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How do you tolerate toxic people when you can’t escape them?

(20 Posts)
BluTacked Sat 29-Nov-14 21:30:49

I apologise for not being the anticipated demographic of this forum as a single childless student of 21 but I decided this would be a good place to post as he won’t look here for forum posts.

DB is 23 years old and has always seemed to have undiagnosed mental health problems and an abrasive personality from a young age. Panic attacks, unexplained rages and dabbles with mania and psychosis. DB and I come from an unstable family with a now deceased DF that was also mentally unstable in a similar manner and was abusive towards DM. DF has siblings with diagnosed personality disorders and are also unhinged in the same manner as DB. DM has severe bipolar involving frequent sectionings, previous suicide attempts and self-medication with alcohol.

After DF died when DB was 14, he became abusive towards both of us and frequently tantrummed and acted violent when he didn’t get his own way. Whenever DM left the house to do something like buy another bottle of wine, DB used to slap me until I turned red all over and revelled with a demonic smile whenever he got to bully or abuse me. Every single day, he enjoyed tormenting me with verbal abuse and well as gaslighting or controlling me. He’d act like a surrogate father such as unplugging the internet because I had too many baths per week or rip food out of my hands because I ate too much. Social services got involved when I was 14 because people saw bruises on me in the P.E changing rooms as well me telling teachers about it. After one visit from the student social worker, DM was told to drink less and DB was told not to hit me. Within twenty minutes of leaving, DM walked to the newsagent for a bottle of wine and DB started to slap me again.

I was suicidal and depressed the entire time as I was also dealing with school bullying and couldn’t even lock myself in my room because he’d still burst in to torment me. All the meanwhile DM would just stew in a drunken stupor with Olanzapine and white wine in her armchair.

After a while, the physical abuse subsided but the emotional, verbal and psychological abuse continued. He still insulted me every single day and teased me for being an ‘autistic spastic’ following my previous SENCO involvement for emotional and behavioural difficulties as well as dyspraxia. He’d still enjoy causing arguments for no reason and controlling me in an irrational manner but I was counting down the days before he went to university.

He went to university and did not massively enjoy it. He had a nervous breakdown after a girl rejected him in his second year and all at the same time I was doing my final A-Level exams and DM was sectioned. I had to spend my EMA and savings for university on looking after him and mollycoddle his anxiety.

All the while, DM was in psychosis and sending threatening texts to me and DF’s family including two aunts that were at that time heavily involved in our life. DM was disowned by DF’s family which might not seem important but they were exceptionally wealthy and donated money while she was on DLA and widow’s pension. I went to medical school and had an ambivalent relationship with my mother and spoke with DF’s family more. They supported me in my first year of university but the money quickly dried up when DB fell out of them in his first psychotic episode (mania).

He also sent insulting texts and was quickly disowned. I was disowned because I gave him money so he wouldn’t have to go to a food bank. However, I never exactly confronted them like he did. I just stopped speaking to them as they also mistreated me in the past, and I want to cut out anybody toxic in my life.

Unfortunately, he is toxic as well. I wish DB was a civil human being but with my armchair psychiatry and my eight week block in mental health, I’d happily give him a diagnosis of bipolar and NPD. With a differential diagnosis of being a complete cunt.

Luckily for me, I managed to avoid him but he has gotten particularly bad after failing a postgraduate qualification for a very competitive field. I just came home to visit this weekend and he caused a huge argument out of nowhere about me refusing to insult DF’s family over texts and facebook. He got even more annoyed when DM took my side in the argument and he stormed off. Now a day later, when he promised to pay for a birthday trip to a curry house, he has refused to take us and won’t speak to his “fat cunt of a sister” until Christmas. He threw a glass of lemonade at me and stormed off. I tried to placate him (as DM and I always have to to keep the house quiet) but he told me in no uncertain terms to fuck off.

My poor DM has to tolerate his behaviour year around. He loves to cause arguments and insult people close to him. He has to control everything and insults well-crafted dinners made by DM. If the potatoes turned out differently, he’ll insult her cooking skills or throw it in the bin. He demands that for £140 board a month that she makes him all his meals, packed lunches and does all his laundry and puts it in his drawers. We also have to massage his ego and any criticism of him turns into a bloody war.

