it on. I think certain situational memories will be bought up as I go through life but the trick is to see how it made you feel and avoid/feel proud you won't ever do that to your DC, or if you do then you at least acknowledge it and apologise.
Radish I am also very insecure. I constantly feel people don't really like me and have a lot of friends as a family substitute. I think this kind of desperation is why I picked controlling friends; it's only now I feel healthy enough mentally (thank god for my poor memory, some things really do fade with time!) to see that I only need a few really good friends. The rest are just fluff and I waste time and energy running about after them, just like I used to with mum.

lolaflores Fri 15-Mar-13 07:49:50

RadishRobin, my mother's carry on through the years has chipped away at my self esteem, mental health and confidence. Reality for me has been a problem, actually knowing what is real and what is not...literally...creates anxiety and often hallucinations.
I agree also with the idea of confrontation and ending up a dribbling wreck because everything sounds petty and small. there is no point continuing the confrontation as mother sits there with this "look" amused and titillated by it all.

My mother's hypochondria is 2nd class attention seeking. she has had a litany of problems from day 1. I have had countless surgery since the age of 3, still ahve a big scar over my pubis where a cyst was removed. My father died when we were young so she crucified herself on that since then. no one else suffered but her. She starts stories with "When your father died", never "my husband" or Daddy or P****...somehow it was our fault. our father.

In honesty, sometimes I meet myself coming back. i am sick of her misery and lack of joy in life and have vowed never never to lose the capacity for happiness and to not treat the drubbing of innocent people as a sport. Avoid other people's drama

Quiltsgalore Fri 15-Mar-13 08:26:25

Lola, love your last comment on avoiding other people's drama.
Sometimes I liken my family to a zombie film, now that I've been reading up on various forms of toxicity, I.e. narcissism etc, they seem to be popping up everywhere.
I always thought I had some fundamental flaw which meant I got the bad experiences I deserved. My parents are both dead, my father was a narcissist, my mother a codependent, my dsis breaks all the rules on narcissism though. She was diagnosed with MS over 15 yrs ago and never took any medication. She is in a wheelchair and needs 24 hour care and harasses all and sundry. As I'm the only close family left I bear the brunt of her toxicity. She channels our mother sometimes in her desire to rope in my son too to do her bidding. It it worse than any horror film.
I sacrificed my youth to cater to my mother's whims, she wants me to continue sacrificing to serve her. Literally.
I married my first dh to escape the tyranny. Only to face another narcissist! Divorced him and had a great life as single mother for 8 years. Went back to school, on top of full time employment, never dated for fear of the same.
Married again 3 yrs ago because everyone was telling me to get a life, including ds, whom I was probably smothering. At 11 he wanted more freedom I suppose. Dh has 2 kids from his previous marriage and though we look normal
WE ARE NOT. His ex is a sociopath, her dd the golden child, her ds the scapegoat. My dh has own issues I see now and these have brought on new waves of anxiety. I can't cope and feel I need drugs to carry on. I can't carry all these people with their unbelievable problems. Thank God my ds appears to be a well grounded teen. Do I need a psychiatrist? Sorry for long rant.

lolaflores Fri 15-Mar-13 08:39:07

quilts, I have created a whole world in my head to where I go of an evening in bed. no one gets in on it. I have a house, pets, solitude in there and it feels safe and home.
That in itself sounds mental but it helps me cope and gives me a journey to look forward to each night it also helps me sleep. I am the person I want to be in there, not the version everyone tells me I am. Hopefully in a matter of time the person up there will start to emerge out here.

If your sister has help and care provided by someone else,then don't play the game as everyone above has said. Though I need to do the same. Be prepared for an almight kick off though. that is a given but if you can weather it, keep going. Start small, like a space in your mind for yourself. it really helps, believe me.
do think about counselling though, it can only deflate those memories and feelings once you disown them in the open air.

Quiltsgalore Fri 15-Mar-13 08:58:31

Thanks, Lola, you sound like a lovely person.
I am making a bit of progress, otherwise I would not have recognized myself here and spoken up. I recently insisted on getting a small couch for a corner in the kitchen I am now curled up on and writing this. It is my space and only the cat shares it.
I know flu goes round every winter but sometimes I think I get ill when I'm down much more easily.
Dh and I are getting some couple counseling sessions, its helping but they don't have a magic wand. I have to learn to become stronger or get taken advantage of. I'm sad that a romantic partner would do this, but yeah, they do.
I suppose I find all the disillusionment weakening. I read a lot of self help books and think I've cracked the code to better living with each one. Maybe there is no code and we simply need to eke out the best conditions we can simply to survive? Xx

RadishRobin Fri 15-Mar-13 09:34:01

I constantly feel people don't really like me and have a lot of friends as a family substitute - atouch, yes that is exactly like me. It has taken me years to build up a really good circle of friends but I am so glad I have. They are my safety net, proof that I can't be the bad person my mum makes me out to be, or I wouldn't have so many.

Reading this, I believe my case isn't as severe as some. Maybe because although my Dad did enable her at times, he was also a very supportive influence and so were his family.

Quilts you sound as though you have a tough time with so many toxics in your life. Lovely that your DS is well. IME It is a good idea to have counselling, because it is only when you start to unravel your experiences that you can get free of them. Your couch sounds great! And I like Lola's idea of the space in your head.

It has made me insecure. I look back and think i was very low in self confidence as a child. I do everything to make my kids feel the opposite. I find confrontation difficult and can fly off the handle. I aim to be laid back and easy going but it's an uphill struggle. My mum is insanely jealous if anyone is chatting and smiling at dad or showing him interest more than her, she sulks and says he's a dirty old man if the waitress talks to him, yet constantly tells us that she married 'the village idiot' and could have had her pick because she was so beautiful. I feel like Dad has sacrificed his life for her selfishness. He had lots of friends and was a jolly soul when they met. She slowly ostracised him from them all with her deep rooted insecurity and jealousy and did the same with his family. She always comes first. It makes me terribly sad but i have now realised things will never change and this is the life he chose. I do remember begging him to get divorced from her at 14 but all he ever says is "But i love her."
He cannot walk away from the abuse.

I don think that she has a deep rooted mental health problem, especially her conviction that she has Cancer but Hell would freeze over before she sought help.

I too have some good friends around me. I was chatting to a very old friend on Facebook from Schooldays. She went on a family holiday with us when we were teenagers and knew my mum and got on with her well. She said she noticed that she was very critical of me infront of her and compared me to my friends a lot and it made her feel uncomfortable. She also noticed my brother could do no wrong. I get on very well with my brother and feel no animosity towards him. He is a lot younger than me and very passive.

But it is a lightbulb moment of clarity when you get the opinion of an Outsider.

Lemonylemon Fri 15-Mar-13 10:04:32

"how do you think your toxic person’s behaviour has affected you?"

My Mum never hugged or kissed me as a child as I'd pushed her away when I was about 12 months old. Hugs and kisses weren't a part of our childhood. Even now, I am very self-contained and only feel comfortable hugging and kissing my children when they're young. My son does hug me though. (He's a pain sometimes, but is lovely). I very rarely kiss my mum goodbye. I am self-contained, but then, I've had to be. I'm also quite insecure.

When I was very young, my Dad was the authoritarian and very distant, but after a near-death experience on the operating table, completely changed.

My sister, who was the golden child, has taken a lot longer to come to the conclusion about Mum as me. She denied it all until about 3 years ago and has slowly been working her way along to her conclusion. I was the scapegoat, so used to the crap that got dished out.

I feel very heavy hearted and teary typing this post, but hey, there you go, can't be helped.

Double that story is just dreadful sad

To everyone else on this thread - my thoughts are with you all. {HUGS}

Quiltsgalore Fri 15-Mar-13 10:17:43

Hugs back! lemon and fellow threaders.
I'm so glad I found this particular thread, its like reading about myself from different angles, or a parallel universe where life is even worse, its scary.

I'd like to share this link, just found it on an impulse and I'm laughing and crying about it, as the idea of being selfish is so absurd for anyone on this thread.
Www.coachville.com/basic/attraction/topten2.html
Let me know about your baby steps! wine

CaptChaos Fri 15-Mar-13 13:08:02

How has being brought up by a toxic bitch affected me?

I had no self esteem for a very long time, I thought that no one would ever like me for who I was, so I became a people pleasing chameleon, it was awful and ended with me very nearly committing suicide. She was my NoK so the hospital called her. I was lying there, attached to machines and all that jazz and she started crying embarrassingly loudly and said 'I have never understood why you have such low self esteem'. I knew then that she had absolutely no insight into what she had done and who she is, which oddly helped me to accept the help I needed. Up until then she had had me completely fooled, I was totally convinced that I was useless, fat, stupid, had wasted my life, had ruined her life, the whole litany.

