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Horrible negative comments from family

(56 Posts)
TwoFourSixOhOne Wed 08-May-13 08:12:56

I've namechanged but some of you may recognise some of this as it's nothing new. I just need to get it out and get some advice or even just some hairstroking because it's making me feel utterly wretched.

My mother and my sister seem to think they can just say anything they like to me, and they seem to rejoice in saying the most awful things.

What's kicked it off today for me is that I was away seeing friends this weekend, my mum phoned last night and did a 'how are the poor children' concerned question, I said, 'they're fine, had a lovely weekend with DH, did lots of fun stuff, I had a lovely weekend too, thanks for asking, it's a shame my friends live so far away and I can't see them more often'.

My mum repiled with, 'yes, you can't just abandon your family like that for a whole weekend again, especially on a Bank Holiday. It's not fair on anybody'.


She was then really dismissive of anything else I said, just kept repeating that it was a terrible thing to have done, and I got off the phone and just cried.

I am around my children pretty much 24/7, by the way, I work from home and rarely have nights out (maybe three times a year). Not that I shoudl need to justify it, of course, but it was such an unfair and spiteful thing to say.

I was given a gift while I was away, something very beautiful and personal that my incredibly talented friend had made for me, and my sister phoned to tell me she didn't like it. Nothing else, just 'I saw the photo of it on FB and I have to say I really dont' like it'.

Well, no, you dont' 'have to say' that at all. No one has to say they dont' like something. I defended it, and myself, but then again got off the phone and just sobbed.

It's fairly constant. 'Your wallpaper's peeling there', 'Ooooh that's a hideous spot', 'Have you lost weight, you look really gaunt', 'You've put weight on, you need to diet'.

Then there's the more things like how I parent, or it's no surprise DD has the issues she has, or 'funny' jokes about my house being a candidate for How Clean Is Your House.

Whenever I decorate or move furniture around or put up a new picture, they come to my house and slag it off. It's like a complusion. When I decorated my bathroom my mum SNORTED at me and said, 'what's the point, you won't keep it tidy'. My house is fine and normal by the way, both Mum and sister live in minimalist white boxes.

I would never say anything negative to either of them. My sister is actually quite needy in that respect and takes criticism terribly: my mum once mentioned that she looked a bit porky and she went on a crash diet and lost two stone straight away. Mum never usually makes digs like that to her, it was a one off and she hasn't repeated it.

My mum has an awful relationship with her Dad, and is always telling me about the horrible digs and nasty things he says, she just doesn't seem to make the connection between that and how she treats me.

Any time I've brought any of this up, it's laughed off. I'm accused of beingt oversensitive and that they 'only say things out of concern' or that 'Oh it's just what I'm like, ignore me'.

I am just completely out of energy for it. I don't know how to process what they say, because it DOES get to me, and I do take it to heart despite knowing I shouldn't.

Cutting them out is not an option, they both live a few doors away and
the benefits of having them in our lives still, just, outweigh the nasty digs. But I am exhausted and so sad.

Thanks for reading, I know this is a bit epic.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 08-May-13 08:18:12

You need to harden your shell and think of a few withering put-downs. My best friend has a mine of them and I use them frequently. smile

My favourite one is 'did you just come round/call me/text me to have a go about my weight/decor/social life or was there some other reason?'

If they 'only say it out of concern'..... 'do us all a favour and keep your concerns to yourself in future'

If its 'just what I'm like, ignore me'.... 'don't worry, that's my default response to the rubbish you come out with'

Be prepared. Get nastier. Dig back. Enjoy the ride!!!

DeckSwabber Wed 08-May-13 08:20:13

How horrible for you. I'd be upset too.

Have you tried challenging them at all?

SparklyVampire Wed 08-May-13 08:21:48

I think you need to learn to ignore. You can't change others or how they speak to you, but you can change the way you react to it. My mum was similar, when I told her I had bought my wedding dress the only question was, what size is it? ...oh you will never fit into that hmm
Anything negative now is met with " that's a shame nevermind " repeated like a broken record, she is a lot better now she thinks I don't give a shit.
Have you thought about councilling or even an assertiveness course to help you deal with it?.

musickeepsmesane Wed 08-May-13 08:24:12

[tea] flowers You need to go on the attack. Give them a taste of their own medicine. As well as using all the responses Cogito says. If you are lucky they will start to leave you alone. I would start by slagging of their white boxes and take it from there. Breeze in for a cuppa, take a jumper out of your back "It is always so cold and soulless in here"......etc

musickeepsmesane Wed 08-May-13 08:24:35

bag - not back

Ragwort Wed 08-May-13 08:27:10

Agree with Sparkly - you won't be able to change how they speak to you, so you will need to change how you deal with their comments, what about makin 'jokey' comments back? Ie: when she mentioned you shouldn't go away for a bank holiday w/e, say something like 'I had a great time, next time it will be a whole week' and then change the subject. As Sparkley says, they may stop commenting once they realise you aren't reacting in the way they hope.

