We made it to present day here….well pretty much, and I am going to finish up the story and give you all the current bullshit that’s going on with my toxic family, but I wanted to take a break from all that and give you all some tips for dealing with Toxic people, whether they are psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists or whatever. I should probably preface this with telling you guys that I am (very obviously) not a doctor or qualified mental health practitioner. I am just sharing with you guys what has and hasn’t worked for me, and how I respond to the negativity, the baiting, the antagonizing, the word twisting, the gaslighting, the projection and just straight up, bullshit lies and psychoticness. (That is so not a word, but you get it). So I am going to explain to you guys, how I’ve responded in the past and I’m going to give you all some tips that I have learned along the way.
Tip #1: KNOW WHO YOU ARE
You guys may think I sound crazy here, and are saying to yourselves, “but it’s not me, it’s them”, and you’re right, most of the time it is them. Bear with me for a moment. You need to step out of yourself, be honest and try to look how you contribute to the toxicity, because you do contribute to it. I know this sounds crazy, but NONE of us are perfect. We all have one or two traits that when we read about Narcs, psycho’s and Socio’s we start bugging out, and for a split second we think, “shit, am I the narcissist, here?”. Most likely, the answer is NO. Reason being is that no narcissist, sociopath or psychopath is going to even be reading that kind of shit! They do not care enough about other human beings to truly understand them. I followed the Jodi Arias trial EXTENSIVELY and I remember watching a psychologist’s commentary on the Dr. Drew show on HLN, about the case. He basically said that there is no such thing as “all good” and “all bad”. (That is called “splitting” and that’s how narcs, socio’s and psychopath’s view things). As hard as it to believe even the most evil of beings have one or two good qualities…..even Jodi Arias….ok not her, she’s pure fucking evil. Anyway, I agree with him, and so while we, “the victims” are probably mostly all good, we do possess a few bad qualities ourselves.
The other thing to keep in mind here is that we cannot change other people. We cannot simply tell a narcissist to stop being a narcissist. God, if only it were that easy! We are only responsible for our own actions, and so with that said, we need to realize how we add to the bullshit, and we need to adjust our behaviors accordingly. I consider myself someone who is exceptionally self aware, good and bad. I have an innate ability to push people’s buttons. I am sarcastic. I am impulsive. I don’t always think before I speak, and at times I don’t know when to stop or how to filter my language. While I always knew these things about myself, I was not able to see how those things contributed to my relationships with the toxic people in my life, and how I was making things even more toxic, until recently when I took a step back and analyzed my relationships with these people. Unfortunately when tragedy strikes, you see people’s true colors.
A perfect example of how I contribute to the toxicity; I cannot take when people think they are getting one over on me. It fucking kills me. I don’t like when people think that I’m stupid and cannot read between the lines. I am a venter. I need to express my feelings. If something is wrong, I feel like it HAS to be known, I cannot hold back. Back before my mom passed, I was taking my anger out in an unhealthy, passive aggressive way. I would see quotes and stuff on Facebook, and feel like I could relate them to what I was going through with my family, and so I’d post them. My aunts (and their guilty consciences) being the same way, they would see my posts and then they’d go seek out their own posts or make passive aggressive comments. It got to a point where I stopped, but they kept going. It’s very hard for me not to jump down their throats and call out their contradictions and/or hypocrisy. I didn’t need the added stress at that time of fighting with them, and so I made the decision to unfriend all of them on Facebook so their posts would no longer show up on my newsfeed. I know I have issues with impulse control (thanks ADHD) and so me not seeing them would help me control MY behavior. If I don’t have the temptation there then I can better control how I react to them.
Tip #2: YOU AREN’T OBLIGATED TO RESPOND
This sounds so simple and if you’re anything like me, it’s not that easy to do. You have to remember that toxic people like to fight, argue, disrupt, inflame, incite riots, and cause chaos, that’s what makes them toxic. 9 out 10 times they are trying to draw you out of your fox hole so they can fulfill that need, or so they can further exploit you. If you don’t respond, you are not adding more gasoline to their fire….. you are putting out their flame. In the past four months I have held back and bit my tongue, and I have noticed that the more I ignore the toxic people in my life, the more angry and starved for attention they become, just like a flame needs oxygen to keep burning.
If you want to piss them off, ignore them! The worst thing for a narcissist or psychopath is losing their “supply”. Don’t be their supply.
I am normally very reactive, but I completely switched up my game. I was in a lose/lose situation with my family. I started to realize that it doesn’t really matter how gently I approached them, I am always in the wrong. I am the family scapegoat. They’ve been antagonizing me because they want to prove to everyone that they are right, and I am the asshole. The more I ignore it and press on with what I have to do, the more angry and desperate they become, and now instead of exposing me, they are exposing themselves, and the people around them are starting to see the sickness without me saying or doing anything.
Now, keep in mind, I am not saying that you should never respond, or stick up for yourself, or that you should walk on eggshells, and tip toe around them, not at all. I’m trying to tell you that you need to control if and how you’re going to respond to them because your responses are what’s going to dictate how the conversation goes and how much abuse you receive in return. When you are dealing with people who are just going to twist whatever you say around, it’s not worth your time to try to convince them of your side. I had to learn this the hard way.
Deaf people do not listen!
Tip #3: RESPOND, BUT DON’T RESPOND
This blog is one big response to the toxic people in my life. Writing is what kept me sane during my horribly hormonal, high school years. I kept a journal and I wrote in it every night. I stopped writing somewhere around my last year of college and I realized recently that it was a great and safe way to for me to cope with what I am going through.
I have received a few letters from my brother and my aunts in the last few months and I now realize that responding to them and giving them a dose of reality does absolutely nothing, because all they will do is deflect, deny or disregard the truth. They have no interest in the truth. I now realize that my best option is write them back, but never send it to them! It helps me get out the things I want to say, but I don’t have to deal with the backlash or bullshit that comes with it. I don’t have to deal with the frustration of their lack of acknowledgement or accountability. Trust me. I would love nothing more than tearing these toxic assholes to SHREDS, but I’ve realized now that it does me absolutely no good. I will never get back the honest reply that I am hoping for. I will never get validated by them, and so with that I take care of my urge to respond, but I don’t feed the beast.
Tip #4:KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE AND YOUR ENEMIES EVEN CLOSER
Ok not really close. By close I mean, know who they are. Really take a look at the people you are dealing with and ask yourself, is it me or them? My aunt Debbie is a great example here. I was very close with my Aunt Debbie’s daughter Tina. I would spend hours on the phone with Tina as she complained about aunt Debbie and how Aunt Debbie treated her. I sat back one day and really analyzed Aunt Debbie as aperson and I saw who she really was. Aunt Debbie has been married twice, and has had a long string of failed relationships in the last decade. She is 60 years old, lonely and bitter. She is constantly surrounded by conflict, because I think she actually enjoys the conflict. It gives her something to do and something to talk about since her life is so pathetic. My mom and Aunt Debbie talked every day and my mom would always tell me how Aunt Debbie always seems to be fighting with someone. She has MANY friends with whom she has had fights with, and hasn’t spoken to in years. She stops talking to them for years at a time and some she cuts off completely, and it doesn’t matter how long they’ve known one another. Usually it’s over something really stupid and trivial. Aunt Debbie is spiteful and vindictive, even with her own daughter. Knowing this about her helps me know that it’s not me. She has a high conflict personality. She always needs to be right even if it means cutting off her nose to spite her own face. I have never met someone who has fights with their friends the way she does. So you need to look at the toxic person and ask if they are surrounded by conflict. Once you determine that, you know that most likely this is a person who isn’t going to take anything that you have to say to heart. Even if you are right, they will never admit it because they are too stubborn. Trying to point out the truth or trying to resolve issues with a person like that is going to be very difficult unless you just completely give in, kiss their asses and grovel for forgiveness, even if all you did was defend yourself against one of their cruel and senseless attacks.
Tip #5 DON’T RESPOND EVEN BY PROXY
Most people you’d deem toxic in your life are also highly manipulative. They also like to “triangulate” and/or recruit others into their battles and crusades. If you truly don’t want to deal with their drama, don’t talk about them with mutual friends or other family members. If you do, don’t talk shit about them. Don’t give them anything to hold against you. A lot of people will pretend and play both sides of the fence because let’s face it, sometimes it’s straight up entertainment to hear other people’s drama and bullshit. Your words may get skewed and taken out of context like a big ol game of telephone. Just remember those who gossip with you, probably gossip about you. You never know if they will slip up and tell them something you said about the toxic person.
My aunts and my brother have been trying to reach me but I haven’t responded because at this point in the game, my lawyer has told me not to respond and not to put anything in writing. First my brother wrote me and email and then Aunt Bea. When that didn’t work Aunt Debbie tried to speak through my Aunt Dana who is in no way involved in our conflict. Her attempt to contact me was meant to be manipulative to both me and Aunt Dana. She was trying to get Aunt Dana to “talk some sense into me” and so she asked her to deliver a message. My response to Aunt Dana was, my name and phone number and the name and phone number of my lawyer. I told aunt Dana that I will NOT be communicating through her. When aunt Dana gave Aunt Debbie my response,she said, “that’s all she had to say?”. That right there showed me that she was looking for more from me. She wanted me to respond to the drama but I refused.
Tip #6 – KEEP RECORDS
This tip is probably the single, most important tip I can give you. Of course it’s just not possible to record every single conversation you have, but if you are involved in conflict with a toxic personality or you are sensing a conflict with them, you are going to want to start keeping record of conversations. This was probably the absolute smartest thing I could do when it came to my family. I tried to keep all of our conversations in texts. If I was speaking with my brother there were times he’d try to call and I’d make some excuse up and tell him I was unable to answer my phone. Sure my storage on my phone is full all of the time, but I have a record of every word that was said. If someone tries to twist and obscure my words or even their own words, I have solid proof. When my brother went and lied to a lawyer about my mom having no will, he had sent my husband a text telling him that I can either hand over the will that names my aunt’s as executors or he will be filing for letters of administration. When he filed for letters of administration, he signed a sworn affidavit that said he did a diligent search for the will and determined that no will had ever existed. Clearly he was lying since he had acknowledged it in his text. Keeping records will help keep your sanity!
Tip #7 KEEP IT BUSINESS
I realize that most of these tips are basically saying not to respond and not to feed into it, but there are times and situations in life where you have no choice but to converse with them. If and when you must communicate with them, keep it short and sweet, and to the point. Do not give them any more than what you have to give them. This leaves them with very little room to distract, deflect or twist words. Do not write to them or speak to them with any emotion or feeling about whatever topic you are discussing. Remember that toxic people do not care about your feelings, they only care about their feelings. You almost have to be robotic when dealing with them. Do not give them too much detail or make it too lengthy. I’ve noticed that NONE of the toxic people in my life seem to know how to read or listen. I can tell by their responses that they aren’t fully paying attention. If they try to change the subject, stay the course, but do so without emotions or criticizing them. It took me a VERY long time to learn this, but I promise you, it is worth while. If you don’t come out of your face with them, they don’t know how to respond. They get really tripped up when you are calm, cool and collected. There were a few times I felt I had to share information with my aunts, in the last few months, and so I just wrote very short emails to them, got to the point, stayed real cordial and didn’t take any of their bait to try to reel me into an argument. For instance, one of my mom’s neighbors saw a red SUV parked in my mom’s driveway, one day. I know aunt Debbie is the ONLY person who would be in her driveway, who has a red SUV. I was at the house around that time and noticed that someone had taken some boxes of my brother’s stuff from the house, that he left behind the night I caught him and his wife removing items off the property. I assumed my aunt Debbie, thinking she was the named executor of my mom’s will, thought she could remove the items from the property, and I couldn’t say shit to her about it. The reality was though, while she was the named executor, she hadn’t been appointed by the courts yet, and so legally she had no authority to do so. I wrote her an email letting her know that she was seen at the house removing items, and I reminded her that she hadn’t been appointed yet and shouldn’t be removing items from the property. I had tried to peacefully and amicably reach out to her in the weeks following my mom’s death, and she refused to respond to me. Of course once she was being accused of something, she answered right away. She denied being there, and so when I responded, I kept it very short. I told her that if it wasn’t her, I apologize, and that I should probably contact the police and have them look into it since, I don’t know anyone else with a red SUV who’d be at my mom’s home. She responded back, “Good idea.(that I call the police)”, and that was it…..or so I thought. A day or so later I got this lengthy, “how dare you”, ” I would never do that”, “I am insulted”, bullshit, argumentative email. She didn’t get the rise out of me that she was hoping for, the first time, and so she got angry and wrote me an inflammatory, email. I never responded to that last one. There was no need. It was just bait to try to suck me in so she could further antagonize me and argue with me. I refused to give her what she wanted. Don’t take the bait, my friends!
Tip #8 STOP FEELING GUILTY!
Ok so this one isn’t so much a tip for dealing with them, but it’s something to consider….I grew up in an Italian- American family that preached “family first”, “family always sticks together” and “unconditional love”, but I’ve realized in the past year that they don’t practice what they preach. I’ve also learned in the last few years that, that way of thinking is completely unhealthy. If someone is disrespecting you, crossing your boundaries and/or treating you badly, it doesn’t matter who they are, or how you know them, if they’re treating you like shit, they gotta go! You don’t have to take ANYONE’S abuse. You also don’t have to feel guilty for making decisions that are best for your life.
Going no contact is not easy and especially so when you are doing it with your family. Trust me, I know this. I held onto my family for the past ten years. I felt resentful towards them. I couldn’t understand how they could stand behind someone who perpetrated a crime against another member of the family. I stuck it out and tried to forgive people because I wanted to respect my mother. My aunt Bea saved my mom’s life by donating her kidney to her, and so I felt obligated to be there for her when her son molested my younger cousin. I will always admire what she did for my mom, but I realize now that it didn’t give her a pass to treat me or my mom like shit. I didn’t ask her to do that for my mom. That was her choice in life, not mine. She did that for my mom, not for me. I don’t owe her anything. I am not obligated to do anything for her, and quite frankly, she has some nerve being angry with me about “outing” her son. I didn’t ask him to molest my cousin. She will deny, deny, deny, that she has any resentment towards me but her actions speak louder than her words.
As much as I know it would upset my mom, cutting half of my extend family and my brother, out of my life, I know my mom would want me to do what’s best for me. If she could see all that they’ve been doing for the past four months since she died, I think she’d understand. You cannot feel guilty for cutting toxic people from your life……Period.
I hope this has helped