I totally get the idea that even if you are able to work up the balls to confront them, the whole thing just sounds so petty, such tiny little things, but it all adds up to an adult, dumping their adult difficulties and problems on the shoulders of a child and it's vile. I can't imagine ever being able to list why I can't have a relationship with her, she would just start crying and telling me what a terrible daughter I am and always have been, and I've heard it all before. I have grown a small set though, when she started to make MY children 'golden child' or scapegoat she got told in no uncertain terms that I was having none of it. I can protect my lads in ways I could never dream of protecting myself.

I now have real friends, in fact I have a good few of them. I know they are real friends because when she sidles up to them to tell them about something awful I did (real or imagined) they tend to laugh at her and tell her that I am amazing now, and then tell me what she did and said and we have a giggle. The FOG is slowly clearing, we are planning to emigrate in the near future and all shall be well!

tadpoles Fri 15-Mar-13 13:20:21

My father was/is somewhere on the narcissistic spectrum. The older I get the more I can see how dysfunctional his behaviour is. My mother was kind but never really stood up to him so ended up enabling his bad behaviour.

We had the classic dysfunctional family scenario whereby the siblings all had 'roles'. I was the one that caused no trouble. Which in some ways wasn't that bad but it means I find it hard to stand up for myself. Also, having a narcissistic father has definitely impacted negatively on my relationships with men.

What I have found is that the family dysfunction continues into the next generation. My father treats the grandchildren differently, favouring those of the 'golden child' (one of my sisters) especially the boys (he is incredibly chavenistic, although that wasn't unusual in his generation).

I have had to work very hard to minimise any negative impacts on my own children and in fact they have a reasonably good relationship with my father. I didn't allow my parents to minimise the achievements of my children (as my parents did to me) and tried to make sure that I treated both my children equally and fairly. I always tried to encourage them and not be too critical as my own parents were incredibly critical and judgemental - nothing was ever good enough.

The one good thing about having a toxic parent is that you become quite adept at spotting it in other people and you know how to avoid them/minimise their impact. For instance, I can spot a narcissistic man pretty easily, whereas some of my friends have been blindsided by charming men who have turned out to be narcissistic/sociopathic etc.

My radar is not as well tuned with women, however and recently I have had the misfortune of encountering a couple of women who, it turns out, I would say had personality disorders. Unfortunately, by the time I had worked it out, they had caused considerable harm to my private life/career.

Well, that's another story!

I've had some counselling but in the end it's best to become your own counsellor. If you have had poor parenting you end up having to parent yourself.

The other word of warning about counselling - there are some dysfunctional counsellors out there so shop around and be careful. I came across one who made things worse - deliberately provoking me and baiting me. Took me eight sessions to see through her little 'game'. Since then I have been in contact with other people who have experienced similar things with a counsellor. Shocking but I guess vulnerable people make rich pickings.

LineRunner Fri 15-Mar-13 17:34:47

I agree there are some shockingly bad counsellors out there - people who are themselves toxic.

Always go with your gut instinct and have an initial session and avoid any counsellor who makes you feel uneasy or stressed.

0blio Fri 15-Mar-13 18:46:35

Thank you for this thread OP. It's so sad seeing the people who have been in my life described so accurately here.

Double, you have struck a chord with me, saying that you were only allowed to be the person your mother permitted you to be. I am struggling to 'find' myself and develop some sort of individual personality. Very difficult when you feel you are a non-person.

Until now, I have been the invisible child (and the scapegoat too for good measure), I have never been nurtured and I've had two abusive husbands. I have to be very wary and hypervigilant with my adult children because of the risk of manipulation sad

0blio Fri 15-Mar-13 18:47:16

Fortunately, if a bit late in life, I am quick to recognise toxic behaviours. I work with someone who displays all the traits mentioned but what I cannot comprehend is why is she so damned popular?

Seriously, despite being PA, a drama queen who has frequent screaming tantrums (Yes. At work!!), and is a needy, selfish, narcissistic attention seeker, people seem to love her. Why on earth should this be? I cannot stand the woman and avoid her as much as possible. I think I have insight but can't work out why people would be drawn to such a despicable character.

0blio Fri 15-Mar-13 18:57:36

Agree it's best to be your own counsellor.

The one I had did help me become more self aware but sometimes sneaked in little digs.

For example she once said, "I'll bet your son thinks it's great that his dad has found another woman."

She worked from home and on one occasion her husband opened the door and shouted and swore at me for ringing the bell while she had another client in the house.

I accepted this because at the time I didn't think I deserved to be treated any better.

Fuck, I'm angry now angry

Oblio They might not like her. they might be too scared to not be friends with her because of how miserable she could make their lives.

flippinada Fri 15-Mar-13 19:00:44

Hey 0blio glad you're finding the thread helpful.

WRT your colleague, lots of sympathy. I bet she isn't well liked at all. People will just be worried about keeping on her good side and not being targets.

0blio Fri 15-Mar-13 19:04:18

Good point goodjam. She's either being horrible or fawning all over people, hugging them and telling them to text her when they've 'got home safely' (laughable as most of us have less than half an hour's commuting time)

She loves it if anyone's ill or in trouble, her face lights up at the merest hint of another's misfortune.

0blio Fri 15-Mar-13 19:06:29

That's what I'm going to tell myself flip, I hate getting drawn into this kind of thing. Most people can shrug it off - even the people she's been abusive towards - and I'd love to as well.

oblio, there is a saying 'keep your friends close, but your enemies closer still'. Well, not exactly the same,,but your experience with your work colleague isn't too wide off the mark..

flippinada Fri 15-Mar-13 19:17:47

Oh see I cross posted with goodjam! I reckon she's spot on.

People like that are just so horrible to work with. I had a colleague like that - she could change the atmosphere of a room just by walking in to out. Just awful.

bringback-my dad is the same with my mum. He loves her too much. He won't leave.
He does answer her back,'yeah, yeah, fetch me carry me', when she demands something, but he still carries on doing everything for her.

ohmygoshandgolly Fri 15-Mar-13 20:16:11

Every time I read this thread, I feel comforted, supported but saddened that so many of us are dealing with the same sort of experiences.

I agree with those of you who have a group of friends as a substitute for family. It takes me a while to get to know people and to trust them, but once I feel secure with them, they are friends for life. In fact, the friend I have known all my life, also has a toxic mother, and we get great comfort from knowing that we understand what eachother is going through.

I find it really hard to describe my relationship with my mother to friends. I really don't know where to start. I try to give examples, but I can't ever really convey exactly how she makes me feel.

It seems that so many of you have been able to maintain a relationship with your siblings despite falling into the scapegoat/golden child scenario. I'm keen to know how you manage that.

My mother plays my sister and me off one another. When one is the golden child, the other is the scapegoat. I was the golden child for about 5 years, until I was about 25, but I genuinely didn't know it at the time. I had no idea she was being so hideous to my younger sister. Telling her she was at a terrible university, that she had awful friends/boyfriends etc. etc.

I only found out how badly my mother was treating my sister, when it came to my sister's wedding. My sister had handmade all her invitations and it had been a real labour of love. When it came to sending them out, my mother decided that they weren't good enough for her friends, so secretly got others printed, sent those to her friends and sent my sisters handmade ones to everyone else. My mother then told me that she had done this and it was only at that point that I saw the light and began to question her relationships with us, her daughters. Thinking about it now makes me so angry and guilty.

My sister never told me how awful our mother had been to her, and how it affected her. I know that she withdrew from the family. My sister and I tried to rebuild our relationship soon after she got married and I had realised how terribly she had been treated. Our mother hated the fact that her daughters were actually getting on really well. Unfortunately, my sister then moved overseas and at that point my relationship with her took a nose dive. I am now the scapegoat (and have been for the past 10 years or so) and my sister is the golden child.

What I don't understand is why my sister can't see how I am feeling or how I am being treated, having been on the receiving end herself. Surely she, of all people, should 'get it'? Instead, every email I write to my sister is forwarded on to our mother. She allows any trip back to the UK to be carefully controlled by our mother, to the point where I have to beg for any time with her (she was able to come and spend the day with us but not stay overnight).

So, those of you who have managed to keep a sibling relationship going, through the whole golden child/scapegoat routine - how have you done it?

Sorry this is a massive post!