BlissfullyIgnorant Wed 08-May-13 08:36:12

To add to Cogito, you could also end the convo by saying "Anyway, I HAVE to say I've decided you shouldn't come here any more because you really don't like my home, my taste in clothes/music/decor/anything or my company. Oh, and by the way, DH is OUR children's father, not a live in babysitter and he can have them to himself for a weekend any time he wants." Turn it around and start laughing at them - in front of them.

I have a MIL and an ex-mother, both of whom are similarly quite nasty in their own ways so I have every sympathy for you! Here's your mantra: 'I don't need your shit.'

The ex-mother is not dead - I cut her out if my life because of the way she treated me and because of the detrimental effect she had on my marriage and my relationship with my newborn DD. She was the first person EVER to slap DS and actively encouraged us to do it too hmm he was 2.

Machli Wed 08-May-13 08:36:41

Mum: "You really shouldn't have gone away like that"

You "what?! Ha ha ha, don't be so ridiculous, ha ha ha!

Sister: "I have to say I don't like it"

You: "why does not surprise me? <<smirk>> refuse to elaborate, leave her thinking its her own questionable taste that's the issue.

Them: you need to lose/put on weight.

You: <<bored tone>> "no I do not. Cup of tea?"

Them: you house is a mess.

You <<bored tone>> "no it isn't"

Do you see? They sound thoroughly awful. Me? I'd restrict contact with them. Nasty pieces of work. You need to get harder though. Don't even need to be nasty. Just lots of bored or firm don't be ridiculous responses.

Headagainstwall Wed 08-May-13 11:35:47

I have a sister that does this. Me & my husband make a joke of it now. Before she comes round we guess which thing in our house she'll slag off and we take bets. It means I'm delighted when she criticises my cutlery/rugs/new anything as I guessed it. DH is rubbish at the game tho occasionally gets the odd thing grin

I think you just have to not care. Hard, I know. But you've challenged it and got nowhere.

TheNorthWitch Wed 08-May-13 12:24:09

If you don't want to cut them out of your life altogether then you need to emotionally disengage. Do not defend yourself as then they know they've wound you up - take a leaf out of the teenager's book and learn MEH or WHATEVER - accompanied with a dismissive shrug - maddening smile

Alternatively you can say 'that's just your opinion' then shrug and smile.

Basically IGNORE IGNORE IGNORE - they will stop when you don't react. It helps to challenge them in your head with a phrase like 'this is rubbish' whenever the nastiness starts. That stops you giving any value to their words - it takes practice but you can learn to let their negative comments just roll off you like water from a duck's back.

Charbon Wed 08-May-13 12:38:24

All of the advice about your interactions with your mother and sister is very sound, but I'm interested in the effect it has had on you and your own attitudes to women.

What you're describing are women who fundamentally dislike other women and find any opportunity to criticise them. If you've grown up in that environment and are in such close proximity to women who think like that, how have you protected yourself from those influences?

Are you self-aware enough to check some of your own attitudes towards other women when you find yourself competing or finding fault?

It's almost impossible for some of this not to have rubbed off on you in some way and it's a very common family dynamic between mothers and female siblings. The women who cope best with it are those who realise the potential for similar outlooks and behaviour in themselves and to constantly check their thinking and attitudes.

Have a good think about this. Your knee-jerk response might be to brush this off and point out that you have good friendships with other women, but it's unusual when there is a default set like this in childhood for it not to have had an effect on your own attitudes and this is actually the only thing you can control yourself, along with your responses to your mother and sister.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 08-May-13 13:01:14

Fight fire with fire if you can't ignore or laugh it off.

What advantages of living so close outweigh them being obnoxious? Is this a life-long routine or fairly recent, what if they turn on DD as she grows up?

How does DH regard this carry-on, presumably he agreed to live in such close proximity to please you?

TwoFourSixOhOne Wed 08-May-13 13:28:01

I'll come back to your lovely posts in a minute, thank you. I woudl just like some persepctive on this latest development and how it's made me feel, if that's ok?

Briefly, I am a childminder and look after my nieces, this has been generally lovely but not without its issues as obviously my sister can be highly critical of me. I've recently applied for other jobs and am now through to the final interview stages.

My other sister (who I get on very well with) is registering as a CM and we worked out my future finances based on her looking after DS2 (toddler), she also said she woudl happily take over with my nieces, all at the same reduced rate I have looked after DNs for.

Other sister came round this morning and said she was worried about looking after all the children, over the weekend Mum and sister have obviously hammered home that it's too much for her, I thought she was just wobbling and we were looking for solutions (preschool hours, different days etc).

Then my sister phoned at lunchtime to say 'they' (her, mum, other sister) had decided I needed to use a different Cm as she needed to use our sister and having all three DC woudl be too much for her. Yet again I'm afraid to say I burst into tears, this time on the phone.

I am always ALWAYS the one to be cast aside, the one who doesn't matter, the one who can sort herself out.

