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What if you are the toxic person?

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This topic contains 291 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  anita 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #225077

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    he now sent me a message, that he got home late yesterday, so he couldn’t respond. Maybe I overreacted. Often I worry too much and it has happened before that I got completely self-conscious over a comment, that was meant for somebody else.

    But it also seemed weird to me that he didn’t take my phone call and didn’t call back or anything after that. It was only two days. I guess I’m just too insecure?

    I responded to his message by asking him if he wants to go for a walk sometime and if we go, I want to suggest to take it a little slower. To rather cook something together, go swimming or watch a movie or do something else he might suggest.

    It is possible that I was sometimes punished unjustly as a child. Even my mother used to say that my sister was my father’s favourite.

    My main problem with my parents was religion. They are very religious, my father is a pastor. So of course, as the pastor’s child you had to go to church and be a good example. But I started to doubt religion very early.

    Plus, my parents grew up in the German Democratic Republic. For religious reasons, they didn’t want to join the Free German Youth. That meant that they couldn’t pursue a higher education. Life wasn’t always easy for them and I admire them for their strength to stay true to their beliefs.

    Still, you cannot believe in something just to please others.

    We had a lot of conflicts because of this. My parents told me that, as this is my fathers job, I need to play along. When I didn’t want to be confirmed, they pressured me to do it until I gave in. I also wasn’t allowed to choose ethics class in school instead of religious studies (Pupils of a certain age were allowed to choose for themselves). Things like that.

    My parents were also quite close minded. I remember my father showing me a book about Hinduism (or some other religion) telling me that this belonged into the “closet of poison” (I don’t know how to translate that properly…). They were outspokenly against horoscopes or new age things.

    This close mindedness turned me off so badly and I wanted to be nothing like that. I always enjoyed learning about different cultures and other ways of thinking. Later I studied Cultural Anthroplogy (Ethnology).

    They also forbade me to watch certain movies. I liked horror movies and for example the TV series “Buffy”. But I watched them anyways, in secret. My cousin recorded them for me.

    I stopped asking my parents for permission for certain things. For example I just dyed my hair or went out late at night (though this didn’t happen frequently as I’m not a party – person anyways).

    The nature of my parents attacks: they guilt – tripped me I guess? When I didn’t like to eat a certain food, my mother used to say “think of the poor children in Africa”. Or when my siblings fought she said “there is war everywhere in the word, we don’t need war at home”. Or of course that, if a pastor’s daughter doesn’t go to church frequently, “What will the people say?”

    And their attacks included verbal and physical attacks.

    And I fought back in secret, by doing forbidden things. But I also verbally told them what I didn’t want to do, or even that I hated them. Or later, if they hit me, I hit them back…

    Anita, thank you for always responding. You even read through old posts! You take so much time and effort to help others, it is so inspiring! I hope you take good care of yourself. THANK YOU!

     

    #225081

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    I will be able to read and respond to your most recent post when I return to the computer in about 15 hours.

    anita

    #225149

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome and thank you for your kind words, for your appreciation of me.

    I understand and agree with what your parents told you here, “that, as this is my father’s job, I need to play along”. It makes sense that as a pastor, the congregation needs to see that his child (as a minor, living at home) attends his services.

    I like very much this statement that your mother made: “there is war everywhere in the world, we don’t need war at home”. I agree, but wish she included “their (parents’) attacks.. verbal and physical attacks” in that war she mentioned, not allowing those in her home!

    Your parents and I share some disbeliefs: I don’t believe in all the religions that they don’t believe in (as well as the one they do believe in). And I think it is okay for parents to select what movies their children will watch.

    I am impressed that you have let your parents know that you don’t believe in what they believe, that you reject their religion as your way of life, and I am impressed that you “verbally told them what (you) didn’t want to do”.

    Do you know why you were able to tell your parents what you didn’t want to do, but you don’t tell men what you don’t want to do, that is, why you go along with whatever they want, whenever they want it, as if you don’t matter?

    anita

     

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 1 week ago by  anita.
    #225361

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    to some extent I agree with you, that as a pastor’s child it looks better if the child attends services. But the problem is, my parents did not sit down and explain this to me calmly. They didn’t accept my religious doubts and just wanted to pressure me to be religious again. I don’t feel like they tried to see my side. My mother to this day sends me religious books and calendars (it’s not really a problem – but still, it shows she doesn’t accept my decision).

