When speaking of toxic families, there are two basic categories: the ones that feature high levels of aggression, overt conflict and anger, or the families that are cold, unsupportive and neglectful. But how do you cope when your family includes all of the above? CyberShrink advises.
Q: How to heal from toxic parents?
I have struggled with my toxic parents all my life. They got married (because I was on the way) and divorced three years later. Mom said it was because dad was cheap and beat her. Dad said it was because mom was a cheater and extravagant spender. Mom and I went to live with my grandmother, dad had me on weekends. They would have terrible fights, even after the breakup.
Mom had several boyfriends, one after the next and they would have intercourse with me in the bed. That is just one example of what I experienced, there are too many to mention here. When dad was angry at me he would tell me I was just like my mom, and vice versa when she was angry. I was called every name (especially by mom) from stupid to ugly, useless, bitch, and worse. I was always told other kids were better than me and why couldn't I be like them. I was neglected, abused (sexually by one of mom's ex boyfriends: she asked me what I did to lead him on, but now says she doesn't remember saying that).
I grew up, put myself through university with scholarships and part time work. During this time I paid half of the housing rent. I finally decided to move out and leave my mom. This is when it gets emotionally manipulative. Mom suddenly, for the first time tells me she loves me and is proud of me, starts forcing her "motherly love" and presence into my life. She is a compulsive liar and gambler, coming to me with sob stories all the time. I help her out - only to find she squandered my money at the casino and the loan sharks then look for her debts to be paid by me "in whatever way possible"(she gave them my contact details).
Dad remarried (his own cousin) and has two kids (one is his, a paternity test later proved the other was not) - she has six from previous men. I left the country for my own reasons and to get away from it all. All the while I was paying my mother's food and accomodation (she got fired for stealing and is living with her sister). I also gave dad money as he was retrenched.
Time passed, I married and arranged for my mom to visit me overseas, hoping she'd changed and developed some maternal instincts as she's aged. She was supposed to be here for 2.5 more months. After two weeks, I saw that there was no change. I am still just the "back up" plan.
She really thinks I owe her! She expects to be spoiled and coddled and treated the way a parent who actually cared for their child deserves to be treated. My husband and I are funding her trip completely and she acts as if it's something she deserves. She is still a compulsive liar and leech. This is going to be a very hard few months. I know I have to cut her and my father from my life completely. It is sad that I'll have to do this for a second time in my life, but my own mental, physical and financial stability is at stake if I don't. My extended family won't understand, they were not raised by them and were only shown what my mom wanted them to see. I need strength, wisdom and courage to do what's right - whatever "right" may be.
Expert: It doesn't matter what your extended family think, if they are stupid enough to believe your loser parents – who appear to be truly toxic poor excuses for humanity. Yes, cut them out of your life totally. Tell them finally that they have caused you nothing but misery, that they don't deserve anything at all from you, ever again, and should leave you alone. Maybe a counsellor could help you to find the strength and skill to keep to this sensible decision.
People like the parents you describe NEVER change; sometimes, for their own benefit, they might try to pretend they have changed, but should not be believed.
Your mom's sudden pretence of love for you when it suited her, reminds me of an old song, recorded by Fred Astaire, which was supposed to have the longest title ever: "How could you believe me when I said I loved you, when you know I've been a liar all my life?"
Triple threat of toxic friends
(Joanne Hart, Health24, February 2012)