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Aunt shared opinion of me as a child

(41 Posts)
magnoliabloom Tue 13-Oct-15 21:58:08

Have NC but been around years (Pom bears, naive ham, cutter up pear, penis beaker, etc)

Have limited contact with most of family - multiple reasons and NC with other for many, many years.
However, uncle was dying and family was in denial leaving my aunt alone with the situation / them not visiting. I travelled to see them (as no one else would basically) - uncle was my dad's brother and aunt is the married in family.

Anyway, I never felt well liked as a child but over the years have reasoned this out and counter many of the negative messages parents, etc delivered to me. I don't buy into the crap basically and see it for what it is - their issues...

However, during the dog my aunt suddenly said 'It's amazing really. You were such a horrible child. Some of the things you said made me want to box your ears I couldn't imagine liking you as an adult but we get on so well now'

To say I was a bit shocked is an understatement- I just mumbled and changed the subject. It was months ago but it has me wondering - I can't get my head round it. Was I a 'horrible child' (ok if it was the case- I didn't have a happy childhood) or was she not a very nice adult?

Help me make sense of it please....

Duckdeamon Tue 13-Oct-15 22:01:24

It wasn't you, it was her. What a horrible thing for her to say. Please don't believe it. Sounds like you have got good arrangements in place to minimise this sort of crap from your difficult family.

zzzzz Tue 13-Oct-15 22:06:02

My cousin who is only a few years older than me and who I am very good friends with as an adult told me I was a really annoying teenager. It totally flummoxed me and I honestly haven't liked her as much since. It's not that I can't imagine I was annoying (though I doubt it unless you were looking to be annoyed) its just that I hardly met her as a teen. I think she just felt spiteful and let it out. After a there is no need to share that sort of thing is there?

I suspect your Aunt felt a wave of resentment and expressed it this way. Why? Who knows? It isn't you though, it really isn't.

magnoliabloom Tue 13-Oct-15 22:34:55

Thanks - I never felt comfortable at their house TBH and felt like I wasn't well liked... I was clearly spot on!

I do counter it well but some of that is about accepting the child that I was so to have this opinion of me as a child reflected back is a bit hard to take. It's not the first time I have been told this either... My sister and dad has said the same.

zzzzz Tue 13-Oct-15 22:37:55

I always find it a bit weird when people talk about children as though they seperate from the adult they become. I AM still the same person. More self assured and I have more say in my own life but I am the same person.

IguanaTail Tue 13-Oct-15 22:43:37

That was such a spiteful thing for her to say. What good could possibly have come from it? It says a lot more about her than you. Your sister and dad saying the same? Awful. Don't give it another thought. All kids have annoying tendencies - it's totally normal. The difference is that the majority of them become decent adults who don't make nasty comments like your family are doing.

You should have said "Same! The stuff people used to say about you was horrendous! But now look, I can tolerate you pretty well!" But that would be lowering yourself to her level. Let the nasty words sit on her lips.

It reminds me of this poem:

Children Learn What They Live
By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

Ataraxy Tue 13-Oct-15 22:53:08

Don't believe that if a number of people say it then it must be true. It only takes one dysfunctional close family member to repeat the same negative message over and over for others to completely buy into it.

In my case that was my mother and her smear campaign began when I was a baby.

NC is bliss. Rather that dwell on the comment use it to remind yourself why you went nc in the first place.

magnoliabloom Tue 13-Oct-15 22:56:11

Exactly Zzzz - I felt like saying 'you do know you are saying I am horrible'

I was always a bit socially awkward and I am a bit of talker when feeling socially pressured, even now so I am imagine as a child I was even more so... I am also a bit of a thinker and no doubt shared my thoughts grin

I do a lot to battle this stuff but I do get tired of it and sometimes there is so much of it I wonder if it is me.

UmbongoUnchained Tue 13-Oct-15 23:01:03

My family are the same, but then I KNOW I was a horrible, spiteful little gobshite! Just take no notice, if you're a different person now that's all that matters. Some people just think that all children are horrible.

Meloncoley2 Tue 13-Oct-15 23:02:48

magnolia bloom, it's not you...................

minimalistaspirati0ns Tue 13-Oct-15 23:11:36

You were what they made you

magnoliabloom Tue 13-Oct-15 23:15:00

X-posted with a lot of people and you all make complete sense - thank you flowers

Umbongo would you say any child you knew was spiteful and a gobshite? I bet not... I too would have used those words about myself as a child about 10 years ago but have realised that is what I was taught to think about myself.

You see people outside of my family who I knew as a child are still my friends now and they have never said anything of the sort about me as a child. In fact they remember me as not being cared for and nurtured in the way I deserved.

The thing is I haven't changed - all that has changed is that I question those messages I was given.

It's hard though and this one threw me - probably because it was mixed with a positive!

anothernumberone Tue 13-Oct-15 23:19:28

I appreciate this will not further your view of the situation OP but I have one of the kindest, warmest, loveliest cousins but she was a nightmare as a child. She was spoilt by her parents but not in any way a good way. It meant that she was awful to all of her cousins and we ended up tip toeing around because annoying her resulted in repercussions for the child that dared to do that from her parents. Tbh I think it is even more to her credit how nice she turned out in spite of her parents awful behaviour. The other thing which was a real eye opener was how damaging and overwhelming her parents behaviour was to her, she openly talks about it. Personally I blame the parents and I would refrain from telling my cousin she was a nightmare.