    So much time and energy of my childhood was spent fighting for my religious freedom… And the freedom to be who I am.

    I also agree that it is okay for parents to watch over the movies their child watches. I was mentioning this more as one of the forms I used to resist my parents. But they also took it too far sometimes. For example, they wouldn’t let me watch Sailor Moon because they claimed it was tied to Munism? I just couldn’t take this seriously, even as a child. It was just too much…

    And that they condemned other religions just made it worse for me. I don’t care what someone does or doesn’t believe in. You are not better or worse just because you believe or don’t believe in a religion. At the end of the day, we are all humans. I can’t stand the arrogance of wanting to convert others… Or belittling someones religion as mere superstition, while thinking your religion is the only right one…

    Why do I have problems saying no to men? I don’t only have this problem with men. Also with colleagues or friends.

    I think I could tell my parents my opinion, because I was very sure of it. But I was probably not exactly nice about it. I also wasn’t able to see their side at the time to be honest. Back then I was different, I guess? A teenager and sometimes arrogant. But I also stood up for myself more, even if it wasn’t always in the best way. I believed in myself more, I thought I was a “fighter”. Sometimes I feel less passionate now. But sometimes people still say about me that I have inner strength. And I think I do? I think if I truly believe in something, I will stand up for it. But I can also be very weak and I have lost faith in myself, because I haven’t accomplished that much.

    But at least, in the last month or so I was feeling a little better. Hopefully therapy can help me more and that someday I can accept myself better.

    #225371

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    You wrote: “my parents did not sit down and explain this to me calmly”- they  should have.

    “I don’t feel like they (parents) tried to see my side… I also wasn’t able to see their side at the time”- it was their job to see your side, not your job to see theirs.

    “So much time and energy of my childhood was spent fighting for my religious freedom… And the freedom to be who I am” – it is admirable that you fought for your religious freedom and you did set yourself free from your parents this way. I hope you also fight for your freedom to say No to men and to everyone else in your life.

    “I think if I truly believe in something, I will stand up for  it”- I do hope you believe  in yourself as the worthy person that you are and make sure you accept respectful behavior from  others, nothing less. When you accept and accommodate others’ disrespect for you, you accept that arrogance and belittling that you referred to in a different context (“can’t stand the arrogance of wanting to convert others… Or belittling someone’s religion..”)

    I am glad you are feeling better and hope your therapy continues to be helpful to you. Please do  post again with your thoughts, feelings and life experiences any time you’d like.

    anita

     

     

    #226257

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    thank you for your advice at always. Do you know it has helped me many times? I hope you are doing okay too.

    Yesterday I talked to my therapist about my childhood. My parents did not respect my choices very much and if I had another opinion they didn’t accept it. They wanted me to submit to their rules and if I didn’t want it, I was the bad one.

    Maybe this is also why I have such a hard time telling people what I want or to say no to them. With this new relationship I started, so far I haven’t succeeded very well. Trying to be in a relationship is hard and I have to constantly overcome my fears. But I want to try harder, because at the end of the day I have nothing to lose. I could only end up alone and I already know what that is like. And I also really like this person, so I would like to get to know him more.

    I think this therapy is helping me. The new therapist seems to understand me and really care. But I have a long way to go, still.

    Well. I guess I just wanted to give a little update and say thank you again.

    #226291

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    You are welcome and thank you for your kind words and wish that I am okay. I am.

    You wrote: “They (your parents) wanted me to submit to their rules and if I didn’t want it, I was the bad one”, so you learned that to assert yourself means you are a bad person, to submit to another means you are a good person.

    A child wants nothing more than the parent’s approval and will adjust to what it means. Problem is submitting to others as a way of life brings misery. It is not an effective way to live. But when trying to be assertive we do have to  overcome the fear of being a bad person, which meant as a child, to be rejected by the parent.

    There is nothing a child fears more than being rejected by her parent.

    You wrote, “Trying to be in a relationship is hard and I have to constantly overcome my fears. But I want to try harder, because at the end of the day I have nothing to lose. I could only end up alone and I already know what that is like”- excellent thinking, clear and true to reality.

    I hope to read from you again and again, anytime you would like to post here, I will be glad to read and reply to you.

    anita

    #227587

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    thank you for your reply as always.

    I think I take those problems into my existing relationships. It is really hard for me to tell others what I want or to tell them what I don’t want or what I don’t find o.K.

    Yesterday I tried to talk to the new person I met (boyfriend?) about contraception. Because it concerns me that he wanted to have unprotected sex. Last week he even said “I want to have a baby with you”. At first I just responded with “It’s too early for that. Maybe someday.” But then I thought more about it and found it weird that he said this after knowing me for less than a month. Was this just an invitation for unprotected sex??? I mean, which man likes to bring up children, especially if you just met someone new. Or maybe he just wanted to know my thoughts on having children later on… I don’t know.

    What I told him yesterday was, that I don’t think it’s good that he wanted to have unprotected sex without even knowing me properly or talking about the topic. I also said that we don’t have that much money and also, what about STDs?

    After talking to him, I felt like I had made a mistake. I think I didn’t find the right words, I also got too nervous and my voice got high pitched and child like. He apologized to me (which I hadn’t intended… the idea was more to have a conversation… not to make him feel bad) and said he accepts this. Then he hugged me and we just were lying next to each other for a while (clothed…). But I still felt nervous. Then he went to meet one of his friends.

    Now I worry that I might have lectured him too much. Or that I made him feel bad, like he has STDs? Or something? I just don’t understand how someone can be so carefree about this topic. But I also didn’t want to patronize him… And it also didn’t really work. No real conversation happened. I’m really bad at this. Maybe I’m just not ready for a relationship?

    Soon he will also go to another city to study and he will be only here for the weekends. I wonder what will happen then. He said we can still meet… I don’t know. Everything happened too fast.

    #227603

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    When he said “I want to have a baby with you”, I think he meant something like: I want to have sex with you! That is all.

    Don’t underestimate a young man’s sexual need, this need drives a lot of what a young man says when feeling that need. So when trying to figure out what a man meant saying this or that, think: was he feeling sexual when he said what he said. If the answer is yes, then the interpretation of what he said is simple.

    I think it is a good thing that you brought up the STD issue, absolutely. The reason he may be interested in unprotected sex is simply because it feels better for him. Of course you don’t want to pay that high price for him feeling better by getting infected and/ or infecting another.

    Better yet, have no sex with him at all. The conditions are not right for that to take place. The communication is not that great, there is no meeting of the minds yet, too much guessing on your part, and he is about to move away.

    You are not here on this earth to satisfy men’s sexual needs. You are here to love-and-be-loved, to understand and be understood, to respect and be respected. Without what I italicized here, sex is not a good idea, I believe.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 3 weeks ago by  anita.
    #227625

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    I don’t know if he was feeling sexual. That day I was sick. We were just talking, it was actually really nice. He was laying with his head on my lap and I was caressing his face…. For me it was clear that we were not going to have sex. The next day he wanted to come over to sleep at my place (I think he meant without sex?) after he came back from meeting his friends. As I was feeling sick, I communicated that I don’t want him to come over that day. He also would had arrived at about 2 am and maybe I’m boring, but that’s too late for me. And then I met him again yesterday.

    Maybe I don’t trust him enough? He does seem to be a good person. He works really hard and is so focused on his goals (I would like to be more like that too!). He’s also really affectionate and never does anything against my will. He tells me about his plans for the future. His sister is my flatmate (in my current dormitory), but I don’t know her that well . But she also seems to be a good person and very hardworking. I think he also told her about me. Once I met her and she smiled at me in a way that makes me think he talked to her about me. He also knew something about me that she must have told him (that I spend a lot of time alone). So those are reasons that make me think he is trustworthy.

    But I have a hard time trusting him. I find it hard to believe that someone like him would like me. I’m also 5 years older than him. I guess I look good, but I’m difficult, don’t have my life together and am old… Aside from compliments on my looks he said that he likes about me that I’m so nice and that I like people… And that I’m a good person.

    Maybe he is genuine and I am too distrustful by sometimes suspecting he just wants sex?