Oopla Fri 15-Mar-13 21:39:05

Ohmygosh- really funny feeling reading your post about your mum with you and your sister. My mum has been strange since db moved out of home and got his own life. If he visits me or vice versa she's constantly texting or phoning. It's weird, like she has to know what we're talking about or something. I still get on with him because he's very stoic about mum. He doesn't mention her much and doesn't talk back to her about me. He just doesn't get involved with the backbiting. Good on him.

Awful what your mum did with the wedding invitations does your sister know? I hope you can get that closeness back with her (Dsis) in the future. Sounds like you were good ally's.

ohmygoshandgolly Fri 15-Mar-13 22:23:41

I don't know whether my sister knows about the invitations - I've never dared mention it.

As for being close allies - I don't think we have been...yet, but I really think we could be in the future. At least, I hope so.

Just saying goodnight, will be back tomorrow smile

Big <hugs> to you all, and much hand holding xxxx

dothraki Sat 16-Mar-13 09:55:46

Oblio - I had to laugh - I had a work colleague exactly like that. The day after my lovely mum died - she rang me, to spend an hour discussing her up coming disciplinary (just to chat about it) I said do you know my mum died yesterday - her response - oh yeah - and continued chatting about her problem - caused by her being such a stampy footed princess (in her 40's). Sadly the good staff (including me) left because of her intolerable behaviour.
Its the whole - being lovely to people - that fools everyone.
They do not see the nasty bastards who have become so adept at hiding their true persona.

flippinada Sat 16-Mar-13 10:35:23

dothraki it was the same where I worked; and in fact I left for the same reason. So glad to be out of that place.

dothraki Sat 16-Mar-13 12:06:49

Me too - its soo good to get those people out of your life grin

dothraki and oblio-I posted previously about being bullied by a work colleague, well, yes of course, why didn't I see the bloody link til now? Staring me in the face. Thought something sounded familiar, The toxicity. Mum. I'm in the process of looking for another job.

dothraki-I had to ring in work once to say I couldn't come in as dh had an op the day before (short notice) and needed help getting around. My colleague laughed and joked about it like he had a boil on his bum or something. Of course, people could only hear her half of the conversation on the phone It was the day after my dh had his tumour removed from his testicle, which turned out malignant sad

Also whats scaring me is thought of subconsciously taking on my mums bad traits. I try my best to be as nice to people as possible, only to be bullied/scapegoated in return. A vicious circle. I don't have children either so cannot lead by example......

dothraki Sat 16-Mar-13 13:55:58

Crushed - and its so bloody annoying, I think they get promoted out of harms way angrysadhmm

doth, I wish they would promote her, as long as she doesn't become my boss. I don't think she'd go for it if offered anyway, she is intending to stay where she is, and sit on her a**e til she retires. Thats why I'm looking for another job sad

dothraki Sat 16-Mar-13 14:15:53

Crushed - you get yourself promoted and be her boss grin

doth- I 'd get my own back, thats for sure...

grin dh thinks I look deranged....

lolaflores Sat 16-Mar-13 16:03:30

I scan my behaviour for mother. Which is a worry. I look alot like her, which I think is the root of the problem. face transplant

lola- I have my mums facial features unfortunately, but dad's colouring (depending on who my dad is, as in earlier posts on this thread). I haven't got wrinkles as bad as hers, though.grin

Seriously though, one of the reasons I don't go out with her in public anymore is so that nobody can remind me we look alike.

That, though, won't be half as bad as anybody saying we're alike personality wise. Luckily, that hasn't happened. However, if the occasion should arise, I will not render myself responsible for my actions....

lolaflores Sat 16-Mar-13 17:14:09

The most ashamed I ever felt of her was inveigling herself into the hospital room of a friends son on the grounds of supporting his mother and basically watching him die. Rather than absent herself and allow the family to be with him as he took his last breath (he was 22 or so and a life times illness) she felt it was OK to sit there. Naturally she reported the details (it wasn't a good death) in that rapt breathless wonder like she had seen something unique. It disgusted me and still does but she can't imagine what the problem was.

flippinada Sat 16-Mar-13 17:34:43

Oh lola how utterly horrible.

flippinada Sat 16-Mar-13 17:36:07

If you told her you wee disgusted and ashamed would it even register? I'm not really one for internet diagnoses but from all you've described she sounds sociopathic.

lola-I'm finding it difficult to find the words... shock sad

lolaflores Sat 16-Mar-13 18:07:43

My psychiatrist has said that she sounds a sociopath to not put too fine a point on it. I told her that she had behaved appallingly but she saw herself as a charitable person helping the mother. Would not have it she had overstepped any sort of a boundary. The mother who she was so concerned for is a person she wouldn't piss on if they were on fire. Bit like everyone else she encounters.
Like the day after my dad dies, she got a neighbour to drown the dog....for no apparent reason. I saw him taking the dog away in his arms down to the river. She thought we hadn't noticed. Never explained that one either.

A litany of abuse throughout my childhood and beyond. But she was the "only adult there" having to cope with us and being widowed. a hard station indeed but I don't see how it means you have all your empathy for 4 grieving children wiped out.

dothraki Sat 16-Mar-13 18:46:56

Oh lola - {{{hug}}} what a fucking bitch, winewinewine It makes me wonder if we're all going to become alcoholics angry

flippinada Sat 16-Mar-13 19:19:03

Yes, I think that just about sums it up dothraki

I know this sounds melodramatic but I physically shuddered when I read your last post lola

I know it's just words on a screen but I just feel so sorry that you and your siblings had to go through that.

0blio Sat 16-Mar-13 19:52:45

shock lola sad.

I am a bit of a wineo actually. It helps me after a day at work. I start thinking about it and looking forward to it at about 2pm each day blush

Crushed and dothraki, it has to be turned around to be all about them, Every. Time.

I've had a bit of a lightbulb moment about toxic colleagues and why they're popular. Could it be positive and negative 'strokes'? So when they're <boak> really nice to someone it's so out of character that people feel they're somehow privileged and special to be given this treatment?

I could be absolutely wrong about that of course smile

flippinada Sat 16-Mar-13 19:58:49

Oh yeah 0blio I think there's something in that.

It's the work version of scapegoating and golden child, isn't it?

My awful ex-colleague had favourites and people she didn't like. She would openly talk about peoples personal issues in front of others. I once asked a long standing member of the team if I'd done something wrong as she seemed to really dislike me. His reply "no, it isn't your fault-she doesn't like anyone".

dothraki Sat 16-Mar-13 20:06:28

Oblio - I agree with that too.
We didn't all work in the same hell hole did we grin

0blio Sat 16-Mar-13 20:20:33

Sadly no dothraki, I'm still there.

dothraki Sat 16-Mar-13 23:44:42

Oblio - well here's some for you winewinewine
and just for later winewinewine

speaking of wine wine wine wine

I remember another occasion sad
When me and my dsis's were younger, my dad worked shifts so we were at the mercy of our mum.

One particular day, she went to the freezer to get some ice cream out after we had our tea. She opened the ice cream tub to find there was not much ice cream left in it. She went mad. It was a new tub. She asked us who had eaten the ice cream, and nobody answered.

She pulled out a bottle of brandy and sat there drinking it. She said if nobody was going to own up to eating it, she was going to ring a taxi to take her to the nearest river and throw herself into it. It was horrifying. She had hold of the telephone receiver in her hand ready to dial, looking at us all, waiting for us to own up.

Then she 'rang' a taxi firm to pick her up.
We were hysterical by this time, not realising she hadn't REALLY rang for a taxi. We all owned up. The look of satisfaction that crossed her face because she got a result. 'Well, if you owned up in the first place, I wouldn't have had to do that, would I' Our fault.

Hope I'm not hogging, things keep coming back. And I do like a wine wine myself.

CaptChaos Sun 17-Mar-13 11:29:05

Ye gods Crushed you hit on something mother dearest used to do. We were never allowed to finish anything. If you finish something, you're greedy. As in 'Oh Chaos, no wonder you're fat, you finished this jar of marmite, how greedy of you!'

Our cupboard was stuffed full of jars of various things, jam, marmite, peanut butter etc with just the last scrape in them. My DB and I were masters at doing this, because neither of us wanted to hear the 'I have no money, and you're eating me out of house and home' litany. It got so bad that at one point we had very little actual food in the cupboard because it was full of almost empty packets of things, my DGP's looked after us one weekend and threw them all away. Terrifying!

Even now I find myself doing this, my DH thinks I'm insane, and deliberately finishes things, while giggling that he's being greedy!

oh yeah, the 'eating us out of house and home' one. I was a little chubby when I was little, loved my food, always went for 'seconds' at school dinners. Mum used to buy things in that she knew I liked, yet would admonish me for eating them. ??..

