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Beginning to see how toxic my parents are

(33 Posts)
GetSomeGumption Mon 30-May-16 22:46:31

I rarely see my parents at the moment. I live a 2.5 hr + drive away and they haven't been able to travel to see me for the last year so I go and visit when I can (maybe 3 times a year).

Last time I was there something happened that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I have my valuables in my old room at my parent's house. I am in rented accommodation whilst finishing a course and will be moving again in less than a year. I try to sort out what I can when I am there. I found out this time that my parents have let my brother take what he wants from my room to his house (he moved out recently at 30, has a job, is in rented accommodation but boasts that he has a lot of money in the bank for buying a house). He even has his own of what he took, but in his words "yours is better".

I got angry at finding this out and asked how my parents could watch him do this. We have a long history together as he is incredibly entitled and selfish and my parents have mollycoddled him. My parents were still doing all his cooking, washing, ironing and cleaning for him until he moved out, FFS. I got told that I was making a fuss and that it "wasn't worth falling out over".

I have not made contact since then and my mum finally called me today (3 weeks later), breezily chatting away like nothing had happened. I told her that actually, I'm pretty upset at what has happened and that it has just topped off some pretty shitty behaviour of his towards me over the last few years.

My mother started crying. Telling me to think of the bigger picture. Laying on the guilt trip that I am a terrible daughter. Just got a text from my father (who as an aside has the ability to turn the atmosphere cold with a change of his mood, and frequently does) asking me "how could you make your mother cry?" "I hope you're pleased with yourself".

Sorry for rambling, but I have learnt that I should never raise any feelings that I have to them as it will be turned around to make me seem like a terrible person and my brother will come out of it shining.

Chatarunga Mon 30-May-16 22:51:31

My parents do that ''we back each other up'' thing to. Which would be reasonable and appropriate if I were undermining them. But it feels like, we're a team and you must respect our right to under mine you. confused

i'd get a big yellow storage unit and move all your stuff there.

Creasedupcrinkle Mon 30-May-16 23:21:27

This is the sort of bollocks my family pull too, along with a subtext of "don't upset your mother" who is the family matriarch and hard as nails. She doesn't give a shiny shit who she upsets but we have to tiptoe about.
I feel your pain.

Gide Mon 30-May-16 23:27:38

Hire a van, go and take what is yours and stick it in storage. I had similar, apparently I should not make a fuss. Db is the gc and gets away with appalling behaviour. It's very frustrating.

WelshMoth Tue 31-May-16 04:19:29

What kind of things has he taken OP?
Itemise it then bill him, actually, send same bill to your parents.

Stay calm and rational. If your DF ramps up the chill factor, match it.

Out2pasture Tue 31-May-16 04:25:26

take what is yours and put it into off site storage. contact your brother and request the items returned.

NoncommittalToSparkleMotion Tue 31-May-16 04:29:00

Ugh, feel your pain. Just take everything next time, put it in storage and get what you can from your brother.

I have the opposite problem- I want nothing from my family. Mainly because, what they would give, they don't want anyway.

Mummyof02 Tue 31-May-16 05:29:16

Maybe it's time to distance yourself slightly from your family, as it sounding like your very hurt by them, still talk to them and communicate and even see them because they are family but also focus on other things in your life that make you happy and keep you prefilled like what you want to do for your future, where you want to go in life etc

LineyReborn Tue 31-May-16 05:34:55

What did he take? Can you prove you paid for these items? Because if he's just helped himself to valuable stuff you paid for, you may have some means of redress.

Baconyum Tue 31-May-16 05:37:50

I agree with removing what's left and billing him (through a lawyer? Public notary?). It's theft!

As for the toxic/gc/sg shit feel free to join the rest of us on the good ship 'you cannot communicate with batshit' thread or take a visit to tue 'but we took you to stately homes' thread.


SeriousSteve Tue 31-May-16 05:48:15

Agree with Baconyum about your looking (and potentially) posting in either of the two threads she mentioned.

From what you've said, I've inferred your parents' see your brother as the golden child, able to do no wrong, put on a pedestal and pandered to in any way they can help. You, on the other hand, are a mere inconvenience, the terrible child who causes problems and makes them angry, sigh and cry. Absolute bollocks of course, but this is the way toxic families operate.

Join one of the two threads, there's good advice, and good people who have experienced this kind of toxicity. brewflowers for you.

GetSomeGumption Tue 31-May-16 10:36:31

Thank you for the replies!

I am still hurting this morning at my father implying that I made my mother cry on purpose. I feel very strongly that my brother is the "golden child" and any attempt I make to bring this up is met with silence.

My brother is incredibly selfish and my parents make no attempt to call him up on this. He will only attend a family event if he gets something out of it. I'm not saying I'm perfect but I make an effort to go to things (even if I don't want to) if it means being together as a family.

