Toxic is toxic
Toxic people need to be removed from your life for you to be the best and happiest you can be. It doesn’t matter who they are. Family, lifelong friend? It doesn’t matter. If you have gotten to a place where they are adding stress to your life instead of joy, then it is time for them to go. Don’t just wipe people out without a discussion first but if you’ve tried to relate how you feel and they either don’t get it or don’t seem to care…then you need to move on.
My mother was one of those people for me. First of all, we were both very much alike. We were both stubborn, opinionated, strong-willed and liked to have our own way. So, I understood my mother and recognized her motives much of the time. As we, grew older my mom seemed to have these expectations of her children to rally around her and make her the center of our lives. She was heartbroken when my sister moved across the country and then a few years later my brother also moved far away. When I moved one state away to New Jersey I was guilted with…now, you’re leaving me too.
My mom was never in good health. I can’t tell you how much time I spent in hospitals waiting for her to get out of surgery after surgery. Many times she was rushed to the hospital with one ailment of another. She was is a coma for a month at one time and I went to see her every other day for that month. Not only was I concerned about my mother’s health but I was also expected to be there every moment possible. Much to my dismay when I was going in to have surgery not long after I got married, she told me she wasn’t going to be able to come with me. She actually did show up at the last minute but left the second I was out of surgery leaving my husband there by himself.
As the years went on, we grew more and more distant. I realized that if I didn’t do exactly what she wanted me to do I would be on the naughty list. I was still there for every holiday unless I was at my in-law’s house. I still made sure to see her if I could. But we weren’t close. She was a big complainer. She was very negative and I was trying so hard to get away from that kind of thinking. I told her that it made me not want to be around here because her negativity could pull me in like quicksand. It was so much easier to be negative because it was how I was used to being and it felt good to me to just play a victim. But I had to work really hard to try to look on the bright side and it took every ounce of my being to do it at times. She was who she was though and she didn’t change. Maybe I shouldn’t have expected her to but at least I told her what my issue was and maybe she could understand? I do get it’s asking a lot. She thought so I’m sure.
I felt that I was still there for mom whenever she needed me most. I still went to see her in the hospital when she ended up there yet again. When she moved homes in her 70’s I packed up about half her house while she sat on the computer and played games. When there were issues with the sale going through at the last minute, I was on the phone with her every day talking her down. However, when Joe and I bought our dream house at the shore she didn’t even call to congratulate me or see how things were going.
My mom had become toxic in my life. She consistently hurt me over and over again in the last few years of her life. I had numerous conversations with her about the things she did that made me feel bad, the times acted like she cared more about other people in her life than me…her daughter. I told her that I felt like she treated other people better than she treated me. She never wanted to hear any of this. She would dismiss it by saying that isn’t how she meant it but never did anything to change it either. She also made me feel bad and guilty about the state of our relationship. She was a master manipulator and knew how to make me feel just awful. She was very good at it. I always felt like the worst daughter in the world. I kept my distance when I could because I always felt bad about myself after our interactions. I tried to tell her this but it didn’t make a difference in how our relationship unfolded.
When my mother died, I found out that she directed my stepfather to divide the rest of their assets in a way that did not include me. This was my mother’s final message to me. You weren’t good enough and I’m going to make sure you know it. I hope you never have to know how it feels to be left out of a parent’s final wishes. The thing that kills me the most is how she obviously wanted to get in one last slap on her way out the door, one last twist of the knife in my back. And this is how she wanted me to remember her because of course this will be my last memory of my mother. I’m not sure how she wanted to be remembered by me but they aren’t good ones.
Looking back, which of course is 20/20, I wish I would have just cut ties with my mother years before. I contributed to our relationship as much as I could while preserving my own health and happiness and yet it still wasn’t good enough. I know I tried harder than she did. In fact, I don’t think she tried at all those last few years. So I spent all those years feeling bad, feeling guilty for not being enough and then she proved me right…no matter what I did, it was never going to be enough for her. Now, that she has been gone for a year I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer feel like a horrible person for being a horrible daughter. But here’s the thing my mother could never admit to. She was a pretty horrible mom those last few years.
I would like to think that if my mom really knew how this would have affected me, she wouldn’t have done it. But I’m not sure. What I do know is I’m a much happier person and I never feel like that horrible human I used to feel like on a regular basis when she was still here. I’m not sure if I would have been happy cutting ties with her but then at least I wouldn’t have been shocked when I was cut out of final wishes and I wouldn’t have spent so many years feeling awful about myself and the kind of daughter I was but again, hindsight is 20/20.
I can only give you my story as an example. Take the lessons I learned and apply it to how you it can help you most. I do know that I feel much better about myself and my life since the toxicity has been gone.
It’s “I wish it were cocktail Friday” Thursday and boy do I need a cocktail now. Think about how any of the relationships in your life may be damaging and what you can do about it. Now, go make it your best day yet!
Listen to me discuss this topic today on my daily podcast available at Hopefulist.com, on Apple, Spotify, YouTube, and TuneIn. Just search for "The Hopefulist"!
Please check out my website. It’s your one stop spot for everything “The Hopefulist”. Hopefulist.com.