Author Topic: "I am not discussing this."  (Read 6425 times)

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NyaChan

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"I am not discussing this."
« on: December 27, 2012, 04:58:57 PM »
I gained a little weight this semester, by little I mean 5-6 lbs.  I am very aware that those pounds weigh heavily on me :P and make me look worse than those extra pounds would have at another starting weight as it went to all the wrong places.  I did have to supplement my formal wardrobe to accommodate the change while I was at school and unable to do much to reverse the weight gain.  I had already started working on getting rid of it once I came home for winter break when I went to visit my uncle.  My grandma lives with my Uncle and is to him and his family Toxic.  In my opinion, she is close to Toxic to my family as well, but less so than she is to my Uncle.  I have not spent as much time with Uncle and his family as the Toxic grandma caused a serious rift between my mom and her brother which has only recently started to mend.  Spending time with them now means I have to deal with grandma as well.

My cousin is very into working out and going to the gym.  My other cousin who is a girl and my age has recently started getting into working out as her awesome metabolism has started slowing down, causing weight gain.  My grandma was making PA comments to me while everyone was talking and I tried my best to ignore them or beandip them even though my mom has instructed her very clearly that she is not to speak to me or my sister about our weight.  "Aren't there any gyms like cousin's near where you go to school?"  "Doesn't your school have a gym?  Don't you have access to the gym?"  While I was serving myself dinner she'd make comments like, "Take more chicken and less bread" or "This dish only has a little oil in it."  I was standing talking to my uncle and cousin at the kitchen counter later on and she came over with flyers and put them down.  After a random question to cousin to justify her being there with the flyers - "Is this flyer for a grocery store?"  ::)  She then starts tapping on a flyer for a gym while looking at me significantly.  I ignored her again.  She left with the flyers - all except the one for the gym.  I ignored her because if I took issue to her comments or showed that she was upsetting me, it would likely cause more trouble between her and my Uncle - who later sat me down to discuss my weight gain on his own anyways  :-[ , a whole 'nother story - as he would see it as more proof of her toxicity if I got upset.  I was also trying to be on my best behavior because I've never really lived down my bad personality from when I was younger, though I feel personally that I have changed and improved a lot.     

I guess my silence or apparent dumbness to the point she was trying to get across emboldened her, because the minute she found me sitting alone without anyone else around, she plopped right down to chat about it.  After a few of her patented lead-in innocent questions, she started in on lecturing me about my cousins going to the gym and I should go to the gym and so on and so forth- as soon as I was sure that she was talking about my weight, I cut her off saying "I am not discussing this."  She keeps going.  "I am not discussing this."  She keeps going.  Louder this time, "I am not discussing this." This happened at least two more times, and then I picked up my things and left the room.  Problem solved.  After my Uncle's intervention, I was feeling really low and texted my friend, who I had been turning to for support during the weekend and supporting her through her family get together as well.  I was feeling like a walking elephant or something and excusing their words thinking that maybe I looked significantly bad such that a comment may have been from a place of concern for my health, but she put me straight saying that she saw me before I left for home, yes I had gained weight, but nothing anywhere near the level that might prompt such a reaction from these relatives.  I think that is the only thing that got me through the rest of the visit.   

I don't think I would have had the courage or the know-how to firmly but (I hope) politely stand up for myself and enforce my boundaries with my grandmother, but for the time I've spent here on ehell.  I hope I did ok, and would appreciate critique on how I might have done better, but even if I messed up, I still feel better for having done something for myself after years of being put down this way from all the relatives on my dad's side and even some on my mom's.     

Venus193

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2012, 05:28:32 PM »
I would have left the even from the dinner table.  You are an adult and have the right to not put up with any of this.

As for your "bad personality" from your younger years, if that was because you objected to this kind of treatment, I wouldn't worry about it.  Your grandmother is toxic and you have the right to either defend yourself or walk away from an escalating bully attack from her.

mrkitty

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2012, 05:34:11 PM »
I don't know, but my first reaction would probably be to ask Grandma if she was offering to pay for the gym membership as a gift? And if she said no and continued on, I'd probably then say "have a good evening" and move along.

If that still didn't work, I'd think about going to my parents and asking them to keep grandma away from me. And I'd reconsider going to visit with grandma there.

