(Closed) Toxic parent = a higher incidence of toxic relationships?

posted 6 years ago in Relationships
Post # 2
Member
1770 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

My mother, in her mind, is a wonderful person. Most people who meet her think she is a very sweet person.

This is me, unfortunately.

 I endured a few very abusive and toxic romantic relationships in my 20′s.

And sadly, this is also me.

It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that my mom (and dad) played a key part in my upbringing. For my entire life they have acted as though I am who I am, not because of them, but because I was adopted when I was 2.  I never had close, healthy relationships with people and I think that is because I never had one with them.  Everything has been my fault growing up, and at 24 almost 25 I have been in counseling with my husband to understand how to get past everything that’s happened.  Emotional abuse hurts, and sometimes the person or people doing it will never see their role in it.

My marriage counselor has helped me to realize that my parents may never accept that they aren’t perfect and she has encouraged me to set boundaries with them.  They purposely pick fights with me to make me look crazy, and act like I’m this terrible, abusive daughter.  But the reality is, they are so set isolated with each other that they can’t see what they’ve actually caused. 

I really encourage you to seek counseling, it has helped me immensely! sorry for rambling 🙂

 

Post # 4
Member
1336 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

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devi514:  

Yes I can relate a bit.  My mom did not want to have another child after my two older brothers but my dad kinda forced her into it (he was the boss in their rekationship) and I don’t think her feelings changed much after she had me.  She fed me & bathed me & taught me stuff but she never played with me, showed any affection or joy or ever said she loved me.  She never made hurtful remarks such as your examples though, not that I can recall.  She more just kinda ignored me.

My dad was real mean.  he would come home drunk & beat up my older brothers & scare the shit out of me & my mom & say horrible things to us, sreaming at us for hours & terrorizing us.  Sometimes he’d throw a wad of money at my mom & tell us to get out & we’d have to go stay in a hotel.  BUT, my dad when not drunk, DID play with me.  There was laughter & joy.  However that only lasted until around the age of 6 and then he took a job that had him out if the country for weeks on end, then he’d come home for a small time & there were a lot of drunken scary nights, the connection we had never really came back. 

I was also a bit of a problem child.  Not bad, and not disrespectful.  But I did HORRIBLE on school.  Every report card was a bad report card.  That caused A LOT of grief when my dad would come back home after being gone, that fueled his rage A LOT.  And as I got older my brothers  weren’t around to absorb any of his rage because they were 10 years older than me & had moved out by the time I was 8 or so.  There was a lot of fear & insecurity in my life growing up.  There is one more piece to the story with my dad that I won’t get into that had a huge affect on me.  

YES, of course all our past experiences & relationships have a connection to our relationships as adults!  That goes without saying!  I think part of the reason I married at a later age is because it took me a great while to undo all the kinks I had in my hose & get my water to run smooth so to speak.  I was pretty nutty at times in my past relationships and dated a lot of Mr. Wrongs along the way.  However, I was always self aware.  I knew when I was dating Mr. Wrong, and I knew I had some “issues” but it was just part of my process.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not without my quirks now.  But I’m still improving and I don’t think we all need to be totally perfect with zero hangup or flaws.  Some imperfections make us who we are, some quirks are part of our essence and have as much to do with who we are as the really awesome parts of us.  If not for some of the ugly stuff I probably would have a very different sense of humor, or empathy.  

My relationship with my mom is much closer now in adulthood.  We talk everyday just about.  She has found a fondness of my companionship but I’m still not sure how fond she is of ME lol.  She will always favor my brothers & put them on a pedestal & treat them differently.  And occasionally it frustrates the crap out of me but overall I just accept that this is how it is, I accept her and have some understanding of why things are the way they are. My dad died when i was in my early 20’s, we had JUST started to have a more pleasant dynamic.  I had let go of a lot of resentment and was able to start just accepting him for his good and bad parts, and enjoy the good ones again.  It would have been nice to have more time with that next era of our relationship but unfortunately we weren’t afforded that.  I miss him & that lost opportunity a lot.

Good for you to have come to where you are today.  We don’t all start at the same starting line.  Some of us start 5′ behind, some 10′ or 50′ or 100′.  Not all of us ever catch up.  I am proud of making it through from where I started.  You should be too.  

