When you have been “rising above it” for SO many years, it can sometimes be difficult to remember why you had to in the first place. Usually, it won’t take too long for those people to remind you of that reason. You can be a very good person, who cares about others and does their best in life, but for some people it will never be enough to prevent them from attacking you. Some people have an uncanny ability to seek out, and point out, every negative thing that they can about you. You have several choices with how to deal with this type of behavior, none of them desirable nor pleasant.
One of the ways that I have dealt with the poisonous individuals I am forced to encounter on a regular basis, is to constantly (yes, you must make a regular effort to do this) remind yourself that you are not at fault. While you are not perfect or faultless, allowing the judgemental toxicity of others to affect you will only bring you down. In most cases, it doesn’t even do any good to address the issues with these individuals because they will never change. Sometimes the behavior will wax and wane, but it inevitably returns as poisonous as ever.
I really dislike spending an inordinate amount of time discussing negative things concerning family. However, when things have become so difficult that you start to feel real stress (things such as difficulty falling asleep, concentrating, feelings of anger and resentment for example) then it’s time to address the issue. Just the thought of addressing the issue can bring on tremendous amounts of worry and add to the already mounting problems.
I think as a society most of us would like to consider family to be a positive and happy thing. When the world is filled with strife and negativity, it would be pleasant to retreat back to the comfort of family to feel strong and safe. Sadly, this isn’t always an option. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a best way to deal with some of the situations. In my case, most of the things that are said about me are not to me and therein presents the problem. When you hear information secondhand, there is always the risk that it is inaccurate, partial, or misinterpreted. So you may take the time to prepare this grand statement of rebuttal, and then find out that what you heard wasn’t even close to what was said. Oh what a tangled web we weave.
There seems to be an assumption that if someone is family, they deserve to be tolerated on some level. This is a concept which I do not agree with. Personally, if the mental health and emotional comfort of my loved one is in jeopardy, all bets are off. Conveying that sentiment to a difficult individual is something altogether different. I recently had to pull a child of mine out of a situation where I felt their emotional well-being was in jeopardy. They were not in any danger, but emotional damage is real and can be lasting. As a survivor of domestic abuse, I am all too aware of this.
While these struggles with other family members are certainly not indigenous to me alone, I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had conversations with others regarding nasty comments, jealousy, gossip, and a myriad of other behaviors that are unproductive, snarky and unnecessary. How many times have we heard about how short life is? Why do some people work so hard to undermine another’s happiness? Perhaps the problem lies not with our own actions and behaviors, but with the issues, regrets and disappointments in our critics. While I could most certainly cite very specific examples of issues past and present regarding these types of behaviors, I’m not a fan of blinding others with the spotlight; I believe it makes them sweat too much.
This saying above really spoke to me. I know there are millions of these little squares all over the Internet that impart words of wisdom, but some really stand out to me. It is not easy to acknowledge one’s faults. It is also not easy to apologize, even though sometimes the apology is a long time coming. Perhaps the resistance to own up to one’s faults are a product of chauvinistic pride or by association to such an individual, and an unwillingness to change. I learned a long time ago that you cannot change anyone; they MUST desire the change within themselves.
However, within that saying lies an epiphany. Once you realize that their snarky barbs and nasty comments are a projection of themselves onto you, you will begin to understand the age old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Sure, words can sting and cause anger, resentment, bitterness, and long-lasting memories. That doesn’t mean that you need to internalize them and make them a part of you. Remember who you are and what you’ve been through. Whether it comes down to telling people enough is enough, or cutting them out of your life forever or until they decide to change, you will know when it is time to take action. Constantly worrying about tiptoeing around others gets old quickly.
It has been a long journey for me through loss, grief and anger in order to get to a place to feel strong enough to confront these issues. I still haven’t worked out how I’m going to deal with this latest challenge, but I now have the confidence to know that I will figure it out.
I leave you with this: