Not Remembering How People Are: Going Into Denial About Them


I read a post here about mothers with difficult daughters, and it reminded me of a trait of mine and that is "not remembering how people are: going into denial about them."

I went away for the weekend with two of my daughters - one of them has been very abusive to me in the past, but I keep "forgetting," and then am surprised when it happens again (I don't see her all that often, and sometimes when I do see her, she is nice) . . .

So this day, I was taking pictures and asked her to step back so I could get her and this amazing architecture in the same shot - she went nuts - said, "I'm not always going to do what you want," etc. She was glaring at me and yelling -out-of-the-blue . . .I said, "You didn't have to say that," and walked away, and tried to compose myself - It really stung - I had tears washing down my face - I wanted to stop it because I didn't want my other daughter to see me crying . . . the mean one chased me down and said, "Oh, now you're crying?" She can be a bully. I have taken it and taken it because I am not a mean person - and I keep thinking she will act right - she is over 40!

I have other family members that I also engage with and "forget" how they really are (let's face it: I have a bunch of dysfunctional family members). I keep hoping and wanting a peaceful, functional family - it is a powerful desire - and I have to realize I don't have that and there is nothing I can do about it!

Tanya M

Living with an attitude of gratitude
Staff member
Your daughter obviously knows how to push your buttons. What a very cruel thing she did. I agree, she is a bully.
I think the old saying of "out of sight out of mind" applies in situations like this. You don't see her on a day to day basis so I can see how easy it is to "forget" how mean she can be. I also think there's a part of us that always hopes when we see them, they will be nice.

I keep hoping and wanting a peaceful, functional family - it is a powerful desire - and I have to realize I don't have that and there is nothing I can do about it!
You are correct, there is nothing you can do to about it.

The only control we have is how we respond to what family members do. For me, when it comes to my son I had to remind myself over and over again, DO NOT ENGAGE. My son and I'm sure many others including your daughter will bait us hoping we will bite. Again, there is nothing we can do to stop them from doing this but we can control how we respond. Easier said than done but with practice it's possible.
I have found the less I say the better and have "canned" responses. I also had to develop a thick skin, a callous if you will, to protect myself.
Cry if you must but never do it in front of your daughter. Bite the inside of your cheek or dig your fingernails into the palm of your hand, do something that will help you maintain control.

You: Would you please step back so I can get a picture of you and the amazing architecture.
Daughter: I'm not always going to do what you want.
You: That's fine. (then walk away and separate yourself from her)
When you said "You didn't have to say that" you engaged and when she saw you crying she did what bullies do, she kicked you while your down.

My son has been very ugly to me and verbally abusive. I have a very strong faith and he went on a an attack on Facebook telling me I was stupid, naïve, dumb, blind, lost, etc......
I learned that trying to defend myself was useless as he would just continue to attack. I found the best response was "I'm sorry you feel that way, this is no longer up for discussion" When he continued after that, I blocked him from my Facebook.

Again, we cannot change how people will treat us but we can change how we respond to them.

I'm sorry you had to endure such meanness from you daughter.



Thank you - I was just shocked because I was just trying to take a picture of her - and her response was just soooooooooooooo ugly - I actually forget what all she said because I blocked it out of my mind (PTSD response).

I am never prepared for an attack - and I feel they are always unprovoked.

Yes. I did walk away and then the tears came - I couldn't stop them - it was as if I was punched in the gut. I know it's an old wound that was reactivated. I feel sad now just thinking of the hatefulness she has inside that she spews in my direction.

It helps me to have a witness to listen to my "poor little girl" who was hurt and abused (also old stuff), so thanks for listening.

Your FB experience sounds like it was unbelievably hurtful. I can't even imagine such venom! Good job taking care of yourself!


Well-Known Member
We cant make our family functional no matter how we wish it. I found that making my own family....super hub and engaging with my NICE kids makes me feel very happy. I have one son who is often not nice but I dont include him in family fun...he doesnt want to be involved and he is two states away. His siblings wants nothing to do with him. I talk to him seperately on the phone mostly. I am never surprised when he turns mean nor do I cry anymore or even feel very badly. I DO disengage from him for several days after he has gone off on me. He is usually nicer for a long time after I disengage.