I’m not looking forward for Christmas nor the summer when I have to return home because I can’t afford to move out. I tried in first year with disastrous results. I had to get in payday loan debt to avoid him. The university won’t help me and part-time work is impossible when I have to move every four months and work 9-5 in wards.

How do you tolerate toxic people when you can’t escape them?

SnowSpot Sat 29-Nov-14 21:39:58

I don't think you can ever 'tolerate' your DB. He sounds like an intractably nasty individual.

What I find strange is how your DM copes with him, and why does she cope with him. He is a grown adult living as, pretty much, a guest in his mother's house. Why does she allow him to behave that way? Why does your 'poor mum' allow him to abuse you in such a way?

The reason I'm being hard on her is that I put up with a toxic SF for decades to pacify my 'poor mum'. It was only on having a final straw moment with him after years of abuse that I realised that my mum was part of the problem for putting us all in the position of having to tolerate a bully.

I think that you can't ignore this man. He is a bully and will continue to bully you as long as you don't have choices. Your mum could choose to provide you with a safe place for you to come home to, or you may have to be more creative with your holidays (no suggestions there, sorry, it sounds like it will be tricky).

I was driven to the bring of a breakdown by my bully and the best thing I ever did was finally realise I didn't have to 'go home' and put up with abuse. Please learn that lesson quicker than I did.

Hugs and support and hope you find a solution.

Bogeyface Sat 29-Nov-14 21:51:37

For goodness sake, whatever you do DO NOT give up your studies, they are the key to your freedom. You have done fantastically well to get to medical school and I suspect that part of his anger is jealousy.

Is there really no way you can stay away? Where in the country are you? The rent-a-room scheme can be very affordable and in terms of the cost to your mental health of going back there, would be a positive bargain.

Your mother is choosing to live like this, I wonder if its because having such a difficult home life is her excuse for drinking and if she kicked him out she would have no such excuse (or £140 to spunk on wine). You can choose differently.

You have already come through so much and done so well, I am sure with some creative thinking and some positive action you can deal with this as well.

STOP FEELING GUILTY. They have made their choices, you need to make yours based on what is best for you.

SnowSpot Sat 29-Nov-14 21:58:16

\just to check the 'moving every 4 months' part… what kind of rotation are you on? That seems pretty excessive. I thought that you were based in one medical school/university, so you'd still have your room free if so needed during the holidays? (Obviously I could be well off base with that one.)

And agree with Bogeyface (good name), you mustn't give up your studies. But equally, stop enabling your DB. I, personally, would try and build bridges with the family who were of actual support to you. I don't understand why they would punish you for trying to be nice to your brother. (I guess it's hard to get the whole story down without it being 8 pages long).

Hatespiders Sat 29-Nov-14 22:03:53

There must be a Student Welfare type of arrangement at your Uni. Isn't there anyone on that side of things that you could go and see, explaining your very difficult situation with the view to helping you find suitable accommodation and support? Your studies must come first and in order to complete them successfully you should have a stable and peaceful place to stay. Have you got a Director of Studies? Or a Tutor who could put you on the right path for getting help? (Forgive me if my ideas are hopelessly out of date as I was at Uni in the early sixties!) I think you should detach yourself from your brother, and indeed your mum, for now, and concentrate on qualifying and passing your exams etc.

ArtVandelay Sat 29-Nov-14 22:09:16

Oh love, no good advice but just tons of respect for what you are coping with and acheiving. You are so young - you have many amazing times to look forward to. There will be a time when all this will be behind you, i promise you. I had a very difficult situation growing up and honestly you can put it behind you. Be proud of yourself, you sound outstanding x

HumblePieMonster Sat 29-Nov-14 22:39:05

My goodness, you've had (and are having) it hard. Student Services/Welfare might be the way to go, explain your circumstances and see what might be available. You need to finish your studies but you also need to be out of the home environment. You must distance yourself from him and from your mum somehow.

BlackeyedSusan Sat 29-Nov-14 23:01:41

you could also try womens aid. just becasue he is not your partner/husband does not make it any less dv. they could give you advice on where togo and what to do.

Meerka Sat 29-Nov-14 23:43:27

Your university should help you.

If you explain you can't go home becuase of domestic violence and other abuse, they can hopefully re-house you in a different Halls where you can stay over the holidays.