I'll have to think about it some more, but on first blush, this would be my immediate reaction. I'm so sorry you are dealing with this.

How long have you been in college? Because it's typical for freshmen to gain at least 15 pounds that first year. It's called the Freshman 15.

Go to school long enough, you'll burn it off. Trust me. Stress and starvation have that effect on people. Ok, not everyone. It happened to me. And then I gained it all back and then some because that isn't healthy. Now I have a really hard time losing any weight.

Also, it's crazy that your grandma is on you about your weight. Not that I don't believe it, but most grandmothers (that I've known) always complain their grandchildren don't eat enough - of their delicious cooking.

I don't think you deserve this treatment. I would stay away from grandma at all costs. And if there's a scene to be made, it's her doing, not yours. I think it sounds like the rest of your family's got her number.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 05:37:04 PM by mrkitty »
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Amava

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #3 on: December 27, 2012, 05:48:37 PM »
I don't know, but my first reaction would probably be to ask Grandma if she was offering to pay for the gym membership as a gift? And if she said no and continued on, I'd probably then say "have a good evening" and move along.

What if she said yes, though?

mrkitty

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2012, 06:34:42 PM »
I don't know, but my first reaction would probably be to ask Grandma if she was offering to pay for the gym membership as a gift? And if she said no and continued on, I'd probably then say "have a good evening" and move along.

What if she said yes, though?


I was really hoping nobody would ask that because I don't have a good answer.  ;)

I suppose OP could take her up on it, but I don't recommend that; that would open a whole new can of worms - and give grandma a whole new reason to be a controlling toxic mess.

I was sort of hoping that by calling her bluff, it would make grandma shut up, but then again I have never seen that work in real life. She might well offer to pay for it and then where would the OP be? So, bad idea.

I guess the best answer, NyaChan, would be to discuss this with your parents and make sure they know how difficult this situation is for you and the harm it is doing to your self-esteem. Would they be in a position to help you? From how you describe the family dynamic, it sounds like the culture in your family is such that younger people defer to more senior ones - on everything - and that even if an older relative is harassing a younger one, the parents of the victim really have nothing to say about it - is that true?

If that's the case, then probably the best response is just to be consistent about saying "this is not up for discussion" and then get up and leave the room - every.single.time. And if anyone tries to call you out for "being difficult" then you can have a discussion with THEM about enabling the abuse your grandma is subjecting you to.

From what you say about your family in your original post, it sounds to me like everyone is aware how toxic grandma is. Maybe they would be open to helping you deal with the situation? Maybe just having and honest heart-to-heart talk with your family might help them understand the difficulty here, and help intervene?

I hope things get better for you, NyaChan. It sounds really hard, and I can relate because my family was seriously dysfunctional - I have a lot of compassion for your situation. I wish I could give you some advice that would make all this better immediately, but I never got the memo on that. If I ever do, I'll forward you a copy.  ;D
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Danika

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2012, 06:20:42 AM »
...I can relate because my family was seriously dysfunctional - I have a lot of compassion for your situation...

POD

NyaChan, you are right. Your grandmother is toxic. And those in the family who allow her to treat you and others that way are enablers. Kudos to you for seeing this at a college-age. I was several years out of college before I learned that this was not normal behavior and I didn't have to put up with it and "respect my elders" by being treated like a doormat.

You behaved impeccably. You were very patient and classy. The only advice I could add is to avoid toxic grandma like the plague in the future.

First of all, 5-6lbs is nothing. I hoped not to gain the freshman 15 my first semester of college. But my mother is very very much like your grandmother. I starved myself in high school and with my lousy metabolism, I was still only in just a healthy weight range, not thin. Without my  mother around to badger me in college, I gained 30 lbs the first semester.

Second, personally, I was in college to get an education. Sure, it would have been nice to have been healthy too. But I was there for a degree, as I assume you are too. No one can be perfect in all areas of life. To me, spending time with my books was more important than spending time at the gym.

But regardless of the topic, your grandmother is rude, mean, condescending and toxic. And if you had lost 5lbs, you would have been mocked for being too thin. Or grandmother would have mocked your hairstyle, haircolor, clothing, height of your forehead, how far your ears stick out, how much or how little you talk... you get the point.