As I grew older, I lost the puppy fat, and have maintained a respectable weight since. With much carping from mum, who is a few sizes bigger, looking me up and down when I walk through the door. 'How do you do it?' she asks...shock . My piece of advice, 'well, don't buy in what you know you'll eat a lot of'. she replies 'that's something I've never done' shock

ATouchOfStuffing Sun 17-Mar-13 12:19:25

YY to eating me out of house and home! Afternoons usually started with moaning about 'having to cook for you' and then once she had'slaved away without any help' (if I went into the kitchen I was getting in the way or doing everything wrong - I wasn't even capable of grating cheese properly!) and then if I had the audacity to eat the whole plate full of food, I was guzzling/going to get really fat by the age of 30/must have worms. You can't win. If I ever pointed out that her food was nice - NICE was a word I wasn't allowed to use as it was a flimsy word - then I was patronising her....

atouchofstuffing-hmmm, interesting that saying nice things is being patronising.

So we, at the receiving end of this toxicity, are patronising, then. shock Because, obviously we are nice. Too nice. And they can't stand it, can they? So they try to make us feel small, because we are something they can never be. Trying to stamp it out of us, bit by bit. They want us to be like them, maybe, because we show them up by being nice.

How dare we be nice?

I'm surprised there isn't a book written especially by narks/toxics, called 'Being nice...What's WRONG with these people?'

I'd buy it in an instant, I 'd want to know why they say what they say.

flippinada Sun 17-Mar-13 13:33:58

"You can't win"

I think that about sums these types up.

You tie yourself in knots trying to do the right thing but you'll never get it right because they are setting you up to get it wrong.

flippinada Sun 17-Mar-13 13:34:52

By which I mean wrong in their eyes....which is all the time...and on it goes.

you're right, flipp. 'you can't win'.

As for the setting you up to get it wrong..where DO they get the energy to think about these things and put it in motion? sad

dothraki Sun 17-Mar-13 13:51:39

Do you think there is hiiden away NarcsNet - where they joyfully swop their stories of spite and venom. It seems so bizarre to me that all these totally random people are behaving in exactly the same way shamrock
<I only did shamrock because its there grin>

flippinada Sun 17-Mar-13 14:22:09

That's the million dollar question isn't it crushed. Why?

I will just never, ever get it when it's just so much easier to be nice.

I do think it must be a miserable existence, being so relentlessly negative all the time.

The ones like Lolas Mum frighten the life out of me (sorry to talk about you in the third person Lola)

I think I might ring my mum up in a bit and ask her:

'Wow, how DO you do it? All that ENERGY you use for the relentless negativity you pass on, by God, surely you must get tired sometimes? Are you taking a 'nasty' version of pro plus?

I agree with you flip about Lola's mum, sorry too, Lola, for the 3rd person talk.
Anyway , better get some housework done before my tablet gets confiscated lol, the bathroom is growling at me. Speak soon x

flippinada Sun 17-Mar-13 15:17:36

Lol at nasty pro plus!

So how do you deal with them then? Any Tips?

I haven't spoken to my mum since she upset me on Mothers Day. My best friend is having a 70th Birthday Party for her mum this week and wants me to invite her, my dad and my brother. I also have a show my dd is singing in at school and got tickets for them all. I might ring my brother and see if he wants to go. I just cba to ring my mum - she will let this go on and on and my dad will want me to pussy foot round her as usual.
She's not going to change. She just goes through some periods when she's okay and others when she's like this so i don't really know how you can deal with them really, apart from trying your best not to let them intrude in your own life when they are behaving badly, keeping them at arms length or just cutting them out completely.

flippinada Sun 17-Mar-13 17:19:50

Bringback It's tough. Really tough.

I think one option, if you feel up to it, is to treat them as you would a toddler, for example "I will be doing X at Y time. You are welcome to come but if Z happens I will be leaving".

The only thing I know of is a bit woo! grin

These stories are appallingly sad. I've had it happen to me and I still don't understand why they do it. Are they even aware of the power they wield?

Stardust123 Thu 28-Mar-13 12:18:10

Hello, not posted for a while, I'm in a difficult situation, without going into full detail, I am having counselling at the moment, as my toxic sister lost her husband 20 months ago and started visiting me even more with her negativity, moans, groans and ailments. Poor me, all about me etc. etc. etc. Very difficult to remain supportive, and I obviously felt an overwhelming sense of responsbility for her. This has sent me into a mess emotionally, I started suffering obsessive thoughts and anxiety which has continued for the past 12 months. Better now, but still suffering with obsessive thoughts. I have tried to cut contact several times, but now I've finally done it and decided I am not going back. She has no friends and wonders why. It's not just a case that she's been bereaved so she feels miserable, she's always been this way. I have never heard her once say that she loves and misses her husband, just that 'I'm all on my own now, life's never gonna get any better attitidue' slagging off everyone who is trying to help her, but also making me feel guilty by sending my kids notes with money saying that she loves them loads. This is the one who was arguing in front of them the other week with her son which upset my daughter then she told my daughter off for texting me. Then said 'well to be honest the sooner I am with my husband the better' in front of my kids. This was the final straw that made me decide I need to get this person out of my life. I think my obsessive thoughts have come from an overwhelming sense of responsbility that I have to look after this person in the absence of her husband (she has health issues) and how I was going to cope with it long term. I hope I can recover and that counselling will help me. It's taking me a while to digest that actually what has happened to me is not my fault, I know it's my thoughts that have done this to me, but hey you can't actually control them and if she wasn't such a toxic personality I wouldn't even feel like this. She has always been very negative and miserable might I add, not just since her husband has died. I have a deep sense of family values but just can't deal with this person. The worrying thing is that my obsessive thoughts are still there, 5 weeks after cutting contact. But I hope I will get through with help. Thanks all.

dothraki Thu 28-Mar-13 12:35:02

Stardust - 5 weeks is notlong. We have been nc for 5 months and things still are painful. You will get thereand there is great support on here. There is also a similar thread running "regale me with amusing tales of something a narc" - itis not amusing its very sad, and lots of people from this thread are on there too. Goodluck x

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 28-Mar-13 14:32:56

Hi Stardust,
Congratulations on your no contact! I don't even know you and I feel relief for you. Your children probably don't mind one bit either, do they? Mine didn't. I am 5 years out and just now feeling done with it.

Excapt I tapered contact. I became full no contact just this past September, realizing that sending her a birthday card was a mistake (with help from counselor), she did not respond.
Counselling helps. I have had two different counselors tell me: "It is not mentally healthy for me to be around her." This has become a mantra for me and I hope it will help you too.

The obsessive thoughts. I read it somewhere as a "thought addiction". Which makes sense as we are the victims (nay, survivors!) of abuse-emotional abuse. There is some mysterious dynamic to keep us in the place of what we are used to as change can be scary. But we are changing for the good of our own self and that is not wrong, from any perspective. And also changing to protect our children from this bad social dynamic (that point helped me greatly-if not for myself, then for the dc). And at some point, I was like, well, just so tired of thinking about it.

You don't owe her anything. Compassion, empathy because she is ill? Well, it is tough, but being ill doesn't change who she is or how she treats you: you still don't owe her anything. If overwhelming guilt has you in there anyway; then how long will it take you to "detox" from the exposure to her? That is telling you to stay away. What will people think? Their thoughts are completely irrelevant, you won't let them live your life.

You are not responsible for her happiness.

And you can control your thoughts. The cliche "think happy thoughts" does actually have some legs. Distract yourself with a pleasant hobby or music.

grin nasty pro plus...I think my toxic sister would use the "5 hour nasty energy".

Stardust123 Thu 28-Mar-13 17:07:25

Thank you all, it helps to read your posts. I know it's not me, it's her as no one really likes her very much, even people she classes as friends (which is only one or two). It's just the obsessive thoughts that are driving me mad, you think that once you get rid of the problem, you will get rid of the thoughts - not so ! Once she lost her husband, I thought that's it I'm stuck with her now, not a good start really, subconsiously I panicked at the thought of the future with her, the years of moaning, groans and ailments. I wouldn't say that she's really a vindictive person, just very negative and miserable, judgemental, biggoted, racist, homophobe! These are the traits that I can't stand. She does have a good side, that's what makes it harder. And she doesn't mean to be the way she is. My aunty says she hasn't got a good word to say about anything or anyone. I felt like I had to cut contact to protect myself from anxiety on the future, but at the moment I don't feel any better which is the very confusing thing. I don't feel a great deal of relief really either. My cousin/aunty can't stand her also, so they understand where I am coming from. Don't think my kids are bothered either way really. One of the traits of anxiety is obsessive thoughts, I really feel like I can't control them, but I am hoping that they subside with the help of counselling. Does anyone know of a good support group for 'anxiety and toxic people' ! ??
Going to try the 'it's not mentally healthy for me to be around her' thought, thank you.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 28-Mar-13 22:00:38

Hi Stardust,
It will take time.
Do you wake up in the middle of the night (3:30-4 am) thinking about it?