I was unable to go 'home' when I was at uni and they made sure I was in a Halls where a number of students in a similar boat didnt have to vacate and could live year round.

Failing that I think you need to find lodgings or a house share. It will up your debt but your home situation is intolerable. The strain on you is far more intense than you perhaps even realise when you're going through it.

Given that this has been going on for some very formative years, it would also be a very, very good idea to speak to Student Counselling. Bugger pride, if you're worried about that. This is the time to make sure you limit the long term damage and that's what they're there for.

DysfunctionalVagabond Sun 22-Jan-17 00:29:20

Sorry for resurrecting my own zombie thread but wanted to vent for a moment. Also, might have lost my old account's name. -insert trigger warning-

Let's just say I've had a particularly bad few years. My advice for dealing with a dysfunctional abusive home is to leg it, something I've only just had the strength to do this week. I was sort of forced to anyway.

DB is as nuts as ever, still every conversation focused on how he is failing at life and DM is still languishing in now red wine, as white gives her indigestion.

Also, more advice. If you ever for the love of God get raped, do not go for support from your dysfunctional family. It happened over a year ago and I came back in Christmas '15, on a verge of a nervous breakdown and jumpy with PTSD. I remember distinctly DB saying such beautiful sentences like, "I don't care if you got raped, this [him being recently sacked] is more important" and "I don't believe you got raped because you didn't tell me straight away [and any other idiotic rape myths]" My DM said nothing. I was told that "you've learnt your lesson to be less of a slut now". Just, as the token rational person in my family, I just can't deal with it. I'm even face-palming right now.

He recently this Christmas brought up my rape as an emotional weapon when I refused to stroke his ego for longer than an hour. It's not the first or last time he's done this. "You've learnt not to be a slut anymore, haven't you?" "If you were more careful..." JUST ARGH!

Turns out, I've got depression and PTSD. It's no surprise. I was given no time to heal or even discuss with my own flesh and blood about what happened. Fucking acquaintances dealt with the fallout with finesse and care. I grinned and bared the worst of it and passed last year's exams barely.

Now, I'm having to take time out of my degree and repeat a whole year and battle for the intensive psychotherapy I need because the university counsellor says I'm too fucked up to be in their own remit to help. I need a year at least of therapy, not six sessions. Every professional I have seen (occupational health, GP, student support services) has demanded that I should not return home for my sanity, even if it reduces me to bankruptcy. I spent my life being the victim of domestic abuse with my DM minimising my needs or wants.

Every time my DM or DB message me, I bubble with fear and anxiety. I finally realise why I get goosebumps every time DB touches me, he scares the fucking shit out of me.

So here I am at 23, with enough baggage to fill Heathrow airport and just irrationally furious about the hand I've been given in life. Thrown from pillar to post, having to dance maniacally to get any money or help. The crumbling NHS, my old friend, is making my life even more difficult because I can't see a GP soon enough to get a sick note I need. I'm just very grateful that I have a lot of good supportive friends and I have found a place to live away from home. It's so damn liberating to escape that viper nest.

Only advice I need to ask though, should I stay in contact or go NC with my DM and DB? Also, I am well aware that I need professional help but will be unable to access it for months at least. Is there any well-written articles online I can access in the meanwhile? I've got the spare time to read right now wink

jeaux90 Sun 22-Jan-17 00:42:16

Darling you need to go nc. Sorry but this is the only way. I left my narcissistic partner 6 years ago and never looked back.

I am so sorry about your rape, truly awful, all of your problems apart from that stem from your toxic family. You need to cut them off if you stand a chance at healing and getting on with your life xxxx

schlong Sun 22-Jan-17 10:36:35

Do you really need to ask?? You should've gone NC aeons ago. It will be a liberation.

knaffedoff Sun 22-Jan-17 10:53:46

Ok if you go nc, it will be hard, you will experience feelings akin to grief. My sibling used threats of nc with me for decades as a form of control. We have been nc now for years, but life is more peaceful and harmonious as a result. I wished we had been nc in our 20's and before children became involved. Your brother sounds quite unwell and families need to change,otherwise patterns form and difficult to change. It could be your brothers personality or simply his illness, but it may never change and therefore you need to consider how you can function with the behaviours or accept nc as an positive alternative.