I've actually vomited because I feel so sick and shaky, this changes everything with my new job and probably makes it unviable (I will be on a training wage for a few months at least). My sister earns 40k, she doesn't 'need' family help, and she has had the benefit of it for the past three years, I suppose I just thought it was my turn. How stupid was I?

Charbon, your points are very interesting and the truth is I don't know. I am my own worst critic and I think I'm a good friend to my friends, I'm certainly always very positive and complimentary with them, and I don't really engage in competitiveness, at least not so I realise.

TwoFourSixOhOne Wed 08-May-13 13:29:42

I did say to my sister, 'why do I have to find another CM, why is that the default? Why can't you?' and she said 'because I want to use Dsis'.

BlueberryHill Wed 08-May-13 13:29:53

It sounds awful, I bet your mother and sister don't have many female friends, and the ones they do, they will always be bitching with.

Agree with everyone else and change your response to it, treat it as a game. I love Headagainstawall's suggestion and I may use that in the future.

I deal with these type of comments by imagining that I'm playing baseball and every snide comment that comes my way I hit it for six out of the stadium, I have a comeback for each comment even if it isn't that smart but I don't let them get one over on me. It helps my mindset (comments are from SIL) in that I don't feel like a victim when I meet her, it has helped the relationship, I don't get as many shit comments as I used to.

Walkacrossthesand Wed 08-May-13 13:34:30

Twofour, can you lean very heavily on the sis you get on with, tell her that your job depends on her looking after DC at reduced rate, and ask her to put you first for a change? As it stands, your other sis' want is trumping yours, and by the sound of it, she can afford a non-family CM and you can't. It's 'nice sis' that you need on side here - will she stand by you?

BlueberryHill Wed 08-May-13 13:36:15

They sound like bullies who are used to controlling your and your other sister, I don't know how to deal this with but I think that you saying. "Why do I need to find another CM?" Is a good start, talk to the nice sister and try to talk her round, look at other CM. If you are on a training wage at first, look at what happens after the first few months, do the calcs based on that.

Try to become dependant on your family for help, even paid CM as they are using it to control you.

Don't let them stop you doing your chosen career, in the long run it will be better for you. How old are your children, will they benefit from the 15 hours in the future?

BlueberryHill Wed 08-May-13 13:37:02

Oops, should be a NOT in the sentence about being dependant on your family.

MTSCostcoChickenFan Wed 08-May-13 13:37:30

I have an aunt like that. 2 minutes in I would just 'wake up' from my revelry and go "what was that? I was just thinking what to cook for dinner". Or I would just laugh when she was mid sentence. "Sorry, I just thought of something funny. What was that you was saying?"

It didn't make the problem (or the aunt) go away but instead of coming away steaming I had the happy consolation of having made fun of my aunt.

Lottapianos Wed 08-May-13 13:38:52

Loads of sympathy for you OP. Sounds very much like my family. Lots of judging, ridiculing, negativity, put downs, being told I'm 'too sensitive' and that I should just 'ignore' things. It's infuriating and really upsetting. It really does sound like this is 100% their problem and not yours. How would you feel if a friend told you that their mum or sister was treating them in this way? I find it easier to be kind to other people than myself sometimes and it helps to externalise it!

I can also relate to your feelings of always being the one to have to give in, and your physical reactions of feeling tearful, sick and shaky. This is horribly hurtful stuff and I would imagine it makes you feel extremely angry but unsure of what to do with those feelings. You are entitled to feel upset, there is no 'right' way to feel about this.

I do agree with other posters who suggested disengaging from them emotionally. The problem is that these are close family members, not noisy neighbours, so disengaging takes a huge amount of energy and time. Would you consider visiting a counsellor or therapist? I see a therapist weekly and it's incredibly painful but it's helping me so much to get to the root of the problems with my family and to stop blaming myself.

I'm sorry you're going through this - keep posting smile

TwoFourSixOhOne Wed 08-May-13 13:39:27

I think so, maybe. But I don't know if I want to put pressure on her, because she will no doubt get pressure from our other sister too and that will be horrible.

I'm tending to think 'fuck em' and we'll just scrape by for a few months and get in debt.

I need to talk to DH when he gets in. I feel a bit like the rug has been pulled from under me at the moment.

Oh, the other added snippet was that they all think I lied about the trains this weekend in order to stay away another night, I came back monday instead of Sunday as originally planned because the journey time was halved from eight hours to four. Apparently that's a lie as 'everyone knows trains run the same on a bank holiday Monday as they do on a Sunday'. No one bothered getting their facts right, they all just assumed I lied to get an extra day of jollying. For fuck's sake.

TwoFourSixOhOne Wed 08-May-13 13:41:06

Lots of x-posts. smile

Thank you so much for all your posts, it really helps just to talk it through, DH is brilliant at this but he's at work.

BlueberryHill Wed 08-May-13 13:42:27

To which the response is, "Yes, you found me out, good wheeze whilst it lasted". Don't let them get to you, what they think is worth shit, don't give it headroom.

They are pulling you around emotionally.

BlueberryHill Wed 08-May-13 13:43:57

Oh and "fuck 'em", is the right response every time.

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