One strategy that might help is to make an appointment with yourself to think about it for 30 min (or whatever) once a day, and then that is it for that day. Any time she pops into your thoughts outside of the appointment, you "just say no" and make yourself think of something else (I am fascinated by Google Earth for example) until the next appointment. Say it out loud, 'no sister, I'm not doing that right now'.

Counselling will help. If you are not already seeing a therapist, (I can only say for me that) it is worth every minute and money you spend on it.

There may be an element of guilt in that you feel responsible for "being there for her" but have decided not to be. That was a big one for me.
There may be an element of grief in that you did not get the nice, loving sister you deserve to have, or grief for the end of your relationship with her.

And, you know what? It is ok if you just don't like her. If you wouldn't choose to be around her if she wasn't your sister, why does her being your sister make a difference? It doesn't. Alot of folks may disagree, but being "family" is not a free pass to abuse.

Hang in there. Process the events as they come up in your mind, understand it was not fair, right, civil to be treated like that and you didn't deserve it. Acknowledge to yourself, your feelings that you may have kept hidden to keep the peace: that it hurt! And tell yourself you won't put up with it anymore.

GoodtoBetter Thu 28-Mar-13 22:24:04

My mother has been known to exhibit all but the last 2 on that list.

Stardust123 Fri 29-Mar-13 12:35:09

Hi, yes I think about her 24/7, an offshoot of anxiety ??? Feeling really like a bad person today, trying to cope with anxiety as well as the reality that I've cut her off, feeling guilty, I'm just not a malicious person. I feel all the things that you've mentioned. I do feel very responsible. I wouldn't choose to be around her if she was not my sister. However, we have a fifty year relationship which has not all been bad, so it's very very hard. I didn't sleep hardly for 5 months due to anxiety last year. Am sleeping better now, but she is the first thing on my mind when i wake up and stays that way all day, even when I am working or watching TV, it's always there. I know this is anxiety finding a channel, but it's so hard not trying to analyse your thoughts all the time. Anyone else suffered anxiety regarding a tox person ? Thank you all, it really really helps. !!!!!

Springdiva Fri 29-Mar-13 13:04:02

Have you tried writing stuff down, Stardust?

Ime it stops stuff running through your head all the time. Just write down all your thoughts and feelings, it 'gets it off your chest', though you may have to keep them hidden!

You can't change anyone, remember they can only change themselves, so don't waste time trying.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Fri 29-Mar-13 13:52:46

What Springdiva said does help, Stardust. In fact journaling sort of gave me my wake up call on the dynamic. I filled page after page of examples of sister's superiority plays and power festivals at my expense and even at the expense of others. I realized my journal was all about her (could I not escape her angry ) as the hate poured forth and it shocked me. And then I was afraid that she'd find it, somehow, someday, someway (even though she lives 80 miles away!).

So I CUT the pages out of my rather nice journal and destroyed the pages. The first thing I thought was what a coward I was at the age of (then) 46 to continue to be intimidated by her. May be she should find it and get a f-bomb clue. But then my first counsellor said that journaling, and then destroying the pages was therapeutic.

The idea is that writing it down is a process to get it physically out of yourself- from your brain down your arm through the pen and onto the paper. Now the paper has it and you don't need to worry about that event again. Destroying, (burn or shred -however), it makes it gone forever. It is cathartic.

Also Stardust, you know that when sister finally realizes that you have created boundaries, she may fuss like a toddler throwing a mega-tantrum. But eventually she will simply move on to get her supply from someone else. My sister gave me the silent treatment, hee hee, as if that was going to punish me. Little did she know, that was a win-win situation! wink

Stardust123 Wed 03-Apr-13 19:17:47

Hi all, on holiday this week but would like to thank you all. will come back nxt week for more discussion.

Stardust123 Tue 09-Apr-13 16:47:04

well, back after a weeks holiday, ended up texting my sister 3 days after I went felt really really guilty as it was her deceased husband's 60th birthday, said that I am currently having counselling and would perhaps consider meeting her to look at a way forward. Days later and I am regretting this ! she didn't reply but that's not surprising really. Can anyone recommend a good book about this issue, the dilema I am having is is it me or her ? I am sure if her husband hadn't passed away i wouldn't really have had anxiety issues, it's just the fact that I kinda felt responsible for her and that I had to be the one to listen to all the moans, groans, netagitivty, ailments, slagging off of people for the next 20 years and that she was pushing herself onto me more than she would have done. So my question is, is it me and my thoughts that have gone haywire about not being able to cope or is it her !! Going to counsellor on Tuesday, still having obsessive thoughts, no better than they were . Thanks !

carlywurly Tue 09-Apr-13 21:48:16

I'm sorry, I can't recommend a book but bloody hell, this thread has struck a chord with me. There is so much of this about. I'll come back when I can, but am still in the early stages of figuring my family out. hmm

tangerinefeathers Wed 10-Apr-13 01:27:35

MIL is just cold. She comes across as a lovely slightly fluffy kind of person but she's more than capable of leaving her own children in absolutely dire financial situations, if it would benefit herself. I'm not exaggerating. A while ago she tried to convince DH and myself to enter in to a financial agreement with her that would have let MIL completely off the hook for the bad financial decisions that she's made, and we would have been left footing the bill to the tune of nearly 100k. This woman has worked in the financial industry for most of her working life, I can't believe she wouldn't know exactly what she was doing.

this is my mother too! When I first moved to London she she became obsessed with owning a property there, and as I was working in the UK she could front up a deposit and use my (tiny) salary to get a mortgage. It became an obsession, she found some truly dodgy places and convinced me it was a great idea. In the end the bank basically told me to bugger off as there was no way I could afford the repayments, but if I had been given the mortgage I would have been stuck in a horrible place with my name on it and no escape.

She also dossed in my shared house for ages, which wasn't ideal given other people were living there too, and would think nothing of waking me at all hours if she couldn't sleep, so I would go to work exhausted. When she finally went home again I went straight to therapy!!

tangerinefeathers Wed 10-Apr-13 01:31:54

thebandplayedon my sister has given me the silent treatment for almost a year now, it's so nice. She was always a toxic presence in my life, teaching me to smoke and drink as a 12-year-old, telling me to fail the gifted stream test when I left primary school as I would be in with really boring kids if I passed (I would have passed too, but I failed on purpose which still annoys me!).

So many things she's done. Intrusive, asks really inappropriate questions, and if you ever pull her up you get abused or have to discuss it for hours and hours. She's exhausting. I remember when I was due to have a baby she convinced me to go on a huge walk with her and went on and on about old family crap, stuff to do with our mad mother etc. If I'd gone into labour that night I would have been totally drained. It's as if she tries to drain me. My mother is the same.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Wed 10-Apr-13 02:40:49

Hi Tangerinefeathers, your sister sounds awful. Did she thrive on guiding you to, well, f*ck up? angry on your behalf...and a way good thumbs up on the disconnection. smile

Hi Stardust, I hope you had a lovely holiday. Don't beat yourself up for making contact. Just think of it as a slip up. You wrote previously that you know it is her and not you. It isn't you, it is her. You are cool, she is not. She is awful, you are together. wink

Your sister is an adult. She doesn't need you and you don't need her; she isn't responsible for you and you are not responsible for her. Yes?

You are burned out and used up by her. It is time to step away. Imho, for me anyway, it was like thinking about sister was a habit, a bad habit...then it somehow snowballed into the obsessive addiction thought process. Sisters' actions and interactions with us have been all about them (and it didn't help that with your sister, it was all negative) and that has in a way trained us to, wired us to, brainwashed us to think about them consciously or subconsciously.

I finally came to the point of being tired of thinking about her. (A first step was realizing how much I had been venting to dh and stopped that-he was sick of hearing it.) Then a sort of revelation hit me that I was still making my life about her (even though I had not seen her in years) by continuing to think about her. My life is not about her, my life is about me. That is my new mantra. My life is about me and I need to, and it is ok to, think about me, and not her.