    I don’t know. I don’t know what he is thinking. He has a lot of things going on. His work, his friends, his family, his studies. Even when we meet he sometimes talks to one of his aunts on the phone. I wonder if there is even room for me in his life.

    In comparison, my life feels empty and boring. But actually I like it a bit calmer. But sometimes I feel ashamed when I tell him that I have mostly been painting on a day. (Sometimes I get even less done 🙁 )

    Am I very stupid for having sex with him so quickly? It wasn’t very well thought through and I also lost control a little bit. That was actually something I didn’t want to do. I wanted to wait until I get to know a person better. But I seem to repeat my mistakes. Dating flatmates (he was living with his sister for the summer) is definetely not a good idea for me. It makes it much harder to establish my boundaries.

    Maybe it really better not to have sex with him until I get to know him better. But it will also be hard to get to know him better, sice he is going away this week.

    #227639

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    You wrote, “I don’t know what he is thinking”- this is why you should ask and get to know him otherwise, listen, observe, take your time. Only he is leaving soon and there will be less time.

    For as long as you believe that you are less-than, less than the man and less than other women, you will continue to be inclined to accommodate a man’s sexual interest when he expresses it, not when it is wise for you to engage in such. There is also your own need for physical contact, to be touched, as well as a sexual need, that is playing a part in what happens.

    Complicated, isn’t it? I would say, getting to know a man before having sex is a good idea, a very good idea. He may be as good and trustworthy of a man as you think he is, but get to know him more, make sure that he is those things you think he is.

    He may be trustworthy but too busy and unavailable, also to consider.

    anita

    #228823

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    today I met with this man and we went to eat. I think he is a really good person. He tells me about his plans and how he took responsibility for himself and his siblings from an early age on. I wish I could be like that myself. In comparison I feel very childlike and broken. I really want to get my life together. But why wasn’t I able to do it so far? People my age usually have their careers more figured out and are financially independent. But I guess it doesn’t help to compare. It will help to try harder.

    Maybe I first have to sort out my mental health problems. I don’t know if I have enough to offer to him… I think he deserves a truly amazing person. He thinks I’m a good person ( he said it again yesterday on the phone). But I have so many flaws and he will probably be disappointed when he gets to know me better. Sometimes I wonder if I act “holier than thou”, so that people think I’m like that? But I’m just very flawed. Once I told my old therapist that I want to be a good person, and she asked if I want to be a saint? I don’t want to give this impression, like I’m all innocent or perfect? I especially don’t want to give others the impression that I’m somehow more “good” or “innocent” than them. I would like to be more human and authentic.

    In the past (especially in the last half year) many of my friendships failed, like I explained earlier on this thread. This really makes me doubt my ability to be a good friend or partner. Why did I behave like this? In the future I want to rather address problems with people, than just stop calling them. I do really regret this. Maybe I was just lazy. It was uncomfortable. And also, when I feel bad about myself, I have a tendency to isolate myself. I only stayed in contact with very close people.

    I’m very scared that I will hurt him in the future. Or that I will be a burden to him (or anybody). That’s why I really want to improve.

     

    #228853

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    “People my age usually have their careers more figured out and are financially independent”- not in my experience. Imagine this: a person is bent over, so his/ her stature is short. Because of that she looks up to everyone else, thinking they are all giants. In a similar way, you think so little of yourself that everyone else seems so much more than you are.

    Truth is, you are not inferior, you only feel this way. Others are not superior, they only appear that way to you.

    “I don’t know if I have enough to offer to him”- I know that you do have enough to offer him. I think you are that “truly amazing person”, you just don’t know that yet.

    “I have so many flaws and he will probably be disappointed”- when you find out that he has flaws too, you will feel better about your own, because you will not be the only one. When he sees your flaws, he will feel better about his own. If you were perfect, he would feel like he is the only one flawed (not a good feeling, as you know).

    “I especially don’t want to give others the impression that I’m somehow more ‘good’ or ‘innocent’ than them”- I think you give others the impression that you believe that you are less than them, not more than them.

    I wish you felt and gave the impression to others that you are equal to them, not less and not more.