Hindsight is 20/20. I was in your shoes at your age with a similar family. Now that I'm in my mid-30s, I have given the cut direct to most of my family members because many of them are like your grandmother. Most of the rest are doormats and enablers who just want to keep the other doormats in line so they're not the only ones being targeted for abuse.

I say you should refuse to go to any gatherings that toxic grandmother is at in the future. The only way I'd go at all would be if your parents are paying for your schooling and threaten to kick you out or not pay tuition. And in those cases, I'd drive separately, and I'd leave the event altogether the instant toxic grandmother started being passive-aggressive. Or if you have to drive together, bring a good book and return to the car and sit there until the others are ready to leave.

And because I've heard from the other enablers and know what they'll say, I'll tell you in advance, you refusing to put up with grandmother's abuse - and that's what it is: abuse - is not "too sensitive" or an "overreaction."

Jones

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2012, 08:11:44 AM »
I dunno if this is appropriate?

Uncle or Gramma: Blah blah fat blah blah work out.
NyaChan: I'm not discussing this.
Badgering continues
NyaChan: Oh dear, is your hearing failing you that badly? You need to get that checked. I distinctly said I wasn't discussing this.

Just Lori

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2012, 08:37:22 AM »
Do you have a way to get home if you get up and leave?

I'm seething for everyone on this board who has to deal with "well-intentioned" relatives who are "concerned" about their weight (quotation marks are intentional sarcasm.)  Nobody has to put up with this abuse.  I don't care if you had a "bad personality" when you were younger.  Even Nellie Oleson grew up and was deserving of love and acceptance (and Percival.)

I say you have a good friend ready to pick you up (or cab fare in your pocket) and you just get up and leave.  You are an adult, and you have every right to demand to be retreated with respect.  Respectful adults don't lecture each other about weight issues unless advice has been solicited.  Period. 

My husband's family believes a person's worth is inversely proportional to what they weigh.  The less you weigh, the more you're worth.  And they wonder why we don't want them to join us at the beach.  ::)

Editeer

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2012, 07:26:10 PM »
You did a great job! Congratulations! It gets easier the more you do it.

NyaChan

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2012, 02:39:00 AM »
Actually mrkitty, I graduated from undergrad about 2+ years ago, & am now finishing up law school.  So freshman 15 is a thing of the past for me thankfully.  This gain was a result of an unexpected change in my workload at the end of the semester which cut out all my meal planning time for shopping & cooking.  Eating out, eating quick, and oftentimes, eating very late = increase in poundage for me. 

As for playing the , "oh are you going to pay for it?" card, it wouldn't really apply here as my grandma knows very well that I do have access to a gym at school and access to 2 gyms at home.  When she asks if I have access to a gym, she is PA-ly saying, "You need to go to the gym" and "You need to lose weight." 

I think posters are right in saying that I should enforce my boundaries consistently and not just when we are alone.  There are some limits to how I can do that simply because of the cultural complications and also the fact that my grandma has a large number of people convinced that she is the victim of cruel and unfeeling children who treat her shamefully & I refuse to let her make us look even worse in public.  That said, I'm not going to hold back when we are amongst family members - as was pointed out, they do know what she is like already.

I actually spoke with my mom recently about the trip.  I had stayed behind for a few days while my parents went home from Uncle's early so she hadn't been present for most of these incidents.  I had hinted through text that grandma was bothering me about my weight though.  When we spoke she was actually supportive of me telling grandma no & leaving.  When I was trying to give grandma the benefit of the doubt by theorizing that maybe in my grandma's mind she really thinks this topic is somehow her business, my mom surprisingly said that I was giving her too much credit and admitted that grandma does say things at times simply to be malicious (big step!).  Mom also disclosed that she called grandma to tell her off on the last night I was at Uncle's which explains why I didn't get any backlash from grandma the next day.  Usually I would get a tearful, almost hysterical lecture about respecting one's elders and how she is going to die soon and reminding me of all she's ever done for me.  Guess grandma's burned her bridges because even my dad (who doesn't know about the digs she was making) was expressing upset today over the way she has been treating him. My dad usually never says a word about her in front of us kids out of respect for her age, but mostly to protect my mom's feelings. 