 

Post # 5
Member
406 posts
Helper bee

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devi514:  You’re actually really spot on with your assumption that a toxic parental figure usually preceeds other toxic relationships. Growing up, we aquire what is a more or less “learned amount of disfunction.” In short, our relationship temperatures are set at a certain rate, and if they aren’t as disfuctional as we’re used to, then we tend to purposefully go and make our relationships chaotic or purposefully choose people who are disfuctional.

Luckily, you can break out of this (and you have – horray)! Though it does often take many years. Most people never learn to readjust their relationship temperature.

Post # 6
Member
7975 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

Whilst there is some evidence that having a toxic parent can affect future relationships, the effect is generally worse when it is the opposite sex parent who is toxic. This is supposedly because we subconsciously use our parents’ relationship as a model for our own future relationships, and subconsciously model our future partners on our primary, opposite gendered role model (in the case of heterosexual people, anyway).

I have seen people who were greatly affected by this, such as one friend who had a completely absent father and a mother she did not get on with. However, my brother and I are both happily married, despite having a highly toxic mother and a father who worked very long hours whilst we were growing up. I’m not saying that it didn’t affect us… we both had very few romantic relationships and, whilst we had plenty of good friends, we have never truly trusted them with our innermost opinions, thought, and secrets. That’s not to say that we were paranoid… not at all… it’s just that we both learned from an early age that the only person who will look after you and be there for you when things are at their worst is YOU. Nobody else is coming to rescue you, to feed you, to help you in any way. That knowledge has certainly flavoured my own relationship, and I know that DH thinks it’s very sad that I think this way, but it is what it is.

If you’ve ever read I’m OK, You’re OK you might find you relate to the stereotypes in it. Basically there are three stereotypes discussed… the healthy one, in which a child learns that “I’m OK, and you’re OK”, and the two negative types: “You’re OK, I’m not OK” which is the one I feel OP might relate to, and “I’m OK, you’re not OK” which is definitely the message I grew up with (this is actually the rarest attitude, apparently). Each can have different influences upon one’s psyche.

Post # 8
Member
1336 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

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watcherofthestars:  I love the temperature analogy!  Spot on.  It’s what I tried to say in my post about the starting line & playing catch up.  But the temperature is much better, I’m remembering that one!

Post # 10
Member
7975 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

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devi514:  “I am constantly wondering if things are off, if the other “shoe is about to drop”.”

Funny, but my brother and I had almost this exact same conversation. He also said “I’ll date this lovely woman, and things will be going great, but on some level I’ll always be thinking that there’s something wrong with her, and waiting for the moment she’ll turn into a psycho”.

Letting that go takes time, and on some level you also have to realise that you’ll be OK no matter what happens (even if your partner does turn out to be a psycho… although that is unlikely!), because having a hard time as a kid makes you bloody tough… you do everything for yourself, so you become very capable from a very early age. The thing is to realise and believe this!

Post # 11
Member
1311 posts
Bumble bee

Interesting topic! I believe having a toxic parent can affect you if you let it AND depends on your level of confidence and self worth. My mom was/is an alcoholic, had multiple affairs, I caught her sneaking out at night to meet men, and one time she told me (after I confronted her for drinking), “it’s either I drink or cut myself.” It was very traumatizing but my father is a very strong person and I don’t know what I would’ve done (or how I would’ve turned out) without him.

I’m very normal now: college graduate, stable relationship, own a house, applying for masters programs, am in a loving and healthy relationship, I drink alcohol maybe twice per year, am good with money, and more. My sister, on the other hand, was very affected by my mother. My sister graduated high school, no college, and has probably held 20+ jobs since. She had severe drug addiction problems and alcoholism, she even went to the psych ward (threatening to kill herself) and then rehab. She’s been arrested a few times and is generally unstable. She’s been with abusive men, already been engaged once (her ex is in prison now) and more.

I think a lot of it also boils down to, my sister has always been close to my mom and defended her, whereas I’ve always been Team Dad. My sister has also always been babied by my mom and has always had confidence and esteem issues, whereas I never had that problem.

So yeah, I think some people are more susceptible to ‘ending up like a toxic parent’ but it’s definitely depends on a lot of other factors.

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