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How to deal with people who only respond to you as "impaired" - not as a complex human?

(51 Posts)
magnificatAnimaMea Sat 02-Apr-16 23:04:51

Feeling quite down about the future. I am pregnant, and know that once i go public with the news a lot of people are going to have unpleasant opinions to share about my competence to be a parent.

Various people in my life see me as either stupid or impaired or disabled, and spend a lot of time rubbing my nose in it. I recognise that some of this is them trying to overcome their own problems by being "better than" me; and some of it is because they either know about diagnoses of ASD, ADHD, and depression, or they just "have always known there's something wrong with me".

My parents have frequently made comments about things that - had they been done differently - might have meant I didn't turn out "the way" I did. These are always things to do with early biology rather than to do with formative experiences/ my parents' influence in my childhood.

My parents have said occasionally that if I ever get pregnant they think I should have an abortion as I am "too subnormal" and it would be unfair on any child to be brought up by "someone like me". Ironically both my parents have pretty strong traits of ASD, stronger than mine, my mother was depressed most of my childhood (and clearly didn't want me and didn't bond with me) and my father almost certainly has ADHD. Neither has any apparent self-insight or any apparent ability to reflect before they speak or act. They are both pretty unpleasant, but are firmly convinced of their own superiority and my inadequacy.

My sister only ever talks to me to relay stories of her friends where a "subnormal" parent has wrecked a "lovely, normal" NT child's life - or where a "subnormal" child has wrecked the rest of the family's life. She likes to point out every time her own daughter has apparently been upset by some nasty selfish child with a disability. Again, ironically, my sister has clear signs of ADHD and shows some signs of ASD, and she shows very little self-insight.

A few friends ignore me almost all the time except when they can give me advice about what's wrong with my life - telling me I need counselling, or asking whether i have thought through what it's really going tobe like to have a baby. In their cases it feels a lot like projection - i don't think any of them had really thought it through before they had kids - and they are not privy to any of the thought I have done.

Just to be clear - i have thought about being a parent. This is my eighth pregnancy. I regard myself as competent to be a perfectly ordinary parent, I think I have insight into my own conditions and into my own degree of being boringly normal.

I recognise that I may be on the edge of prenatal depression, and I am getting help for that. I know what to do about ADHD and what effect it has had on my career in the past. I know what ASD looks like, and what effect it's had on my life - and I also know that basically every health professional who's ever heard about my diagnosis has questioned it, so it's not necessarily as patent as my family and friends seem to suggest it is. It's largely irrelevant, but it might be worth pointing out that I used to have a successful career as an academic, I work, I'm retraining in a different area, so it's not like I am totally unable to function. I actually think a lot of the behaviours that I've had to modify over the years are ones I learnt directly from my parents, or ones that I developed from being characterized as "deficient" and a waste of space, by my parents and sister.

Is there ever any way to deal with people who see you as a destructive waste of their time - other than by just cutting them off and getting on with your own life?

springydaffs Sat 02-Apr-16 23:17:21

Regardless of dx, what you describe is a toxic family. And ime one goes on to have toxic friends/relationships because that is all we know.

Do you have the (immense) strength it takes to weather their hideous comments and let those comments slide off your back? If they were unrelated to you, had not gouged deeply harmful furrows into you, you could probably weather ignorant comments like this. Pot/kettle/black comments.

ime it took (and takes still) a lot of therapy to undo their awful legacy in my life. Whereas I have very strong boundary muscles when it comes to Jo/sephine public, my family can still cut me to the quick.

Hence NC. I have to live and couldn't live with their toxicity in my life. It sounds to me you are not in a position to afford that either - esp as you are pg.

Congratulations btw! flowers

VertigoNun Sat 02-Apr-16 23:22:12

Congratulations.

I wouldn't announce a pregnancy in your situation so you can enjoy the pregnancy. Keep up medical care and wait for people to guess. They will ask why no announcement then you explain why.

quicklydecides Sat 02-Apr-16 23:22:30

Do you already have children?
What happened with the other pregnancies?
I'm wondering if this has affected your own confidence in your ability to parent?

RealityCheque Sat 02-Apr-16 23:22:51

Eight pregnancies?

Will this be your first dc?

springydaffs Sat 02-Apr-16 23:24:33

Perhaps op doesn't want to divulge what happened to her other pregnancies.

