One of the “mixed blessings” that can come with midlife is perspective. Experience. Being able to call a spade a spade. Spot a fake a mile off. Acquiring the fine art of telling someone to go to hell in such a way that they enjoy the trip.
The flip side of the mix is when all that experience and perspective feels useless. Cuz you have to shut up.
Like when your grown kiddo is stuck in a toxic situation and lacks the background or experience to recognize it. Or know how to get out of it.
But you do.
You’ve been around long enough to read the tea leaves. Know that “Toxics” are uber controlling. Manipulate people, events, and circumstances to get their way. Specialize in minoring on the majors. Making mountains out of molehills. Make you question and/or second-guess yourself if you question them or wonder about their motives. Oh, and whatever they’re peeved about, it’s Always Your Fault.
Says Karen Young in Toxic People: 12 Things They Do and How to Deal With Them:
Their damage lies in their subtlety and the way they can engender that classic response, ‘It’s not them, it’s me.’ They can have you questioning your ‘over-reactiveness’, your ‘oversensitivity’, your ‘tendency to misinterpret’. If you’re the one who’s continually hurt, or the one who is constantly adjusting your own behaviour to avoid being hurt, then chances are that it’s not you and it’s very much them.
When you spot Toxics 101 trying to pump their mental and emotional poison into your grown loved one, you may think: Do I say something? Step in. Smack the offender upside the head with the U.S.S. Enterprise? Or maybe: You cursed brat:
You want to help. Offer advice. Suggestions. An escape pod. The Third Army. Round trip tickets to the South of France. The South Pole. Or the dark side of the moon.
But they’re not in a place to hear it. Or receive it. So all you can do is wait. On Red Alert. Set phasers to stun.
I was in this situation recently. I detected the noxious fumes spiraling out of Chez Toxic at world record pace. But my loved one couldn’t or wouldn’t see the menu clearly to save their life. Not even when Chef Toxicia was dishing out venom like a pit viper on steroids.
It took awhile, but Chez Toxic is no longer open for business. Without my having to call in Mr. Spock. Or the Third Army.
Meanwhile, just call me Mama Grizzly. ‘Specially if you’re messin’ with my cub.
Now. Where’d I put that bucket?
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Photo credit: Metal Bucket Wikimedia Commons