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Dealing with toxic family members and setting boundries...

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#1 Love2Smile

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 08:07 AM

What do you do?
It seems like all of my immediate family members on both sides are toxic.
Too much to even start explaining. But most are very toxic. I have been dealing with this my entire adult life. This Christmas, things got ugly with my BIL. My dh and I are the point where we feel we just want to be left alone.
Do you just come to a point where you give up? Just don't even have contact whatsoever?
I am sad because I have two sisters whom I will never have a healthy relationship with. Also another brother.
And now one of my husband's step brother's family.
And...a meddling MIL..

What do you do?

#2 2cents

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 08:21 AM

Family that is difficult, eccentric, etc. is one thing but toxic is different. I've been there and once I made the distinction between tuning little issues out and being a punching bag for toxic abuse, I went no contact. That is not giving up, it is making choices for the benefit of your health. :grouphug:

#3 Love2Smile

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 08:39 AM

Family that is difficult, eccentric, etc. is one thing but toxic is different. I've been there and once I made the distinction between tuning little issues out and being a punching bag for toxic abuse, I went no contact. That is not giving up, it is making choices for the benefit of your health. :grouphug:

Thanks...
eccentric behavior I can deal with, it's the being a punching bag I cannot.

#4 jld

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 09:00 AM

I would encourage no contact, as least for a long while.

It's hard to do, but after a while, I think you'll feel a great peace, and certainly freedom! :grouphug:

#5 Parrothead

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 09:07 AM

Move.

If they live in the same county as you, move so it is a hassle for them to come to your house and spew their toxin.

If they are all ready far away, do no answer the phone. If you must answer the phone, talk about the weather. The kids and family are fine. There are no problems in your life. Everything is hunky-dory.

If they are on the phone and they are telling you about their problems, you have to go because the baby is crying or dh needs you. And hand up the phone.

If you can't move and they are down the block, change the locks, buy an answering machine, find new friends.

People will only spew on you if you stand there and let them. You can try to back off and say no. But be prepared to remove these people from the majority of your life.

ETA: Our society puts great emphasis on family ties and the importance of those ties. But some times family ties are crap that is not worth a decent person's time or trouble. When that happens one simply has no choice but to cut those ties. If this was a person you were dating, would you let the relationship develop?

Edited by Parrothead, 26 March 2010 - 09:12 AM.


#6 35dn

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 10:04 AM

....

#7 Love2Smile

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 10:50 AM

Thanks for the frank advice.
My problem, which may be bigger is dealing with my feelings of anger, resentment and being generally upset that I have this large extended family and they are all toxic. Again, too much to explain, but I can't get over feeling expecially resentful that I don't share those happy moments, hanging out, shopping perhaps with my 2 sisters. No brotherly advice from my 2 older brothers. One is literally a stranger to me. he has never had contact with anyone.

My daughters will never really know their cousins and they have 7.

How do I put this feeling of being cheated out of a happy relationship and non existant family bonding that I see so many other families have?

(be as blunt as you wish :))

#8 amsunshine

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 11:03 AM

Thanks for the frank advice.
My problem, which may be bigger is dealing with my feelings of anger, resentment and being generally upset that I have this large extended family and they are all toxic. Again, too much to explain, but I can't get over feeling expecially resentful that I don't share those happy moments, hanging out, shopping perhaps with my 2 sisters. No brotherly advice from my 2 older brothers. One is literally a stranger to me. he has never had contact with anyone.

My daughters will never really know their cousins and they have 7.

How do I put this feeling of being cheated out of a happy relationship and non existant family bonding that I see so many other families have?

(be as blunt as you wish :))


:grouphug:

This is not easy. Look at it as a grieving process that you need to allow yourself to go through -- there is a lot of anger and sadness you will probably need to work through at your own pace.

#9 Love2Smile

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 11:09 AM

:grouphug:

This is not easy. Look at it as a grieving process that you need to allow yourself to go through -- there is a lot of anger and sadness you will probably need to work through at your own pace.

Yes! This is exactly how I feel! It IS a grieving process. I am grieving right now. Sometimes I just feel like I have lost "something"
Thank you for putting it in that perspective for me, it's how I feel but could not explain. I thought I was being selfish for feeling like this

#10 Love2Smile

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 11:17 AM

Also,
My husband is telling me I am letting these feelings have too much power over me and it's affecting how I parent and being a mom myself, because I am consumed with resentment.
Guess, it's finally time to let it all go, unfriend everyone on FB even LOL

Just live inside my own little box and take care of my own family

#11 Rosie_0801

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 01:57 PM

Also,
Just live inside my own little box and take care of my own family


Yep. You can decorate your box with whoever you choose. There'll be much more room for friendly people in there once you've spring cleaned.

Rosie

#12 Love2Smile

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 02:28 PM

Yep. You can decorate your box with whoever you choose. There'll be much more room for friendly people in there once you've spring cleaned.

Rosie

Thanks! :)

#13 WTMCassandra

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 02:42 PM

Yes! This is exactly how I feel! It IS a grieving process. I am grieving right now. Sometimes I just feel like I have lost "something"
Thank you for putting it in that perspective for me, it's how I feel but could not explain. I thought I was being selfish for feeling like this


Yes, you are definitely grieving.