I don't believe that she will ever change, all I can really do is figure out what I can handle.  Cutting her off is not an option - if she were a more distant relative, maybe I could get away with it.  Since she is my grandma and lives with relatives I do need to have a relationship with, I will have to make do with ignoring her phone calls and just keeping her at arms length when I am in the same place as her.  I've made numerous requests of my mom to not tell her details about my life - something my Uncle's daughter had warned mom about as well when grandma used private information to trash her reputation in public - but my mom hasn't really seemed to get how strictly I mean it or the harm it can cause.  I plan to be more clear with her about that in as soon as possible.  Mom talks to her every other day in the hopes that she can avert a blow up or two at Uncle's or get grandma out of the house to give them a break when she senses things are getting too tense, but I don't think it is fair that she uses information about me as a means of filling the time in her chatting.         



 

Shopaholic

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2012, 03:51:46 AM »
Hugs, NyaChan - your Grandma sounds horrid!
Instead of asking you about school, she focuses on 5-6 pounds? That's hardly noticeable!

I think you handled it really well. Next time I would stick with one "I'm not discussing it", and leaving the next time she brings it up.

I had something similar with DH's grandmother this past weekend. I'm pregnant, and she asked me how far along I was. After I told her, she informed that I was very large! This was on a day when 10 people told me how great I look, my mom told me I'm very small and a week where at least two people didn't even notice I was pregnant (at 31 weeks it's VERY obvious).
I told her that "Actually, several people have told me the opposite." Got up and left.

KenveeB

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2012, 09:08:25 AM »
NyaChan, if you're in law school, then I definitely understand! I managed okay in college, but in law school my weight just ballooned. There's SO much stress, so much work, and only so much time in the day! Just focus on your studies and get through this. As a PP said, you can't be perfect in every area, and it's much better to focus on doing well in law school right now. Keep that spine o' steel shiny and strong! Great job!

RooRoo

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2012, 07:58:15 PM »
Quote
I've made numerous requests of my mom to not tell her details about my life - something my Uncle's daughter had warned mom about as well when grandma used private information to trash her reputation in public  ... I don't think it is fair that she uses information about me as a means of filling the time in her chatting.

Perhaps you should let Mom know that her continuing to give this info to Grossma* will result in you not giving info to Mom? Tell Mom to watch soap operas and talk about them instead?

Sigh. Any of you scientists out there, please work on something to put in the public water supply that will kill toxicity...  :'(

*German for Grandma... isn't it? >:D

Oh, another possible response: "I save my energy for things that matter."
"Someday we must write a book of Etiquette for sensible people," said Mrs. Morland, "though apart from a few rules it really boils down to an educated mind and a kind heart." ~ Angela Thirkell, Never Too Late

Danika

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2012, 11:32:19 PM »
Perhaps you should let Mom know that her continuing to give this info to Grossma* will result in you not giving info to Mom?

POD

It's frustrating to be in this position because I imagine that there are other nice relatives at these gatherings who you do want to see and spend time with. Otherwise, hopefully, you'd skip the gatherings altogether.

And, in your shoes, I never wanted to have to sink to Toxic Relative's level and start saying rude things to them to give them a dose of their own medicine. I like being a nice, non-toxic person and I don't want to feel forced to act that way just to get them to stop. So there's really no point in engaging with a toxic relative at all.

Eventually, I got to the point where I just avoided these gatherings and invited the nice relatives to smaller non-family events so that I could see them and spend time with them without the toxic people around. The enablers and the toxic people just seemed to ruin the events for me and it wasn't worth going to them anymore.

buvezdevin

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Re: "I am not discussing this."
« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2012, 11:48:00 PM »
NyaChan, though you have cultural considerations involved, since your mother has now acknowledged that your grandmother does - at least sometimes - say things to be malicious, would it be possible to turn this back on grandma if she repeats in future?  Saying something like "grandma, the care you show in these comments is quite amazing, but it would be more interesting to know what you think is the best way to be a beloved matriarch -  criticism, or something else?"
Never refuse to do a kindness unless the act would work great injury to yourself, and never refuse to take a drink -- under any circumstances.
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