I've been reading the stately homes thread and it's opening my eyes! My brother was the one who made life miserable growing up as a child. Was always getting into trouble at school, going out and getting drunk when he was far too young to. I've always kept my head down for fear of upsetting people.

I also find it very ironic at my father being horrified that I made my mother cry. He can be vile to her, making (not so subtle) comments about her not being as slim as she was when he met her, not doing enough cleaning around the house (he does it all to his strict ex-military standards).

Thank you for all the flowers. It's nice to be able to say how I feel without being shot down!

Chatarunga Tue 31-May-16 12:44:24

you didn't upset her. you just poked your head up and said ''he took my stuff''. It is ironic.

my parents are the same. Never ever look inwards. They are not bad people per se so I'd feel a fraud on the stately homes thread but it's like they lack theory of mind. They can't fathom that I could view something 1) differently to how they view it, and 2) be *entitled to do so & 3) that that is not an insult to them.

I got accused of throwing their generosity back in their faces earlier in the year when all i had done was ignore their advice. I ignored it politely to begin with. The problem is eventually I lost my temper because I felt so undermined and then they went to tears and 'how can you be such a brat'. I told them that they were confusing gratitude with obedience. I took a big step backwards. I know a pp suggested you do that but it doesn't sound like you're living in their pockets as it is.

I was very upset earlier in the year and now I feel a calmer sort of sadness, that my mother wants this totally fake relationship where I can never tell her how I feel, never discuss my plans for the future (she'd talk me out of them) never discuss a man or a date (she'd disapprove, and be horrified by the tiniest little thing) and she tries to 'influence' decisions I make, subtly, she thinks. I can never admit to the tiniest doubt or insecurity because she would roll her eyes and tell me snap out of it. If I'm happy, with some social activities lined up, she tells me not to forget I have DC (how could I forget). If I contemplate a job in the city she tells me ''you don't want to work in the city'' and I say ''well, I'm applying for the job so I haven't ruled it out'' and she shakes her head and says, no you don't want to work in the city. It is exhausting. I painted the wall at the back of my garden a kind of purple and they told me they didn't like it. I went ahead and did it anyway (which confused them, that I heard them say they didn't like it and still went out and bought purple paint).
So I've taken a step back. And now I talk to my parents like they're two great aunts I hardly know. It's sad. but they don't ''see'' me, or want to see me. The real me offends them, even though I feel a bit bland sometimes.

GinThief Tue 31-May-16 12:59:35

I am in a similar situation, finally realised that how my parents behave is not helping my mental well-being so I have stepped back.

I feel as an adult I should be able to say "hang on a minute, what you did the other day was not nice, and it hurt me". Have not done this before, so it took them by surprise. It then turned into me being in the wrong! I don't want to be in a pretend/fake relationship with my parents that makes them right no matter what they do.

Not heard from them since I raised this, so am accepting that I may have to adjust to life without my parents. A very sad fact but one that I think is better than a fake happy relationship.

I hope you can recover the remaining valuables OP flowers

GetSomeGumption Tue 31-May-16 13:06:12

Chatarunga I don't think someone who paints their back ball purple sounds bland- it sounds fabulous!

YES to confusing gratitude with obedience!

I have suffered quite a lot from anxiety in the past that began when I was a teenager worrying about things that I really shouldn't have been worrying about at that age. My father would go on about not being able to afford something and acting as if we were skint- what he actually meant was "I have plenty of savings available but don't have that money available spare in my current account right now". My anxiety flared up at university and I became very tearful every time I went home or they visited- this wasn't due to hating uni it was because I felt guilty at leaving them. They acted so vulnerable and really prolonged goodbyes with lots of tears and concern (from them).

During exam times for my course or times of stress I tend to disappear a bit. I just try to get my head down and get through things to avoid the anxiety overwhelming me. If I don't contact them for a week or so I get pleading messages telling me to let them know I am ok, or they presume I have been kidnapped or something horrible has happened to me.

I have been studying psychiatry as part of my course and have come across the concept of 'high expressed emotion' within families. It doesn't quite fit for mine, but it's really made something click inside. My parents drive my anxiety and can be overly concerned.

I understand about not discussing things with your mother. Mine can be extremely negative about people. She thrives on gossip and snarky comments about people. I mentioned to her recently that I was getting a bike to get fitter and got met with "oh god, no" and "are you going to cycle on the roads?? Are you going to buy a helmet??". And yet my brother decides on a whim to go caving/bungee jumping/mountain biking at a whim and is praised for being so adventerous.

Sorry, I feel like I'm doing a bit of a brain dump here but it really is bringing up a lot of feelings that I have repressed for many years!

GetSomeGumption Tue 31-May-16 13:07:59

GinThief As children we're encouraged by our parents to talk it out with friends if they do something we don't like, and then suddenly as adults we're not allowed to do it to our parents.

