Saturday, 27 May 2017

PROTECT YOURSELF - A PARTING OF THE WAYS FROM TOXICITY



Me and Him

I simply had to write this post.

     Yesterday I spent a delightful afternoon in my sunny, hot back garden in the shade of our plum tree with a brilliant friend. She's  creative too and enjoys art, so, since my recovery from depression,  I've begun holding art group afternoons in my house. Very successfully, too. Unfortunately the others couldn't make it this time so it was just we two. Didn't do a stroke of art 😲 but t'was good to natter.

     The subject raised was families and the parting of the ways. Both of us had had to 'divorce' a family member or two, for the sake of our sanities, and boy - does it feel good! Since both of us could remember, certain close family members had been unpleasant or indifferent, ignoring our trials and tribulations and emotional health, or teasing or challenging. No sympathy. More a case of 'Pull yourself together.' If not actually said, certainly implied. Both my lovely friend and I had grown up with these problems, and not simply occasional problems, but problems that blighted our lives, although we may not have realised it at the time. And you certainly put up with it while you're growing up, because you have to, to a certain extent. I used to have double whammies. I'd be teased about something. I'd respond emotionally and unhappily, as you would, particularly when young, and I'd then be told off for whining about it! Nice - eh? It's only in retrospect, or with age and a bit of wisdom, do you acknowledge that this happened and now know that this was wrong!

     My friend told me there came a time when her relative went too far, negatively affecting her (my friend's) son. Something had to be done, and that 'something' was to split from this family member, and only see the person when absolutely necessary, if ever. Many people may say: 'But you can't do that! They're family!' My initial, rather emotional response was/still is: 'Yes, you bloody well can. You're not obliged to them (that's emotional blackmail), and even if you are, you shouldn't care if they were the Queen of England. They're not your friends and you don't want them in your life! They're nasty and not in the least bit supportive. You're adult, in charge of your own life, and you can choose who your friends and supporters are. If they just happen to be family members - too bad!' Now, looking back at the issue in calm and studied fashion, I still feel like that. Even more so after I completely recovered from depression. As for obligations - if these people cause real toxicity, obligations can take a flying leap through the nearest window - hazzah!

     They say families are thicker than blood. Not certain what it means, exactly, but it doesn't mean that you have to associate with them through thick and thin, just because you happen to share their genes, or you have the same parents. Not if they're unpleasant and non-supportive. You can choose your friends, and that should include your family as well, particularly if they cause you pain and always will do. 

     A year after I began the recovery process from depression, both my parents died within days of one another. They'd been devoted, and my father suffered for ten years after my mother's severe dementia caused her admittance into a specialist nursing home. I loved the pair of them dearly, and we had been good friends, and I had, on the whole, found them easy to talk to, but neither of them had had a clue as to how to raise me. My mother had had no problem bringing up my two older brothers, who were virtual strangers to me, always (it's only in latter years that I've grown a little closer to the older, more understanding, one), but a sensitive, creative daughter? What do we do with her? With her moods? And the cutting remarks she used to say to me over the years scarred me emotionally, on top of my already incorrectly wired brain and troublesome hormones. She spoke from the hip. Couldn't help herself.

     Shortly after the dementia began to destroy her mind, she became nicer, and more willing to discuss subjects that she'd dismissed in the past, such as religion. 'Haven't got time for that. Must get on.' I couldn't believe it. It didn't last, because the dementia grew severe and her final years were spent in the nursing home, being wheeled into the courtyard for tea. Tragic. Sad. I felt sad for my dad. Felt he didn't deserve this, and he didn't, poor man. But he grew more biting towards me as well. 'What's the silly cow done now?' And barked at me. I 'should' do this, 'shouldn't' do that. No wonder my brain suffered.

     But I didn't always put up with it. I finally answered my mother back when I'd reached my forties. Felt so good. And when my father barked at me once too often in latter years, I told him what I thought of the family and walked out on him. I couldn't stay angry for too long. He was in his nineties and might drop dead tomorrow, and I didn't want to end on a row. I became the wise adult in this situation - I rang him and we smoothed the path.

     There're many instances of rotten treatment within my family. Husband and I weren't invited to a family wedding (hated weddings, anyway, but that wasn't the point). My snotty nosed relative thought we weren't good enough. Who the **** did she think she was? I didn't give a doodah about her holier than thou opinion, anyway. Frankly, Ma'am, I don't give a damn, then or now. But of course it did hurt. Our friends were gobsmacked over this.

     So yes, I've been envious/jealous of people's close relationships with their families, and felt awkward when people asked us why we never visited mine (because we had no desire to), or they never saw us.

     Then - I felt better than I'd ever felt in my life, and nothing and no-one was going to get in the way of that. The parents had died. There was nothing in the way of my quitting family. In the last few years, I've heard tales of friends and similar situations. Thank God! I'm not alone! A friend had to 'divorce' her mother, another friend had done the same with her parents. And of course, my artistic friend confided with me her own story. I do text a certain couple of family members occasionally. I do care about their welfare. But socialising? No thanks. Too much history.

     But of course, this applies to toxic 'friends' as well. We reach a stage in life - and it should be sooner rather than later, certainly when you have that elusive confidence - that any toxic person - the people who you can't count on as a real friend - should simply be removed from your life. Not as in the Queen's words regarding President Trump: 'Make it look like an accident, Mr.Bond.' That would be just plain wrong. *sulk*. Just a simple case of non-communication. And in the case of those of us who suffer from depression, it's even more essential to our fragility.

So - I dare you. Don't put up with it if you don't need to. Quit that person, then see how it feels. Good, innit?





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