This does take time, Stardust. It is retraining your brain to think differently. After dealing with toxic people for so long, thinking of ourselves, putting ourselves first, is a change of thinking.

Sorry this is so long, hope it can help some.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Wed 10-Apr-13 02:50:09

shock about your mom, too, Tangeringfeathers. So how else can she make use of you ? angry It boggles the mind what people who are supposed to love us, or at least be on the same team, are capable of doing. confused

tangerinefeathers Wed 10-Apr-13 09:04:40

Illness seems to be another theme here. I can barely remember being taken to the doctor as a child, so have a very high pain threshold and lack of awareness about physical discomfort, to the point where I just ignore physical symptoms/cold/damp etc. [Am getting better as married to a major hypochondriac]. I remember our parents were always really bad at picking us up. We'd be the last left at parties, friend's houses etc and left for ages after netball etc even if it was raining. I remember so well that feeling of watching the place empty out (violins...!!). And then the pathetic gratitude when their car would finally appear.

The bad behaviour thing in restaurants is also familiar. We stupidly went out for my birthday. It was half price night but of course I had to buy my own dinner (despite the fact that my parents are worth millions, as my mum is always happy to tell me when I'm upset about not being able to afford a house) and my mother sat there as if she was at a funeral. I have no idea what was wrong with her, but it was like eating dinner in an igloo, the atmosphere was so icy. I was so angry at her for behaving like that.

I am now pregnant and feel as if this anger I carry around is so bad for my little baby. I really hate her at the moment, really really hate her. She's getting a bit senile (I think) and more grandiose, attention seeking. Every conversation gets turned onto her and she will stand there and make you listen to her in great detail about something to do with herself, that always makes her sound like the hero. She tells the same stories again and again and again, it's as if she doesn't care if you've heard them a million times before, she just wants to tell them.

I was told by a therapist that she won't change, I have to feel that feeling I have for my DS and give it to myself, i.e. mother myself. I do try to.

I was lucky to have a grandmother who was maternal, consistent and loving, and thank god I can model my mothering on her. I always make a point of cuddling my son in front of my mother, showering him with love, as she has always told me I'm selfish, hard etc and I think she's jealous of the bond I have with my DS.

She's also just a fucking bitch sometimes. I recently was shortlisted for a prize and I came in with my framed award she said, oh, I was hoping you'd win. And then she rang me the next day and asked loads of questions about how many shortlisted people there were, how many entries etc. It was as if she wanted to pick the whole occasion into little pieces or find a way of feeling superior or something [probably doesn't make sense but it's something my sister did too, alway analysing and picking my achievements to pieces].

I like the simple idea of being allergic to her. I am allergic to her, she makes me tense and on edge just being in the same room as her, it's unbearable. I don't feel that sad about it though, I think because I had my grandmother.

Sorry to waffle. It's very cathartic. It's always been a taboo to slag her off as she presents herself as a living saint. I do wonder though how many people see straight through it and find her as tricky as I do. I love telling on her now (even just online) as I grew up in that classic stifled atmosphere where you never spoke about what really went on at home, her moods, her occasional physical abuse etc.

Stardust123 Wed 10-Apr-13 11:09:02

Hello all, thanks for the comments And The Band Played On. I am struggling, had a horrible holiday, obsessive thoughts all week, I know these thoughts are anxiety related and I know they have come from absolute fear of having to have her in my life and maybe having to care for her when she's older. When her husband died, I just thought that's it, I'm stuck with her now. That has lead to all my anxiety problems. Every day thoughts go round my head every minute of the day all about her, I can't seem to stop, but I am encouraged by people's comments on here. I can't say that my sister is as bad as some as these people, but somethings she has said in the past I can't forget and they keep coming back to me. Like 'well I've never been the favourite daughter have I' and 'when you came along, it was like I didn't exist'. Then she visited my Aunty (My Mom's sister) and asked her why My Mom never liked her! My Mom was an angel, literally, so kind, gentle and lovely. Sadly not with me anymore. x I have to get it through my head that I am not responsible. My greatest fear is having to be her carer in the future, she has lots of ailments (not sure how many are genuine though!), I told her in the past when discussing my anxiety problems that her health problems make me anxious. I think the last few times I saw her, she told me about something that had gone wrong with her health each time! That makes me mad! I am too soft a person, too kind and sympathetic for my own good, I agree I need to change my thought patterns but it's hard, going to see counsellor tonight, see what happens there.
Tangerine feathers, I know what you mean about being in the same room, and repeating stories, that's just like my sister. It's as if every time we meet, we have the same conversation. Nothing in common ! If I say I've had palpitations, she will straight away say 'well i know what that's like' and turns it all round to her. I am going to try and get it in my head that you know what, I am not responsible for her, and I have to get over the guilt. Also, if you broach the subject with other people who know your Mom, you will be amazed, if you see her like that, you can bet that others do - does she have any friends or just aquaintances that put up with her? I am so tired of the whole anxiety thing and I'm sick of thinking about her.

tangerinefeathers Wed 10-Apr-13 11:41:14

Stardust I hope you find ways of alleviating your anxiety, it sounds like it's really creeping up on you.

You won't have to care for your sister if you don't want to. She has a hold over you but you can break that, just by realising that she is manipulating you into taking on all her problems and worrying about her health. You didn't ask to be born after her. Remember when she starts going on about her health you don't have to listen, you can simply say, gosh, you need to go back to your GP and then disengage, get up, break eye contact, whatever. She will eventually get the message that her health is her responsibility. She sounds very selfish and demanding.

As for my mum, she doesn't really have friends, no. My father is her main ally. I have never seen her really laugh with a friend or let her hair down, she's far too controlled. I do wonder now about my grandmother, about how much she took on of our parenting and how she felt about that. My mother wanted to get back to work and my grandmother looked after us every day after school and many weekends too, she basically gave up her retirement to care for us. I now wonder how much she really wanted that or if it was forced upon her.

My mother though gets very jealous if we talk about my grandmother. I was talking about her the other day and my mother started going on about how she cared for my grandmother when she was dying, going into great detail about her final days, as if it was some exciting story with her as the hero, and not a very sad memory. I got out of the car and walked away when she exclaimed 'I was the one to give her the first morphine injection!'. Oh, she's bonkers!

AndTheBandPlayedOn Wed 10-Apr-13 14:54:00

Stardust, you will be stuck with her only if you let your self be stuck with her. I don't mean for that to sound as harsh as it probably came across...but you are a participant in this dynamic and can set your own rules for engagement (even if that is complete disengagement).
It is hard.

Another thought that helps give me strength and strength of justification is related to all the pain she has caused me no matter how much I have numbed it out, ignored it, pretended not to notice, and all the crap she has undoubtedly, I think, told other people about me. She has stabbed me in the heart so many times. STABBED IN THE HEART! That is physically painful to think about, as well as physically feeling it in the moment and succumbing to the training of denying myself the truth of my own feelings. I just can not tolerate being stabbed in the heart anymore. (There is almost some humor in that sentence.) That is the thought that helps me and its corollary is: I am no longer a naturally renewable resource for sister's needs. My heart has been stabbed so many times, it is no longer a naturally renewable resource for her.

Tangerinefeathers- AH AH Chooooooo! Year round allergy season regarding some toxic sources grin.
Congratulations on your award, btw.

Stardust123 Tue 16-Apr-13 20:00:59

How do I get over that niggly feeling that it's me and not them?! Why can other people cope with her and not me, is it because I'm the only sibling !?

Somebody convince me please !!!!!

Had a great weekend with not many obsessive thoughts, I did a toxic personality test for her, and she came over very toxic. Read that we obsess because we are afraid or that we obsess over things that we don't want to happen in our lives - can anyone help me with this.

The obsessing only started when her husband died as I convinced myself I was going to have to put up with her moans, groans and ailments for the next 20 years and look after her in her old age, with no one else to take it on, apart from her son. Because she has been bereaved, it makes it so much harder, feel like a horrid person. I'm not in contact any more, why don't I feel better !!

Fed Up!

WafflyVersatile Tue 16-Apr-13 20:36:42

I've only just seen this thread so not read it all. apols if this has already been covered.

I'm a bit confused why 'you' are a victim of an abusive person, but their husband/wife/whoever is an enabler. Surely they are also victims of an abusive person. Especially as they probably spend more time with them and can escape less easily.

waffly - I hear what you are saying. I think that an 'enabler', is a victim too.

By either keeping quiet, or by encouragement, the enablers are giving the narc carte blanche to behave the way they do, as the narc sees this as an acceptance of their behaviour.

