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 Post subject: Negative People
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:17 pm 
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Huffs Nooch
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I'm not well known on these forums but I wanted to put myself out there concerning something that has been bothering me for quite awhile, and see if other people have experience with the same problem.

First off, some background information. Due to a fair amount of debt I built up in university I had to move back to my family home with my mother. I have lived off and on with her through uni, and it's been exclusively us since my Dad died. It's an intense relationship, to say the least.

I've found that she's the one person that can make me feel really bad about myself, but in a really passive aggressive way. Little comments and looks which on their own don't seem like much, but when added up are like a giant ball of negativity. I've never felt free to be myself, like I'm being chipped away, little by little.

Thankfully, I'm moving into my own place July 1st and I feel like I want to distance myself from her. However, I feel intensely guilty about this because, negative or not, she's given me a lot of support over the years, financially or otherwise.

I guess I don't know what I'm asking, but I'd be keen to know how others dealt with people who chipped away at your self worth.


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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:31 pm 
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I'm afraid I don't have any experience of having resolved something like this however I empathize. My relationship with my father is one where he has always made comments and looks that result in me feeling bad. I'm not sure he intends for them to have that effect on me, nevertheless they do.


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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:35 pm 
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Personally, I tend to avoid people who try to make me feel bad, or in general who have a very negative view of life and attitude, but I understand that might not be possible in your situation.
I'd try to build a sort of innate shield and let things roll away from you.

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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:16 pm 
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Sounds like a bad situation. I bet if you talked to your mom about this, she'd probably work on being less negative. Let her know that your relationship is at stake! If she values you and she loves you, then she'll work on it. If she doesn't, then let her know you're going to distance yourself from her. And that would be a shame.

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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:27 pm 
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TheHerbivore, my mother sucks the life out of me. I haven't lived with her for several years now, but even just visiting with her for a few hours can turn a good day into a hardcore mope-fest.

Moving out is the number one best thing to do in my opinion. You can talk to your mom about how you feel --and you should--but it may or may not change how she behaves toward you. Having a place of your own is essential.

Plan visits. This allows you some control over how often and when you see her. It also allows you time to mentally prepare for the visit. I give myself an idea of how long I'll be staying for, and I always have a firm reason for leaving....have to cook dinner, feed the cat, meet a friend, etc...these can be the light at the end of the tunnel, whether your excuse is completely true or not.

Think about what you will do after your visit too. I find that I really need to decompress. I've come home incredibly depressed or angered to tears. For me, vegging out in front of a movie helps me get back to normal. I just try to keep other stresses out of that day so that I don't get bombarded.

This all might sound over-planned, but it's the strategy I've cobbled together over the years to deal with the situation, and it just sort of happens. You mentioned feeling guilty. I feel guilty too because even though my mom is really depressing to be around and is unwilling to help herself get help, she's still my mom and she raised me and she cares about me....volunteering visits makes me feel less terrible about the whole situation.

I hope everything works out!


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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:06 pm 
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TheHerbivore, I'm so sorry you're going through this. I think moving out is a wise move.

My parents are both very negative people. I could go on and on about the various things they've done to undermine me in a variety of ways both passive-aggressive and downright aggressive.

Ultimately, the way I handled my parents was to cut them off entirely as they refused to respect any boundaries I set. I am a much happier and better person now, but it was very hard doing that. They're my parents and I love them, but I recognize they're toxic individuals who I cannot have in my life. It took me a long time to accept that it's OK to remove toxic people from your life even if they're family.

However, you still want to have a relationship with your mother and you've requested coping strategies. This worked for me for a little while, my therapist recommended to never to allow myself to be in a situation with them where I couldn't leave immediately. (This advice came after I'd been trapped in a car with them for two hours where they berated me non-stop for various and sundry things.) When they would start in on whatever their current topic was of "how I was doing things wrong (in their opinion)," I would get up and leave. They weren't owed an explanation for why I was leaving either. I got up and left. It worked. They reigned in some of their more outrageous behavior because of my use of that tactic. Also, I found it helped to defuse the fights they were trying to pick with me as it allowed me to get a little distance from the situation and because I wasn't there to fight with.

I realize that you're currently living with your mother, so you might not be able to be as abrupt as I was forced to get with my parents. Is there a safe place where you can go when she's getting especially bad? Just going outside to walk around the block might help.

Is there someone in your life that you could invite over on occasion? My parents weren't as bad in front of other people as when I was with them by myself. However, this sometimes backfired as then they had an "audience." I was fortunate as I had a very good friend who I could count on to be on my side no matter what stunt they pulled and didn't judge me for their bad behavior. She also refused to believe that I was as awful as they would make me out to be. It helped me to have her there as she was able to witness our interactions. Since she was a third party observer she could be objective and reassure me that it wasn't just me and that I wasn't necessarily doing anything wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:24 am 
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You are not alone.

Nobody has to be you at the end of the day but you. When I use that meditation, it really helps me. No amount of chipping away will work with me at that point because the person doing it doesn't have a clue what it is like to be me. Getting your own place will really help.

Thanks for trusting us to share. You will be okay. You are loved. There's nothing wrong with you.

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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:38 am 
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My mom used to be a very negative person, add to that her depression, we had an awesome childhood. Now that she's on the right meds, her mood has been better generally. Plus, now that none of us live at home anymore, our relationship has become a lot better, too. I think she doesnt want to spoil the precious time we spend together whenever we visit (I live two hours away, my other sisters 5 hours). So yeah, I think moving out will be a good start.


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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:49 am 
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I'm going to echo all the others who say moving out will probably help. My mother was critical and somewhat controlling, and even after I moved out I still allowed her to make me feel bad about myself for years. I had to distance myself (fewer visits & calls) to break free and realize that her opinions are just that, and it was okay to live my life the way I wanted, whether she liked it or not. 20+ years later I'm not close to my mother but we get along much better.

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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:20 am 
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As a mother, I believe that my children don't owe me anything, no matter how much I give them. It was my choice to have them, to raise them, and any subsequent decisions are mine to make.

You may feel guilty but distancing yourself from her or limiting your contact with her may be the best way of ensuring that you have a good chance of being happy and not ending up negative and immature like your mother.

I understand that you also have the difficulty of your father/her husband having died and that can tilt the balance of a parent-child relationship into unhealthy territory, with one or the other being too dependent on the other.

With people like your mum I find it best to do things with them that are prescribed activities like skating or going to a concert, something you both enjoy but don't have a lot of quiet time to fill. If she needs help with things around the house and you can do that, it might also be a good way to interact and for you to feel that you are paying her back somewhat, though I suppose she could be critical of that as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:56 am 
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Arisaig wrote:
As a mother, I believe that my children don't owe me anything, no matter how much I give them. It was my choice to have them, to raise them, and any subsequent decisions are mine to make.

You may feel guilty but distancing yourself from her or limiting your contact with her may be the best way of ensuring that you have a good chance of being happy and not ending up negative and immature like your mother.

I understand that you also have the difficulty of your father/her husband having died and that can tilt the balance of a parent-child relationship into unhealthy territory, with one or the other being too dependent on the other.

With people like your mum I find it best to do things with them that are prescribed activities like skating or going to a concert, something you both enjoy but don't have a lot of quiet time to fill. If she needs help with things around the house and you can do that, it might also be a good way to interact and for you to feel that you are paying her back somewhat, though I suppose she could be critical of that as well.



This. I am owed nothing by my children. But I am obligated by my heart to support them in the best way I can.

Not everyone feels that way about family. And family can be very hard. I do not talk to my sister, unless forced too, because she is so negative. And while, it is clear she misses our relationship, what I see that she misses is the jabs at me. Because she needs to be willing to meet in the middle.

Space is the greatest gift we can give a bad relationship if we want it to heal.

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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:38 pm 
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Huffs Nooch
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Thank you guys for all your advice. You've given me a lot to consider and definitely some perspective, especially about not feeling guilty. I never thought about whether I owe her for support given of her own volition.

And yes, I feel like moving out is going to make a huge amount of difference. The strange thing is, although Mum is the person who has impacted me most negatively, ours is also the most important relationship I have in my life. I have always looked for her to gauge how I feel about my self. Now that I have the perspective of age, and a little experience under my belt, I realize that no one but myself should determine my self worth. That is a very freeing feeling and in part why I searched for my own apartment before having made a significant dent in my debt. I've found my mental health is the number one most important thing, especially after finally freeing myself from a long-term and profound depression. Now I've found contentment, I'll do whatever I can to hold on to it.

So, thanks everyone. It's been a relief to know others have been through the same thing and come out the other side.


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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:38 am 
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I have a similar family situation, this might sound mean at first but hear me out. I have sort of learned to just treat my mom like a toddler throwing a tantrum. If a toddler wants a cookie and you say no, they might kick you and hit you and say they hate you. Now of course they don't really hate you, they just want a cookie and they don't know how else to go about getting what they want. I think lots of adults are like that too. The difference is that with a child you expect that behavior. I now approach my mom in a way where I expect her to be mean, to say rude things and to try to break down my self-esteem. But I look at her more with pity than with anger. It doesn't affect me any more than a five year old screaming "I'll hate you forever if you don't give me a cookie!" affects me. Maybe this will help you too. Come to expect the behavior, when it happens you won't feel as hurt, and if it doesn't you'll be pleasantly surprised. I'm not sure your total background (and you don't have to go into it here), but for me Al-anon was helpful (mine is a family of addicts, so there is that too. al-anon is for family and friends of alcoholics). congratulations on getting your own place! best of luck!

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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:42 pm 
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I've had a couple of people in my life who also make frequent, negative comments to me. For me, it works to ask, "Why are you telling me that?" in a reasonable tone of voice. Something like:

Negative person: "You've put on some weight."
Fenice: "What are you telling me that?"
Np: "Because you've put on some weight."
F: "Did you think I didn't notice?"
Np: "No, but . . . "
F: "So why are you telling me that?"
Np: "I don't know."

With some people, their negativity is so ingrained, that they don't seem to notice what they're saying and asking them why they're saying that makes them stop and examine what they've said. Sometimes they're a little less negative around me and sometimes they get a little angry. But I feel better for calling them on their passive aggressive comments.


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 Post subject: Re: Negative People
PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:05 pm 
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Huffs Nooch
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Fenice, I can't tell you how many times I've had the same conversation.


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