    Best you can, see to  it that people don’t take advantage of your feeling less than them and that you are hurting them when you are not. If a person is inclined to prey on others, all he has to say is: Lily, you are hurting me by saying no to me. If you want to not hurt me, say Yes to this and Yes that! Or they will do what they want with you not asking you permission, even ignore your No, like the man in the dormitories did.

    Be careful, do not make yourself available to those who prey on others’ low self esteem and distorted sense of responsibility.

    I hope this current man is a decent man, but be aware, keep your eyes open so to distinguish when a person respects you and when a person disrespects you. I assure you: you deserve respect. Expect it, demand it, and if you don’t get it, disengage from the person.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 7 months, 2 weeks ago by  anita.
    #229071

    Lily
    Participant

    Dear anita,

    thanks for your response. It encouraged me a little.

    Of course, other people have problems too. I need to stop focusing so much on my flaws and try to build my confidence. Writing helps, I think. Maybe I should start writing daily.

    This attempt of a relationship makes me feel so insecure. It’s hard for me to believe that anyone could actually like me. It can’t be real. I’m always waiting for him to tell me that he wants to end it. Probably not the best conditions for a healthy relationship.

    After meeting him I lost my balance a little. I was often waiting to meet him and even returned home earlier than I normally would have on some occasions. And I didn’t get that much done. So I felt very boring and strange.

    Now I want to focus on myself more again. Actually I have a lot of interests, but I need to actually engage in them more. Maybe this will make me feel better about myself. But in therapy we also talked about how self worth doesn’t have to be tied to accomplishments. You can base it on your values, relationships or even your looks… It’s hard for me to distance myself from that belief that I’m not good enough because I’m not productive enough or haven’t accomplished enough.

    I wish I could accept myself more. It’s probably the key to everything else that doesn’t work out. But how do I start? On some days I can even feel good about myself and I know that I have some talents. But on other days I hate myself so much. Sometimes I wish somebody could hit me or punish me.

    It is true that people could take advantage of me… But I don’t think that man is like that. He seems to be very respectful to everyone he meets. I really think he is a good person. He also always asks if I’m okay, also when it comes to sex. He doesn’t pressure me. But I still sometimes said that it is okay, when I was feeling unsure or didn’t enjoy it that much. I guess I should try to be more honest. But it’s the hardest thing for me to say no to others. Maybe if I get to know him better I will relax more.

    The only thing I don’t like that much is that he often takes phone calls and talks to the callers for a few minutes, while we meet. Or he looks as his smartphone. I guess it’s normal in our day and age, but I find it kind of sad. If someone called me, I would just say that I will call again later? He is very social and connected to his family, which is good for him. But at the same time, if I’m meeting with a person, I want to spend the time with them, not think about others, that are far away… It seems to me that everyone wants something from him and he wants to help everyone. So maybe he has similar problems like me…

    And I also wonder if there is even space for me in his life…

    But I guess I have to just see how it goes. I should probably try to worry a little less about all that. On the positive side, I wouldn’t have even gone on a date with someone a few years earlier. If someone expressed any form of interest in me, I would have run and hidden away. So it’s seems I’m making slow progress?

    #229145

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lily:

    “So it seems I’m making slow progress?”

    Yes, you are making progress. And in these matters, there is only one kind of progress and that is a slow progress.

    You left your parents’ religion, you don’t believe in what they believe, in what the people going to their church believe, correct? You know that it is possible for a person to believe something that is not true. In the same way, you too believe something that is not true and that is that you are unworthy, less than. Undeserving, too flawed. This feels true to you, just as religion feels true to others. But it is not true.

    It feels true but it is not true in reality.

    Not everything we believe to be true is indeed true. Like you I too believed that I was unworthy, less than, undeserving, too flawed. None of these beliefs were true to reality, I found out, after decades of believing these things. To think of al the years wasted believing these things… the dysfunction that resulted, the poor choices I made, or let others (supposedly more qualified people) to make for me.

    You too can change these beliefs so to make them true to reality. It takes time and work, effective psychotherapy is the way to do it, when such is available.

    “Sometimes I wish somebody could hit me or punish me”- because you believe those things about yourself (including being toxic, in the title of your thread), you get angry at yourself. But you don’t deserve any hitting or punishment. You deserve gentleness and respect.

    What if you asked the man to not answer his phone while he is with you?

    anita

     

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