They are too close to the narc to see a way out (maybe via threats by the narc that if the enabler tries to leave, etc etc), so they find the easy option just to go along with what the narcs do, afraid of the consequences. The problem then is the narc continues to pile misery on the family.

Or they know no better in life, always being put down by somebody else, and the option of meeting somebody else who will respect them and offer a normal life, is scary.

It reminds me of that saying, somehow. 'keep your friends close, but your enemies closer'.

That seems to extend to family, sadly sad

Or maybe I'm wrong.

My thoughts below are mainly aimed at my Dad, by the way, the enabler to mum.

Do others see this in the enablers in their family, or is it just my dad ? Bless him.....

BellyChancer Wed 17-Apr-13 16:20:08

Where is the toxic quiz? not that i'm in any doubt. i agree with that paragraph at top of this page, you can make your own rules of engagement too, even if that is with total disengagement.

Stardust123 Wed 17-Apr-13 18:09:38

This was the site I found the toxic quiz on, when I did it last Thursday, I immediately felt relief and realised, hang on, it's not all my fault. Had a really good 2 days after this, when the obsessive thoughts started again. Going to invest more into cutting ties with my toxic person ! Hope this helps folks.
http://www.toxicrelationshipsbook.com/

AndTheBandPlayedOn Wed 17-Apr-13 22:31:06

Stardust,
I'm glad you had a couple of good days.
It is not you, it is her. With one hundred thousand million billion percent metaphysical certitude, it is not you, it is her.

In a box, with a fox, it is not you, it is her. On a train, in the rain, it is not you, it is her.

Another thought that helps me, and this concerns the obsessive invasive thoughts, is that "my life is about me". So, your life is not about your mom, or your dad...your life is not about your sister: your life is about you. That kind of turns the dynamic on its head a little bit in terms that we understand. We are so so tired of our sister's' lives - EVERYTHING being about them and we can say it in those terms. But I have found it helpful to shift the focus off her and onto me where my focus rightfully, healthily, belongs.

Of course, as our lives are about us, their lives are about them. But they take the concept and run with it. They unfurl a huge umbrella where anything in their range is about them too. They choose to do that and we are not part of that decision. We are just the unfortunate souls to be within their "feeding" range. I am glad that you have stepped out of range.

A book I found helpful is called "The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists" available on Amazon.

Stardust123 Thu 18-Apr-13 17:16:48

Thanks AndTheBandPlayedOn, not had a bad day today, feeling a bit more positive so that's good. My life is about me, my kids and husband and no one else, you are right. I will have a look for the book on Amazon. Thanks for the hundred thousand million billion percent! I can be sure it is her and not me! Did anyone take the toxic quiz ?

AndTheBandPlayedOn Thu 18-Apr-13 22:07:56

Hi Stardust,
I had a quick look at the website but couldn't download the quiz on my techno-thing. I'll look at it soon. And perhaps get the book too and give to sister "hey, someone wrote your biography".

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 22-Apr-13 16:17:03

Hi Stardust,
I took the quiz, a la my sister, and the score was 136...not that I needed any validation but it is nice anyway. The only Never answer that I had was the one about generosity...however her "generosity" was purchasing license to have moral authority...strings attached.

How are you doing? I am sewing again (for me wink) a quilt for my dd (for my family smile).

CutMyFringe Mon 22-Apr-13 20:03:56

OK, I've read much of this thread and alarm bells are ringing.

My mother: always critical of gifts, emotionally distant, says things (and always has done), such as 'You don't want to do X, do you?' (thus putting a dampener on anything I might have actually wanted to do; when I did succeed, I'd get, 'I knew it would be easy for you' (dismissing how hard I'd actually tried); if I cocked something up, 'Is that all you got? (grade/salary etc).

She never even asked to come shopping with me when I got engaged and was looking for a dress.

She can bring up references to the part of my family connected to someone who abused me without even realising she is hurting me...

Her coldness used to deeply frustrate and sadden me when I was small; I was insecure and felt rejected. I remember asking her at three if she loved me as she was so full-on with her cousin's kid in a way I never saw her with me.

She asked me why I couldn't be more like friend X when I was about six.

She would never stick up for me if I was in trouble. (I once told her that a boy at school had pulled down my pants and nothing happened; I was five. When a drunk on a bus tried to grope me, she said nothing at all but her friend shouted instead).

She once threatened to kill me when I was cheeky (that was the reason, IIRC) and then would bring it up again and say on occasions: 'you know what I'll do if you don't do what I say, don't you?'

And then she can be very generous, too, helping me out financially. (She does expect big gifts though and will criticise everything I buy, so I only ever get her something she has specifically asked for, as it is so hurtful. I bought her a bottle of wine and cake to thank her for something and she said the wine was acidic and the cake was full of chocolate and kept my dad awake!!)

WTAF? I mean, really??

CutMyFringe Mon 22-Apr-13 22:28:58

To be clear - the incident when I was five, I meant to say that she did nothing about it despite me being terribly upset as it happened outside in school grounds and the boy and his friend were laughing at me. I had wanted to see him told off, or me assured it was not acceptable, or something. She did bugger all.

A therapist once said that it seemed I didn't know my mother at all. I called her an enigma. Perhaps she is simply toxic.

CutMyFringe Mon 22-Apr-13 22:48:54

Oh, and she told me quite casually, when I was 8.5 months pregnant (and poorly with it) that her friend had had a stillbirth at that stage.

Fucking hell.

Stardust123 Fri 26-Apr-13 21:09:12

Hi everyone, I have finally cut contact yesterday with my sister. I realise now how toxic she has been over the years. I called her the other day, all she talked about was herself in that fast, matter of fact tone that she uses. I said, you know what, just forget it, then she put the phone down on me (mature or what !). She would not admit that she has her faults and admitted she won't change. I actually said to her, you need to look up toxic personality on the internet and think about it. I realise you know what I am 43 now and I can do what the hell I want. Can't stand the woman ! I still feel quite raw and anxious, but I hope I can get her out my head asap. Here I am agonising about terminating the relationship, and she's actually not that bothered, which tells me something. Cut My Fringe, it seems clear to me that there's lots of stuff with you going back years and years, go and talk to a counsellor, they really help you deal with any issues. I fear my sisters son will have these issues when he's older. It's funny that its the little things you remember all your life. Get the toxic book by Lillian Glass, I have started reading it this week and it helps. By the way I have 3 brilliant sister-in-laws which are worth ten of her and I intend nurturing those relationships instead. It's so hard when it's a close family member. It seems worse for me, cos I was thinking of cutting contact before she was bereaved, suddenly she was bereaved and I panicked and worried that I was going to have to have her in her life more than i wanted to and be there to listen to every drama, moan, groan, problem etc. etc. , care for her when she's older etc. No wonder I have suffered with anxiety !

sashh Sat 27-Apr-13 11:23:20

oh god yes flippinada!!! I remember my dear mum's tantrum on xmas day cos she did not get enough attention/presents

We used to have presents under the tree, mum opened all hers before Xmas and then had a paddy because she had nothing to open. Apparently we were supposed to buy a second present.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Sat 27-Apr-13 12:44:46

Well done, Stardust!!! Don't look back. You know what is back there and you know you definitely want to give it a miss!

CutMyFringe, crikey what a time you must have had. Look into the books by John Bradshaw, Homecoming, etc. They help with resolving dysfunctional childhood/toxic parent experiences.

Stardust123 Sun 28-Apr-13 18:03:42

Thanks AndTheBandPlayedOn, it has helped so much to read this thread, yeah I definately want to give it all a miss, thanks to everyone who has posted recently. xxx

AndTheBandPlayedOn Sun 28-Apr-13 18:22:39

grin

CutMyFringe Sun 28-Apr-13 19:19:39

Thanks from me too, ATBPO. I'm really struggling with accepting how its been and think 'is that not what happens to everyone?' at times.

I would be horrified to turn out like my mother. I've always aspired, from a young age, not to emulate her.

Stardust - good for you - onwards and upwards!

AndTheBandPlayedOn Sun 28-Apr-13 20:10:23

I am glad that I could help Stardust, and Cutmyfringe.

It is hard for me when I see "normal" people and have constantly be on guard regarding my responses that come from the 'road less travelled' (and not in a good way, iykwim).

I have also found it difficult to let go of the sadness of thinking how my life might have been, had my upbringing checked all the right boxes and none of the wrong ones. That is something that I can not change, however. So it was a part of the loooong string of box cars that I unhooked from my freight train of baggage and left it behind on a very remote and now completely (I hope) unused siding.