RandomMess Sat 02-Apr-16 23:25:32

How do you deal with these people? Distance, a lot of it!!!!

magnificatAnimaMea Sat 02-Apr-16 23:25:37

No, I don't already have children. 6 relatively early losses, one molar pregnancy. This pregnancy is still fairly early and i am almost to the point of hoping next week's scan will show it's stopped developing as it would all be so much less bother than having to deal with all the negativity.

magnificatAnimaMea Sat 02-Apr-16 23:34:15

Thanks Springydaffs, Randommess.
I deal with it by as much distance as possible.

I konw that once the pregnancy comes to light my toxic mother will spend a lot of time deliberately goading, while being encouraged by her friends (none of whom seem to understand anything much - not that they could given what she says) to repeatedly visit without my permission "because I'm too impaired to know what normal people do". She would know that she isn't welcome, but because she thinks I'm too thick to know how to behave, she is likely to force herself on us all and then be all "poor little me" when handed some firm boundaries.

DH thinks my family are mad, but is also far more confident than I am that we can handle all this by putting firm boundaries in place. He's not the one being reduced to a gibbering wreck by nasty comments all the time though. I guess there's not much he can do other than offer firm boundaries...

HeddaGarbled Sat 02-Apr-16 23:39:59

Do you want to have a child? I'm guessing yes, because of the previous pregnancies.

Where is the baby's father? Are you a proper couple? Will he support you emotionally and financially?

Where are you living? Do you have a home for the baby that isn't dependent on your family?

If the answer to all of these is yes, you don't need to worry about uninformed comments from friends and family.

If there are some no answers, you will probably need some outside support.

We can give you advice about how to access support from health visitors, social services etc if you need it.

HeddaGarbled Sat 02-Apr-16 23:43:49

Cross post. I see you have a supportive H. I like the idea of his firm boundaries. Would you be willing to just let him deal with this while you concentrate on your pregnancy? Imagine the relief.

butteredmuffin Sat 02-Apr-16 23:44:37

Everything ok in your relationship with DH?

If so I would focus on being with him and avoid your family as much as possible. Even if you have problems, their comments are hurtful, not helpful.

Sorry to hear about your losses, fingers crossed everything goes ok with your pregnancy.

magnificatAnimaMea Sat 02-Apr-16 23:49:02

Thanks Hedda.

I'm married, in a stable and loving relationship with DH, with enough money, with access to outside support. We don't live in the UK, and we live a long way away from my vile family.

Do I want the child? I have certainly wanted previous pregnancies to work out. I don't know any more.

But that might be prenatal depression talking, or the results of another nasty phonecall with parents yesterday where they were reflecting ignorantly and hurtfully on whether particular medical interventions were the cause of me "having turned out the way I did". I was also reminded earlier this week of undergraduate days 20 years ago where my father tried to step in and inform all my lecturers that I was unfit to do undergrad projects with anyone but him (he worked in the same field) because I was too "subnormal" to be able to relate to anyone properly and would only waste people's time. Sadly many of the lecturers thought this was hilarious and treated me as "special" after that, and certainly avoided ever behaving professionally around me. Noone seems to have told him he was being controlling, unprofessional, abusive or trying to promote conflicts of interest.

Herewegoagainfolks Sat 02-Apr-16 23:50:04

Congratulations on your pregnancy.

I'm not one to say LTB or go NC but if your family are actually saying to you that you are 'subnormal' shock then these are not good people to be around.

I hope that your DH's family are supportive and can model 'normal' family relationships to your baby because there is nothing normal about how your family treat you.

flowers

magnificatAnimaMea Sat 02-Apr-16 23:51:16

Thanks buttered. Yes everything is OK with DH. He's away this week, thus I have too much time on my hands, and my family's input has too much influence.

It'll be OK. Mumsnet's nest of vipers is always a good source of help too flowers

magnificatAnimaMea Sat 02-Apr-16 23:55:15

Thanks buttered. i agree that my family are pretty awful. Few other people seem to see it though.

