Toxic family member: how to help her (adult) dd?(6 Posts)
I've posted here about this subject intermittently over the last 2 years but circumstances have changed again and I'd appreciate your help again.
Basically, there was a huge fall out in involving me and my DM against my aunt (DM's sister - I'll call her A) and my cousins in 2014. It was never clear what it was all about but a lot of very hurtful lies had been told, built upon lies and mistrust over the years, which led us to go NC with them.
As it turns out, we have learned that A is a toxic person, and may well have a personality disorder - we can certainly identify her as having the traits of a narcissist. I also suspect she might have borderline personality disorder. She's controlling, manipulative, emotionally cold, angry and violent, yet can also be charming and outgoing. She's extremely egotistical, lives within a world of her own fantasies, which she believes to be true.
One of my cousins (I'll call her M) contacted us to reconcile recently. I'm so happy about this, but it is bittersweet because, through talking, there is more evidence that there is something wrong with A (A is M's DM), which M has been subjected to since childhood. A is definitely at the centre of all the lies that were told that have partially wrecked our extended family.
M has increasingly been the target of her A's anger, aggression and blame. M has had a breakdown and attended therapy; she is currently NC with A. A supported M for years by looking after M's dd (I'll call her R) when she was young, so M could work. This has meant that A and R have a very close relationship and when M remarried, R never really took to her stepdad, which A encouraged. R as a teenager eventually left home to live with A without M's consent. R (19yo) now has nothing to do with M, aside from sending poison-pen letters now and again reminding her what a shitty mum she is.
M is heartbroken over her own mother's cruelty to her, and feels that A has 'taken' R from her. It's all a mess. I think that M is broken, but that it has taken this for her to see what A is really like - although it's deeply unpleasant. R doesn't speak to any of us and is completely under the influence of A. R's absence is what hurts M the most. What can we do to support M and help to facilitate R and M's relationship improving?
(I hope the initial letters for names wasn't too confusing or irritating. Thanks for reading).
This is a horrible situation and I really feel for you and M.
So R is currently living with her A, who is her GM if I've read correctly? Unfortunately the phrase "Toxic parents make toxic grandparents" is apt here A has probably been turning M against R since the day she first got unsupervised access to her, and that level of indoctrination is incredibly hard for a child to break.
Any attempt to try to tell R the truth about her toxic GM are probably doomed to failure and may even make matters worse as A will be crowing "See, I told you they were all poisonous liars who are out to get us! You see how they've victimised me for years!"
I think as hard as it is, the only thing M can do is to write R an email or letter saying "I will always be here for you, I will never cut you off and I will always love you" and then leave the ball in R's court.
That is why we say that toxic parents must not have access to our children.
Your cousin has lost her child. Pocket is right. It's a waiting and hoping game.
Thank-you both for replying. Yes, A is R's GM and has had complete unsupervised access over the years. It's such an abuse of trust. My DM and I feel so upset because we were duped by A: we always knew she couldn't be trusted, but couldn't have predicted this. We always feared questioning her lest the trouble it would cause in the family. M was untouchable at the time because she, obviously, was loyal to her DM. Anyway, if we ever overstepped one of A's boundaries, we'd be told to mind our own fucking business, just like that.
Some of the things M has told me and my DM are heartbreaking: e.g. she recalled being a small child, falling and hurting herself. A went up to her, screamed in her face, then walked off so fast the young M couldn't keep up with her. M said 'I just remember thinking: "why are you so mean to me?" All I wanted was a hug' and she said this with huge tears in her eyes. A 40yo woman sitting there, looking like a little girl who has lost her way. Which, I suppose, she has. It's so sad to see. No mother should do that to her daughter.
M does send texts to R saying 'I love you', and sends her little things she likes (band posters, that kind of thing) but she is constantly, and rather cruelly rebuffed by R atm; gifts get returned and messages are either ignored, or analysed and given a manipulated meaning (A probably has input here). M has another dd (by her second marriage) who M has made NC from A for the last year, as things were getting out of control. But R wants to see her little sister, and M feels that through R, A is trying to get close/regain control there.
I'm sure that R would reject any communication from us and the manner you've described it sounds spot-on to what I think would happen. I just wish there was a way to make R see sense.
Bear in mind that R is very young. It's taken M 40 odd years to see the truth. All she can do now is protect her younger one. How old is her DD2?
That's very true, pocket. M's younger dd is 10yo.
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