It's not even about the valuables, they can be replaced. It's the principle IYSWIM?

JiltedJohnsJulie Tue 31-May-16 13:11:04

You shouldn't really be leaving things at your parents house though should you?

RunRabbitRunRabbit Tue 31-May-16 13:24:10

You definitely need to detach from your parents anxiety inducing dramas.

You also need to get your stuff back off your brother. Ultimately, it was him that robbed you, not your parents. It isn't entirely fair to shout at them when he's the one who actually took your stuff. Don't let the fucker keep treating you like a doormat. Turn up on his doorstep and don't leave until you have your stuff. I'm surprised you haven't already. Are you afraid of him?

Lottapianos Tue 31-May-16 13:32:00

OP, I get it completely. Your family sounds very similar to mine - I'm a scapegoat, brother is golden child, I'm not allowed to have any feelings of my own, not allowed to challenge brother ever, silence is used as a weapon, must keep mother happy at all costs. When you grow up with this, it becomes normal to you. It can be intensely painful to realise just how very unhealthy and dysfunctional your parents' behaviour is.

I'm in minimal contact with my parents these days. I've had professional support (psychotherapy) to help detach from them emotionally. I still feel some guilt but its manageable these days, I don't feel like its going to kill me anymore.

Carry on with the 'brain dumps' smile Let it out. You will find that there is a lot of stuff to say and to share once you open the floodgates. As you know, lots of us on here understand how you feel

Chatarunga Tue 31-May-16 13:47:09

yeh, go ahead with the brain dumps. It helps me, to know that that level of frustration is common actually, and that I'm not a brat. I have to say, don't want to out myself, but at a time in my life when I really needed help, my parents were there for me, practically and financially. And emotionally too, at the time, when my emotions weren't trying to take me out of their nest. When I started expressing ideas such as, motherhood is just a part of my life and I'd like a job, or, I want to drive, or I want a car, i want a boyfriend, i want a liiiiiiiiife, for some reason I'm slapped back down and reminded to be grateful!! which is ironic, because I am. I am. I just don't want to have to live like I need their permission all the time. For everything. I have had therapy and I know that I'm a big girl now and that's on me. But like you and like lottapianos it galls that they treat my brother so differently. he can do what he likes. They admire him and respect him. They don't advise him or patronise him, and they certainly don't call him a brat if he ignores their advice! In fact they'd go to him asking his advice, stoking his ego ykwim (but he's not the problem. although, he wouldn't really get why I was so upset because from his pov, well, he has a different less frustrating relationship with them!)

swelchphr Tue 31-May-16 13:53:04

Sorry, that sucks that your brother has been taking your stuff and then that your parents acted that way. As someone mentioned, I'd go get a storage unit & move your stuff - problem solved (at least the stealing part). Regarding your parents, I'd just continue to have less contact if they are going to make you feel that way.

GinThief Tue 31-May-16 13:55:23

I find "brain dumps" help, I've started writing in a diary again to get my thoughts and feelings out.

Totally know what you mean about the principles. Is it too much to think an apology would be nice then move on? Rather than "we are your parents so are never wrong" attitude.

Lottapianos Tue 31-May-16 13:57:35

The most insane-making thing for me Chatarunga is that my parents would absolutely swear blind that they treated all three of us the same! My sister and I challenged them on it a few times when we were teenagers - for example, 'we are expected to help with the dishes, but he has just dumped his plate by the sink and gone to watch TV and you're ok with that. How is that fair???'. They would either deny what had just happened in front of our eyes, or make excuses about how 'good' he was really, and that he would sometimes even come and offer help without being asked etc etc etc. Basically, he could just do no wrong ever, and its the same now he's 32 years old. I'm not really in contact with my brother anymore but I know he's one of the most miserable people I know - alcohol problems, constant anger and rage, problems with authority, ferocious temper. He called me an effing c-word in front of the family one Christmas Eve for pulling him up on some foul homophobic comments he made, and I was expected to just get over it and have no feelings about it whatsoever. I got 100% of the blame for what happened, even though I hadn't shouted at him or sworn. I think of that incident from time to time - its a useful reminder of exactly what he and my family think of me

Chatarunga Tue 31-May-16 14:58:09

Sounds awful. I get that 'script'. The script that you can NEVER reasonably be upset. It is always awkwardness, a scene, drama.
I am so glad that i can take a look at myself. Im not perfect. They are not bad. I forgive them for 90% of what they swear blind i imagine(d), but omg i wish they had some srlf-awareness and some inclination to reflect.

SeriousSteve Tue 31-May-16 15:03:55

Chararunga, your situation sounds horrific. You'd be most welcome on the Stately Homes thread, you're definitely not a fraud. Your parents happy nature doesn't mean there is a lack of toxicity there. In fact, they sound very toxic.

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