Good luck

Fabulosososo Sun 22-Jan-17 11:12:26

Go NC. you and your counsellor/therapist will have to work really hard to undo the damage your family has done. How will you ever achieve that if you spend the rest of your week being abused by these same people? An hour with them will undo all your hard work with your therapist...Go NC or you will be wasting your time. That's not to mention the further damage they will do

SquarePegRoundHole Sun 22-Jan-17 11:26:14

'Vagabond Big hug for you. Well done in leaving what you considered home. It wasn't your home as home should be a place of sanctuary and safety. Somewhere you feel settled, loved and able to escape the wider world.

I salute your resolute strength in fighting for your treatments and counselling.

With the right support you could rise like a Phoenix out of the ashes and live an empathic and settled/contented life, both personally and professionally.

The kindest and most positive thing you can do for yourself is go NC.

keepingonrunning Sun 22-Jan-17 12:10:43

I'm very sorry you have indeed been dealt a shit hand in life. It's a sad fact not everyone can really on family for emotional and practical support - far from it.
Definitely go no contact.
It would not surprise me if your brother is a psychopath on top of everything else. Consider phoning Women's Aid/National Domestic Violence Helpline to discuss getting a legal injunction to keep your brother away.
Be extremely careful forging relationships with life partners. You are very vulnerable to repeating patterns of the past and hooking up with someone who will abuse you, since that is the dynamic you are experienced in managing/tolerating when most would have run a mile already.
Check out the Out of the F.O.G. website for understanding and ideas how to cope.
Search the internet, including Mumsnet, for information on healthy relationships and red flags warning of unhealthy ones.
And be extremely proud of yourself for getting as far as you have through medical school. Make your friends your family. You can't change the past but you are in charge of your future.

DysfunctionalVagabond Sun 22-Jan-17 22:38:15

DB called me earlier and just further persuaded me of how toxic everything is. He's been informed by DM that I'm not coming home because "occupational health have said that it will worsen your mental health". He lectured me about what lies have I been telling others, that "we've always loved and supported you". Trying to make me feel guilty because DM is now seeking counselling and has been crying most nights due this recent revelation. Supposedly I really hurt his feelings. I just laughed. I actually laughed. He also even gaslighted me because I told him that his comments about my rape aren't helpful especially in the recovery process. "I've only ever been supportive about what happened to you."

He concluded with this, "what happens in ten years time that when you can't hack it as a GP and have childcare responsibilities... who is going to look after your kids then? we might not, because we aren't going to wait for you forever." First thought that came across my mind was a) I probably shouldn't have kids for a long time and b) why would I let my hypothetical kids anywhere near you? "We all know that you're not strong enough to hack it."

It's like I have amnesia of the abuse I've suffered over the years, it's coming back in weird flashbacks. Two summers ago, I started baking. Once I made a coffee cake that he deemed did not taste enough like coffee. The recipe was wrong so yes, it did not taste of coffee. He declared it a waste of money (I paid for it myself) and threw the cake, plate included, against the wall. The floor sprinkled with smashed ceramic and a splodge of buttery grease on the matt paint. I spent days being chastised about that cake. He even brought it up this Christmas. "You're such a fucking idiot, [my name]! You remember that coffee cake you fucked up? Tasted like arse."

Anyway, sorry for sounding off... I don't really want to whine to my friends when they have 8am starts. What is the process of going no contact? Like what do I tell them? I'm due to get an upgrade on my current phone and new phone number in a few days. I feel guilty about going no contact with my DM even though I know she enabled my abuse. She's already in a depressive episode before this started.

Also, how do I tell friends and others about my NC?

PussInCoutts Sun 22-Jan-17 23:14:45

Two letters, NC

other than that, really wish I could help but can't, just remember to look after yourself , learn to put yourself first


gamerchick Sun 22-Jan-17 23:29:08

Your mother is not your problem.

Change your number, block all of them on anything going and just vanish and if you have too get restraining orders against anyone who invades your life again. You don't need to tell them anything. Be careful about who you hand your number out to.

I'm so sorry flowers

keepingonrunning Mon 23-Jan-17 00:05:41

With No Contact you just do it. You don't have to announce it to anyone. That invites a conversation which prolongs the contact instead of ending it.

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