DH's family think I'm "unusual" and occasionally make a few digs here and there, they're not all particularly mentally healthy either - but at least they recognize that I am a human being. They're more concerned with worrying that I don't have a proper job any more, than with thinking it's because i'm a total failure in life. Again, DH recognizes their foibles and thinks that firm boundaries are the way to go. I find it easier to led DH's family run off me like water off a duck's back. Springydaffs was right about family gouging deep furrows.

butteredmuffin Sat 02-Apr-16 23:56:27

Um, there's no nice way to say this, but your family sound really horrible. I would ask if you have tried explaining to them how it makes you feel when they say things like that, but it seems a bit redundant in this case. They must know how hurtful they are being. How much contact do you have with them? It's good that you live far away, but it sounds like maybe even the level of contact you have with them right now is too much.

Pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood are hard work and you will often feel very emotional. You need people who will support you and reassure you that you're doing ok, not tell you that you're "subnormal" and can't cope.

You sound like you have low self-esteem, and to be honest, I'm not surprised if this is what you have had to put up with from your family.

And I don't know the details of your problems, but you don't come across as "thick" or "disabled" or "subnormal" in any way.

Herewegoagainfolks Sun 03-Apr-16 00:08:05

Your DH sounds pretty great.

Just stop answering the phone to your family and let your DH handle them all.

springydaffs Sun 03-Apr-16 00:08:38

I am aghast you are still in a relationship with these foul people.

Have you had any therapy?

I put it to you that there is a high likelihood you are traumatised by your experiences with your parents/family. Who wouldn't be. Of course DH can sail through with 'firm boundaries' but you can't! Of course you can't - and shouldn't be expected to.

Have you had any therapy?

Why haven't you cut them off? What is stopping you?

(Sorry if I'm coming across aggressively - not aggressive towards you! Horrified by your horrific experiences <cry> )

Have you had any therapy? wink

butteredmuffin Sun 03-Apr-16 00:16:11

I just re-read the OP again in case I missed something the first time.

This bit:

"My parents have said occasionally that if I ever get pregnant they think I should have an abortion as I am "too subnormal" and it would be unfair on any child to be brought up by "someone like me"."

Your parents clearly have no self-awareness whatsoever. I would argue that it was extremely unfair on you to be brought up by people like them, as they clearly have some quite serious issues.

However, none of this means that you can't be a good and loving mother to your child. You have a loving relationship with your DH, you're aware of your own issues and dealing with them, and there is no reason why things shouldn't work out ok for you.

It sounds to me like whatever issues you have have most likely been caused by your parents, rather than being anything inherent in you. Try not to beat yourself up about things which aren't your fault, and if someone is unkind to you, stay away from them. (Even if they are your family.) You don't need these toxic people in your life. You can make your own family now.

magnificatAnimaMea Sun 03-Apr-16 00:17:53

Yep Springydaffs. The NHS was very, very kind to me when I lived in the UK - as was the absolutely brilliant counselling service at my university where I worked.

Here the health system is considerably further into its death throes than the NHS, so I have had some counselling for depression, and have been diagnosed with ADHD here (very low dose ritalin is a godsend if one isn't pregnant or breastfeeding). But "help with prenatal depression" equates to repeatedly cancelled and rearranged appointments with a psychiatrist, who would, if I could ever see him, refer me to a waiting list for counselling, which might be long enough that the baby would be at school before I saw anyone - the initial referral for an appointment was arranged three pregnancies ago, and at the moment I might get to see the psych when I'm around 20 weeks (I'm currently 6+4). Good thing I have no problem getting pregnant and much the same mental health issues in every pregnancy!

butteredmuffin Sun 03-Apr-16 00:20:25

Are you in a position to pay for counselling/therapy? You might be able to find an NHS-approved counsellor who could do a phone/skype session with you.

springydaffs Sun 03-Apr-16 00:20:40

Pay for counselling?

Most therapists have a sliding fee scale. You could get therapy on skype.

Glad to hear you've at least had some input. ime it's been a lifetime's work to undo all the poison woven into my soul <dramatic> <appropriately so>

magnificatAnimaMea Sun 03-Apr-16 00:21:53

butteredmuffin thanks, that gives me hope. You're totally right that my priority now is, and should be, my own family. Just need a bit of polyfilla for those grooves... and that will come, with time smile

springydaffs Sun 03-Apr-16 00:22:06

So. What is stopping you cutting them off? I mean by that: what prevents you, what is your thinking around that?

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