One thing to keep in mind that this is a painful choice, but the alternative (staying in contact) will be infinitely more painful and destructive. In addition, staying in contact could extend the pain and destruction to the next generation (your children). Cutting contact could allow you to heal and your children to be protected. So neither option is pain-free, but the option you have chosen can lead to peace. Keeping in contact with truly toxic people can NEVER lead there.

BTDT. I truly understand. My motto is that if I have to help my children pay for counseling, I'd rather they be having to seek counseling because they have been deprived of extended family, rather than because they have been destroyed emotionally by extended family. And make no mistake, the next generation IS seeing the effects--the parents did not protect them and the devastation is spreading.

Edited by WTMCassandra, 26 March 2010 - 02:45 PM.


#14 treestarfae

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 02:45 PM

You are not alone. Being a military family you have to raise your children basically alone. This is whether you like your family or not. I like half of my family lol. I'm not even touching the inlaw situation. I'm not into facebook it's a waste of my time. If my real friends and family care they will call me. I think there is anger, jealousy and pain admitting you don't have proper family love. Love the people that need you.

#15 Lara in Colo

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 02:51 PM

Funny, I was thinking of bringing this topic up myself. I have a toxic mother and with that a lot of guilt. I talked to my pastor about this and he gave me "permission" to walk away, a lot of the guilt left at that point.
I still have a lot of anger and perhaps ya'll are right: this is a grieving process. What I hate the most is everyone in my family will agree with me, then back HER up. So I have lost all my family. That hurts--- not enough to constantly get my emotional but kicked all the time though!!!!
Like with lots of things, the correct road, is a lonely, bumpy one.

Lara

#16 35dn

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 02:53 PM

Yes, that's why I finally was able to let go of the relatives - I felt like I was eternally agitated at something or other, and it was affecting my parenting, especially. Dh even noticed that he unconsciouly favored the ds which his mother favored and treated another ds as she treated him (lousy).

And the first person I heard describe it as a grieving process was a counselor. I was pretty mad when he said that (in my early 20's). I had NO idea what he was talking about. But he was right. That's exactly what it was. Maybe if you read up on grief it would help?? I've never done that myself.

And you won't have to live in a box. People will come your way. And you'll probably be much more receptive since you won't be so stressed all the time from having to deal with the relatives. Eventually, anyway.

And there's always the comfort of knowing that you're able to be a better parent and spouse without all the added angst.

HTH

#17 Michelle O. in MO

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 02:54 PM

My problem, which may be bigger is dealing with my feelings of anger, resentment and being generally upset that I have this large extended family and they are all toxic.


I cut ties with my parents back in 1998. Over the course of the next 10 years I had two babies and moved across the country. My dh and I experienced the ups and downs that people do including health scares and financial struggles. I went through many emotions with this family separation that ranged from great sadness to extreme anger, but these emotions always seemed to culminate in alot of tears and grief. And that's just what it was - grief.

I reminded myself in those times that I would never have let a stranger treat me the way I had tolerated my immediate family's behavior. Also, just because they were family, it did not give them an excuse to treat me so poorly nor should I feel obligated to tolerate their negative treatment. And honestly, I've rarely seen the "perfect" family. I realize there are families out there that are almost too good to be true, but I think the vast majority of families struggle with some type of dysfunction or toxicity. So the grass is not always greener on the other side.

Without a doubt, I believe my children have benefited from this separation. No, they don't have grandparents to spend time with or who spoil them rotten. But, God has a way of providing for those needs in their lives and my kids aren't lacking because of it. Yes, they don't know their cousins - but what's to know?

One last thing....this separation from toxic family gave me time to figure myself out. I could not have done that if I hadn't physically left. I learned a lot of things about myself - some painful, some hopeful - but I found myself without my family defining that for me. :grouphug:

#18 Lara in Colo

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 03:09 PM

I found I had to prioritize my responsibilities. My marriage first (toxomom wanted me to leave him), my children (toxomom was fully capable of turning them against me or causing severe emotional distress to them in the future) and myself (after an argument with her I felt like slicing my wrists everytime) After my last arguement with TM, she stopped talking to me for 1.5 yrs, (all the while asking my brother what was MY issue) I found the peace in my life was FANTASTIC!!!! I've said it was the best 1.5 years of my life. My marriage is better, my sanity is better (I miss my SIL ) but wow, what a trade off!!!!

Lara

#19 Love2Smile

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 04:23 PM

Wow! Thanks for all the support and it's nice to know I am not alone, even though I don't wish this on anyone.

And it does affect my parenting. Being angry all the time, It really does, and it has to stop!

I have no control over these people, but I do have control over my own life, and I will not let them affect me like I have been.

