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What to do about toxic people that you can't just shut out of your life...

(13 Posts)
Feelingoptimistic Sun 07-Jun-09 21:48:06

Right, I know that there are lots of posts about friends/relatives who say upsetting things, etc. and the usual advice is not to put up with it. But what if you have to?

By way of background, I have been separated from my exh for 3 years (he left after a long marriage when DD was only a few months). Anyway, I have an excellent and close relationship with my MIL, who has always been a source of support to me. However, MIL and FIL also divorced, and FIL has a partner who I have always felt didn't really like me. I never spent much time with this woman, and always tried to be friendly with her. But they don't live in the UK, so recently they stayed with me and DD for two weeks, as part of a two month trip to the UK. And during the two weeks this woman said and did so many things to upset me and make me feel horrid, but all in a very subtle way. I used to think that she actually meant well but was just a bit stupid, but now I think she actually means to be horrible. FIL is very nice, and I get on with him really well, and obviously want him to be a part of DD's life, so I can't just refuse to have anything to do with this woman. Examples of things she has said/done:

- constantly pointing out other women and saying thigs like "that woman looks so lovely in that dress, why don't you dress like that, you would look nice?"
- I have had problems with my hair thinning since having DD - I am very sensitive about it as you can imagine - I didn't ask for her advice, but she bought me some shampoo for thinning hair !!!
- constantly going on about how wonderful exh is, which is not very considerate, given that he caused me a huge amount of pain when he left;
- both me and exh are lawyers, but he is now a partner, and she was asking why I have not been promoted like him ! Really hurtful because I think I have done pretty well keeping my job and looking after dd all by myself while nearly having a nervous breakdown.

Anyway, you get the picture. AIBU to feel upset?

SillyDaisy Sun 07-Jun-09 21:50:19

yanbu.

she sounds like a sly one.

AnyFucker Sun 07-Jun-09 21:53:44

yanbu

and I want to give you a huuuuge hug

what a fucking toxic cow

take my advice, cut her outta your life, she will only try to make you feel like shit

and you can stop that

shockers Sun 07-Jun-09 22:06:39

My SIL is a bit like that... I once managed to avoid her for 2 years but then realised how much I was hurting DH. I try to see her lack of tact as her problem and I don't get as upset ( and I don't spend too much time with her)

Feelingoptimistic Sun 07-Jun-09 22:11:14

SD - I think you are right. She is sly.
AF - thanks for the hug ! I think you responded to one of my other posts a few months ago, and made me feel so much better. You would make such a good friend in RL.

I think I need to stand up for myself a bit more next time. Just not sure how... Fortunately exh does not like her either.

She is no longer at my place but still in the UK, and today she gave DD a pink raincoat. OK, I may be paranoid, but she had seen DD wearing a grey raincoat (which I think looks very fetching with her red wellies !) and so I took this as criticism of the way I dress DD... I am probably completely wrong about this, but I think people like that can make you feel paranoid.

AnyFucker Sun 07-Jun-09 22:20:25

aww, FO, what a nice thing to say smile

yes, people like this can make you feel bad

which is why you keep them out of your life, or atleast to an absolute minimum

next time they suggest staying with you, make an excuse

you have the builders in, an outbreak of swine flu, you have bedbugs, an infestation of cockroaches, whateverrrr....

then stick to your guns

meet them for a meal, but do that only

and you have to leave early to get the dc to bed

if you are inventive, you can fob them off until the level of their input is what you feel comfortable with

put the pink raincoat on Ebay

grey sounds great, its a fab statement, pink is soooooo common wink

it is ok to feel paranoid, it is a defence mechanism against esteem-sapping fuckwits like this, keep your defences up

you just have to feel sorry for them really.....

HerBeatitudeLittleBella Sun 07-Jun-09 22:23:20

I think you need to be v. straight with her.

"constantly pointing out other women and saying thigs like "that woman looks so lovely in that dress, why don't you dress like that, you would look nice?"

"Thank you for your interest, but I prefer a more classic/ less boring/ less vulgar / more interesting look". And then when you see anyone wearing anything at all, go right back at her - "why don't you wear that, you'd look nice."

- I have had problems with my hair thinning since having DD - I am very sensitive about it as you can imagine - I didn't ask for her advice, but she bought me some shampoo for thinning hair !!! Gush and look delighted. "Thank you so much, how kind and thoughtful of you!" Be delighted by how considerate and lovely she is, and she'll be well pissed off.

- constantly going on about how wonderful exh is, which is not very considerate, given that he caused me a huge amount of pain when he left; "mmm. Yes I have a friend like that, she's blah blah blah." Make it v. clear that you're not interested in talking about XH.

- both me and exh are lawyers, but he is now a partner, and she was asking why I have not been promoted like him ! Really hurtful because I think I have done pretty well keeping my job and looking after dd all by myself while nearly having a nervous breakdown.
"I haven't been promoted like him because I have been looking after his child. I'm surprised that's not quite obvious, actually".

Square up to the bitch. Accept that she's your enemy and treat her accordingly.

Feelingoptimistic Sun 07-Jun-09 22:25:19

Thanks AF, you are so right !!
Actually, I do feel sorry for her, but as you say, that's no reason to allow her to trod on the bit of self eseteem I have left.
Right, will put that behind me, and make my excuses in the future.

Feelingoptimistic Sun 07-Jun-09 22:29:17

LittleBella - that's what I am going to do in the future. I think before I really wanted to believe that she meant well but just lacking in tact/emotional intelligence, etc. and so I wanted to be nice.
Now that I have decided she is NOT nice, I will respond appropriately.

Nighbynight Sun 07-Jun-09 22:48:41

I agree with LittleBella - striking back is the only way to deal with people like that. If she knows she is going to get a snub, I bet she'll stop her snidey remarks.

AnyFucker Sun 07-Jun-09 23:22:51

yep, now you have clocked she is a bee-yatch (and not just thick)

respond in kind

littlebella had some good 'uns grin

saggyjuju Mon 08-Jun-09 11:25:48

unless she has an army of people constantly with her airbrushing away any imperfections she has (if she does could you forward their number to me ,thanx awfullysmile) forget your politeness and go for the kill so to speek,every flaw highlight tactfully just like she does of course!! sorry this isnt what i have ever done,and have had it done to me,but i am sick of reading about rotting people who seem to come up smelling of roses even though they are full of shitty shite angry

NooNoo5 Tue 09-Jun-09 18:09:41

My MIL used to TRY (being the operative word). DH is an only one and god do I know
it. In her eyes, his career is so well respected and I should do everything I can to support him. I'm the one that has to do all the comprimising in every strand of home/work life in her implied opinion. Anything I've achieved in life goes unnoticed, apart from having her Grandson. When he was born she made a point of telling me that it's good to be a SAHM (cos she did it!) now he's at school all I get now is "when are you thinking of going back to work, poor ds is working very hard". "Are there no p/t secretarial jobs at the school"!!! (it feels like I'm now surplus to requirements, Max at school so get out and start contributing again you lazy so and so). Please don't get me wrong about sec jobs but before DS came along I was a senior HR Manager in a male dominated orgn with more quals than her DS and equal earning power. Makes
my blood boil. She bad for my blood pressure!

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