Cutmyfringe, you had no choice in accepting it or not as a child. You do as an adult, however, which validates the concept of no contact (people that have not had the experiences we have just don't, and never will, get that).

I, also, did not wish my children to be parented the way I was (I am guessing that is part of you not turning out like her, CMF). I may have made the mistake of going a little too far the other way, in respecting their opinions and choices a little too much as they were growing up. I don't think it is possible to perfectly parent a child, so I have a policy of apologizing if things don't go so well or if I made a mistake or just didn't know in a given circumstance.

dothraki Mon 29-Apr-13 16:07:35

Andtheband - but you are right. I imagine there is no such thing as perfect parenting. I don't even know if you can tell if you've done it right. I would swear blind that I bought mine up the same - but they really are chalk and cheese. They could not be more different. Your awareness is what will make you a good mum.
Apparently mine doesn't understand the whole no contact bit hmm
We have deliberately not seen her since October.
Yesterday she declared to dh that she will never see me again - well thats a fucking relief.
Though she did try a damage limitation excercise - by getting her dh to ring me - so I wouldn't go to the police shock
I think I must have upset her hmm
Maybe that was when I asked her if she knew who her dh was shagging grin
Actually something else upset her - but I will reclaim the moral high ground and not mention that smile

flippinada Mon 29-Apr-13 16:52:44

I am so glad people are still finding this thread useful and coming here for support.

I may need to ask for some myself as I've just had a conversation with my friend which has really upset me. It's not down to her being awful, but more being frustrated and distressed by what she said. Essentially, I suggested she might be happier if she couldn't cut contact with her Mum (long history here). Her response was basically..well. I don't know how to describe it, but it was like something a victim of DV would say sad .

I'm not sure how I can helpfully respond, to be honest.

dothraki Mon 29-Apr-13 17:10:00

flippin - I had the same a few weeks ago sad A friend who is the scapegoat, her db is the golden child. She was telling me her tales of woe, and I said it sounded like her mum was a narc.
This is a highly educated woman. I felt sad as she just carried on ranting about her M. I began to wonder if it was just too late to help her. I said she should go NC - but I think its all so ingrained - that now her dc treat her like shit too. I don't know if I can help her.
She didn't acknowledge my comment. To be fair she is having a really bad time, and every one of her family seem to be against - so maybe she was so busy ranting that she didn't take in what I said.
I think I will try again at a later date

AuntieMaggie Mon 29-Apr-13 17:18:07

Can I ask a question? Even after you've distanced yourself from a toxic person how do you protect yourself from the stuff they say to other people about you especially when its bullshit?

dothraki Mon 29-Apr-13 17:25:00

AuntieMaggie - thats a hard one. Don't know if there is an answer.

flippinada Mon 29-Apr-13 17:41:50

Thanks dothraki

My friend has a history of this. She goes on and on about it but won't do anything. Basically it boils down to, she is terrified of her Mum. And any advice or support is meet with "yes but". Apparently she can't go no contact because her Mum will call the police, stop her seeing her Dad and Gran. So any suggestion is just shot down.

She is physically sick with stress and anxiety, has chronic health problems and suffers with severe insomnia.

She "joked" about it saying at least her mother will be dead in twenty years sad

I'm wondering whether I should say to her I don't want to discuss it any more as it upsets me too much. I know that flubs selfish but I've had (literally) years and years of watching her destroy her health over it and I just don't know what to do to help any more sad

flippinada Mon 29-Apr-13 17:43:10

Sounds selfish, I mean to day.

flippinada Mon 29-Apr-13 17:43:38

Say!! Bloody phone.

SickOfYourShit Mon 29-Apr-13 19:41:37

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

colditz Mon 29-Apr-13 19:59:53

Gosh, you must have put some major stalking effort in to recognise yourself from dothraki's posts, sickofyourshit.

Are the things that she has posted abut you true?

SickOfYourShit Mon 29-Apr-13 20:08:10

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

colditz Mon 29-Apr-13 20:11:41

So why scour the Internet looking for one persons opinion of you?

SickOfYourShit Mon 29-Apr-13 20:14:18

I haven't.
I looked at who was at the sale/Manchester meet up out of interest as to who is local and it was mentioned on there who she was.

Not looked for her at all.
Anyway, just noticed my posts been deleted. Never mind. Think everything was said yesterday that I wanted to say.

But do not mention my children dothraki

flippinada Mon 29-Apr-13 20:28:23

I'm sure I'm not alone in finding this extremely creepy and inappropriate.

OliviaMMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 29-Apr-13 20:37:27

Evening all
Link to our talk guidelines Thanks

anykey Mon 29-Apr-13 20:53:07

Do I read this right????

Sickofyourshit goes round to dothrakis house to speak to her F because she is trying to rebuild a broken relationship with her F.

Then ... when already feeling emotional, is confronted by yourself, who uses the fact that her dh cheated on her to, 'upset' her.

Then.... Let me get this right .... Cause it's the best bit .. You "reclaim the moral high ground"?

You fell out with her over petty things written on here. Yet most of the stuff you write, references her.. I mean, could you be any more hypocritical?

SickOfYourShit Mon 29-Apr-13 20:54:27

Fair enough.
An edited version then?

Please dothraki do not mention my children on mn.

But have a blast and write what you like about me. I really couldn't care less.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 29-Apr-13 22:34:22

AuntieMaggie, Imho,
I think the answer lies in trusting the other people. Allow them to have their own brain and intelligence to make their own decision about the circumstances. If someone is degrading another, especially behind their back, the recipient of that performance could hold it against the messenger for being so uncivil, as it does reflect badly to do that sort of thing.

The toxic one will never see that, though. Just as they don't recognize you as an independent being with your own brain and identity and intelligence, they probably don't/won't offer such respect to others either.
I would guess that other people will have an operational understanding that the toxic one is toxic and not be influenced. If anyone doesn't have the experience, or an opportunity to know the truth, and believes the toxic one, then the loss of your friendship is the price they pay. It may be painful to you, but if they are going to believe the lies, then they weren't really friends to begin with, and you ignore and go on. Rest assured, they will get their turn at being the target for the toxic one.

Work/professional setting is more complex. Maybe someone else can come and advise about whether or not to speak up to the boss/HR about a toxic one's smear campaign against you to defend yourself.

Hth. I have not had this problem as my lovely wink sister lives 80 miles away. Even so, I can state with metaphysical certitude that I do not care what her friends/neighbors/colleagues/dogs think of me.

AuntieMaggie Mon 29-Apr-13 22:51:34

Thanks AndTheBandPlayedOn.

Not work related thank goodness.

One thing has been said recently which isn't true but isn't damaging to what people think of me (I hope!) but its the sort of thing you might say to give someone a heads up if you care about them (but not in this case!)

These are new friends but I hope you're right. Its just so humiliating amongst everything else and I got the impression what they told me was the tip of the iceberg.

I suspect longer term friends probably haven't told me what has been said to them about me so I'm also trying to figure out whether to ask. They would know the latest lie is exactly that as I've always been open about this particular thing.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 29-Apr-13 23:08:00

As tempting as it is, AuntieMaggie, I would resist the urge to bring it up. It would be opening the gates to saying negative things about her to others and that would just be like being in a sort of passing match with her through a proxy.

What did you say when your friend mentioned it?

I think, a rolling of the eyes, with a shaking of the head, looking down, etc and changing the subject would be best. Perhaps a simple sentence like "She'll never change" could cover it. Indifference is the gold standard (and it has no detox/recovery time wink ).

AndTheBandPlayedOn Mon 29-Apr-13 23:10:39

Auto correct should probably stand blush but I meant pissing (not pudding either!) match.

dothraki Tue 30-Apr-13 08:56:52

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SickOfYourShit Tue 30-Apr-13 09:11:35

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Salbertina Tue 30-Apr-13 11:24:20

Guys- can understand you're both angry but you but care enough to come on here and post about it..
Thats better than many including my own difficult family who will not talk..ever and deny there's any cause to do so thus invalidating my need to explain how i feel. hmm

There's never just the one version of the truth, imho, helps to avoid black or white thinking.

Think pming or something else more private better than carrying on in public though.

MissLurkalot Tue 30-Apr-13 11:54:06

Use this in a good way...get it all out in the open, give time for it to settle and then salvage what you can from it.
Good luck and keep the doors of communication open.. x

AuntieMaggie Tue 30-Apr-13 12:52:31

AndTheBandPlayedOn i just said it wasn't true. I try not to say things about her becaus