Heyho111 Tue 13-Oct-15 23:26:10

A child's behaviour is reactionary even when they are older. The way a child acts is a response to how they are treated, their state of mind (trauma/ no trauma) , what they witness and how well they are loved and respected. If they are saying you were not nice as a child they are also saying that something was wrong in your life and they did not find out what it was and fix it. So what she is saying , without realising it , is that you were miss treated some how and they did nothing to solve it. If you were unpleasant they created / caused it / did nothing to help you. It again is down to them letting you down.

ThisOldFool Tue 13-Oct-15 23:32:29

Do you feel good about yourself, now? Yes? Good! As for aunty, not surprised the rest of the family didn't visit. Mind you, she did say you how well you got on as adults. Perhaps that's the bit worth hanging onto, if you actually liked her before her 'revelation'. Point is you can pick your friends, but families you're kind of stuck with. With them It's either suck it or stick it!

magnoliabloom Tue 13-Oct-15 23:36:23


It has also made me wonder why no one saw how much I was struggling.

My child struggles - he has autism and even prior to diagnosis I couldn't help but respond to his struggle as priority to his behaviour. It wasn't just one adult but a number of them... You start to doubt yourself - I am lucky for good friends who knew me a long time.

paulapompom Tue 13-Oct-15 23:43:01

I have worked with children for years. And a lot of those children have severe behavioural problems - i have NEVER met a horrible child. I have met plenty of unhappy, frustrated, ignored, abused, neglected children though. And lots of parents/carers who say 'x is good at school?, they are horrible at home' - yes because you are horrible to them!

Iguana has it right, children react to their treatment. You did nothing wrong and she is very lucky you went to support her. That is such a kind thing to do x

magnoliabloom Tue 13-Oct-15 23:44:18


I have self esteem, confidence and anxiety issues but I challenge them every day.

Thing is my aunt, in fact none of my family know me. I hadn't seen her for years, same with uncle. Rest of family didn't travel to her because aunt and uncle were not saying how serious it was and they didn't believe me when I said his illness was in the end stages (nursing background 10yrs +)... He unfortunately did die about 2 weeks later without the rest of the family having visited.

It was a life defining visit - uncle had been told by my dad about some ridiculous mistake I had made but then asked what I was doing with my life. My dad hadnt told him I was doing my masters and excelling...

It's so hard

EcclefechanTart Tue 13-Oct-15 23:51:20

Don't believe that if a number of people say it then it must be true. It only takes one dysfunctional close family member to repeat the same negative message over and over for others to completely buy into it.

I think it's this ^^

I have a similar dynamic in my family. My mother has sort of made up this history that I was a horrible child (to excuse her treatment of me), and now everyone in my family repeats this. In fact, I was extremely well behaved, particularly at school where I felt happy and safe (unlike home). It hurts now when relatives say "oh, you were an awful kid" but I know it's become a kind of family myth to avoid upsetting the apple cart. When it came down to it, none of them protected me from my mother, and that's the harder thing.

milkmilklemonade12 Tue 13-Oct-15 23:51:50

Wow, she's the mater of the backhanded compliment isn't she?!

You did nothing wrong.

Atenco Wed 14-Oct-15 03:33:11

It sounds like a completely tactless thing to say, OP, but I have seen how unloved children develop annoying habits that people who are not child-centred would blame on the poor child. One of my neighbour's children, the one in the middle, was a terribly whingey child. I don't know much about the family, but I suspect the whinginess was from a lack of attention, I couldn't blame the child. I have also seen children behave badly because that is the only way they could get their parents' attention. To my mind all children are born good, but each one learns what works for them to get attention.

mathanxiety Wed 14-Oct-15 04:26:52

And yet, you are the one who visited your aunt in her time of need and the rest of them couldn't be bothered finding out the truth from your aunt and making the trip...

Clearly everyone's perceptions of you were very off target.

Were you scapegoated, do you think? Sometimes a family that is dominated by a narcissist has a narrative by which it operates -- there is often a golden child or golden children and a corresponding black sheep.

magnoliabloom Wed 14-Oct-15 07:49:19

I think you have it spot on. The power my mother wields over the whole family is fascinating and terrifying in equal measure. I have been NC for nearly 20 years and I have 'lost' family because of my decision - no rows but just not welcome in case my mother gets upset.

So Mathanxiety you are also correct. I am 'stroppy', 'mouth almighty', 'takes offence for no reason' and 'a bit strange / not right in the head'...
My sister is the golden child but until the last few years didn't buy into the nonsense - however her current partner loves my mum to pieces.

So yes I am the black sheep - single parent to boot with a disabled child (he seems fine to them - there is a very embarrassed silence since being admitted to special school)

Most of the time I stand strong but had a wobble yesterday - thank you all

PassiveAgressiveQueen Wed 14-Oct-15 10:38:17

i had a cousin who was a spoilt brat, entirely her dad's fault.
she would be screaming and tantruming the whole time we played as i refused to do everything(maybe anything looking back) her way.

I met her recently and she didn't throw a single tantrum, she seemed quite nice, but we never got further than small talk.

People can change from childhood to adulthood, now was this going somewhere?

RiceCrispieTreats Wed 14-Oct-15 10:54:57

It sounds like you were cast in the scapegoat role within a dysfunctional family, and the other family members bought into it. That's how dysfunctional families roll.

It suited a dominant family member to paint you as a problem, others believed the narrative and still won't question it, but are now surprised when they notice that the reality doesn't quite fit the story.

It's not you. People's perception of you says more about them than it does about you.

I have the same experience as Ecclefechan. I was a straight-A, obedient child, and it hurts when my relatives still talk about what a difficult child I was, ha ha. No, I wasn't "difficult", but I was being bullied by my mum...

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