And yes, I do need to love the ones who love me, thanks, I needed to hear that today

#20 Love2Smile

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 04:26 PM

And to the above poster who says she feels like she is constantly agitated!
That is ME! I am even mean to the dog sometimes. It's like an underlining anger all the time because most if not all of my family is toxic and even on my husbands side.
I think I need to go hug my dog now... LOL

#21 cylau

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 12:59 AM

You are not alone. We severed ties to my husband's parents. In short, they "cheat to live and live to cheat". The husband cheated on his wife. They both cheated us. They said because they were the parents, they had every right to do what they did. They also played favoritism. My husband was the most mild tempered, so they manipulated him to do tons of work for them. He resented them, yet afraid to say no. When we got married, they treated me as second rate citizen because they believed I was weak to marry their weakest son. They also believed we were too weak to walk away from their "cage". It has been 13 years. I am still grieving.

However, on the bright side, my dh has become a much stronger person than he was. He learned to say no to things and to stand up to his belief. Our kids, 8 and 5, have never once asked about them in detail. We know one day this question will come up. Our lives have been much better without constantly worrying if we were lied to or if they had manipulated us to put our savings in their account or not (because they did that to dh before he got married and denied they had received money from him).

Anyway, I had to keep reminding myself that not all family relationship is worthwhile. I just had to trust my decision 13 years ago that it was the right thing to do.

#22 sumeto

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 10:24 PM

My SIL has just called me "toxic" and I'm wondering what he means, that's why I looked up this forum. I don't know if I should just give up on him and his wife, my daughter and only child, who are parents to my two beloved granddaughters. Actually I'd give up on them in a heartbeat, I'm tired of hearing complaints about her childhood from my D and being scolded and upbraided by her and my SIL, but I adore the little girls. But is it worse for them to be around me when I'm an emotional mess from all the hostility and blame?

Also if I cut off ties, will I be in less pain than I'm in now? It's really hideously painful, I'm nearly 70 and too old to be weeping and worrying, but I sense from your posters that the cutoff is also very painful.

#23 Mommy22alyns

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 10:36 PM

Yes. My dad and mom became extremely toxic and I have cut off all contact. My dad said something s*xual and incredibly invasive and inappropriate and I couldn't in good conscience let him near my girls ever again. My mom has never been that great to me, but we tolerated each other for a while. Well, I asked her if she planned to get the girls anything for Christmas (she's notoriously unreliable) and she flipped out and ripped me a new one, accusing me of being a horrible daughter and all sorts of other nasty things. So she's out. They did it to themselves.

Oops. Just realized this was a zombie thread!

#24 ma23peas

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Posted 28 December 2011 - 10:51 PM

Thanks for the frank advice.
My problem, which may be bigger is dealing with my feelings of anger, resentment and being generally upset that I have this large extended family and they are all toxic. Again, too much to explain, but I can't get over feeling expecially resentful that I don't share those happy moments, hanging out, shopping perhaps with my 2 sisters. No brotherly advice from my 2 older brothers. One is literally a stranger to me. he has never had contact with anyone.

My daughters will never really know their cousins and they have 7.

How do I put this feeling of being cheated out of a happy relationship and non existant family bonding that I see so many other families have?

(be as blunt as you wish :))



Well, a start is do what your moniker says, "LOVE 2 SMILE!"...not everyone has those families (except on Little House and the Brady Bunch :)) I love my family, dearly...on a whole with all the turkeys I've known in my life, these are good, loving, there for you people. But, more there for you in a crisis...I just don't have that many crises I can't handle.
My mom rarely calls, she'll dote on you like crazy when you go to visit, she'll never visit you (unless a baby is being born)...which is awesome that one week of their 16 year old life! :) My brother has only called me maybe 5x in 20 years. Thank goodness for Facebook, at least now I can comment and encourage his colds/new job/ family fun...My sister rarely calls and if I talk with her the kids laugh because she does 99% of the talking..I do a lot of head nodding and uh-huhs..my Dad is the tops, but does he remember to call me on my birthday or for any reason? No, he'll talk to me about how to fix my car/what investments to make/how the animals are doing...but usually he's got to run b/c he's got customers (almost 70 and works 6 days a week 7am-6pm)...I'm the one who has to call them 99% of the time...no joke! Out of 100 phone calls...99 are going out and maybe one is coming this way! That's how I deal with it...I do not expect them to call, I let go of my "wish they were this way" feelings, and just smile when I'm with them.
They can annoy the heck out of me, and I"m sure my homeschooling and ways of living annoy the heck out of them (from a girl who loved horses from a young age, I have a mother who says she never knew I cared for horses....I just never spoke up b/c I knew they could not afford the lessons back then...I hope I know my girls' hearts better than she knew mine!)
I let my mom plan my wedding (I picked out my dress!!) but she picked all the fabrics/colors, I gave up after telling her what I'd like and when she picked out what "I'd" like and it was nothing like what I told her, I just let her go with it, I just wanted to have peace and proof that I was married, I didn't care if she put a musical sculpture of Scarlett and Rhett on the top of my wedding cake and it was beige and pink....I wanted solid white cake with green accents...when I saw that music box on top of my cake, I just smiled and LET IT GO!!

That there is my critical harsh advice...SMILE and LET IT GO! Move on, don't get sucked into the drama...be loving/kind/and keep expectations LOW! :) Much easier to smile with those boundaries! :)



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