Dont forget how negative people behave. Make your own group of kind family members (not the unkind ones) and nice friends. I am at a very peaceful place in my life. I like calm energy. This required I set strong boundaries with son and reluctantly realized my sister and I could never find peace together...I can not speak with her. She is the one I keep "forgetting" has a long, long history of cutting me off cold for various reasons and even compulsively calling the cops on me for, say, sending her an email she didnt like. I am done with those mean games and never again will forget why we rarely talk. I no longer ever think we can have a relationship. My husband kept reminding me...I didnt want to listen. Now I know for sure.

We need to be mindful of who we allow to be in our lives and we can not change reality. Your daughter will not change. Make sure you see her in a limited way and maybe without your nicer daughter. People dont change without desire to AND years of professional help. Find balanced folks! Those who value you.

Nobody has a right to abuse you, including grown children. NOBODY!
Stop looking at Facebook!!


Well-Known Member
My husband and I just got back from a lovely vacation in the mountains. We rented a larger than needed cabin and invited Daughter to come if she could get some time off from work. We did NOT invite our son. Why? Because of his pattern of spoiling family time and vacations that goes back years to when he was very young. Most of the time ove petty silly things. Now, add in being a pothead. Yes, it's legal in our state, but I cannot stand the smell! He can be very sweet, but most times he's obnoxious, rude, and mean, especially to our daughter. I won't subject her to that anymore. Every time I think about giving it another try, I see in my mind's eye the distasters of the past. I'm just not willing to go there. Maybe some time in the future....

I felt guilty .....for about a second. My husband reminded me that being that our kiddos are grown this is OUR TIME to enjoy each other and life after 20+ very turbulent years raising them.

The other day, Son comes into the room where both husband and I were reading/watching TV. He makes some snarky comment to us about something I don't event remember now. We both struggle not to engage him usually. Often times, one of us or both of us get offended and an argument starts. Not this time. My husband didn't even look up from what he was reading. I just continued to watch my show. Son just kinda stands there not sure what to do. Then, he pets the dog and walks out of the room. Once gone and out of ear shot, I reach over and high-fived my husband and said, "Now, that's how it's done!".


Well-Known Member
We just allowed hubby's younger difficult adult child to come live with us while he completes college.

He is messy, passive-aggressive, makes snarky comments, an has an entitled attitude.

Hubby forgot how difficult he was. Or he somehow thought it would be different.

I feel we are back to the same place we were when he was a belligerent 16 year old, only this time he lives with us instead of at his mom's. He has regressed, I think, while living here.


There are a few things that drive my "forgetfulness" about "how people really are" - 1) Wanting so bad to have a happy family - life long craving 2) Thinking people evolve, grow, and change (i.e., get "better") 3) Hopefulness that life can be fun and peaceful (with everyone) - this is idealism 4) Propensity to forgive easily - and think people learn from their mistakes or have a conscience (even when the evidence shows they don't) 5) PTSD (actually do "forget" (i.e., block out) trauma - so don't "remember" it or notice quickly enough when it is going to happen again. 6) Have a belief that all family members have the same values and are "decent" (I know . . .it's a childhood belief and mostly unconscious)


100% better than I was but not at 100% yet

I think we all crave the things that you mentioned above. I know that I do. I have an estranged relationship with my older brother and sister. They are not mean but something just happened (long story) with my son and his addiction and they can't move past it. I have tried. I have had to let go.

My husband has 3 sisters and only one of them is in our life because the other two are just so self absorbed that it's not worth it.

I do not have a relationship with my Difficult Child presently because I have been hurt so much by his poor choices and I just can't do it right now.

I have a friend that I thought was special but she did something that I thought was a bit cruel and she doesn't see it so have had to move on.

If I think about all this stuff I'd be really sad but I have had to be very thick skinned in my life but trying to do that without letting myself become negative or jaded by it. So far I have been successful.

I have talked to my therapist about it and she said it's due to my nature of being too kind. I'm trying to learn to be more assertive.


Glad you figured it out earlier, rather than later.

Yes. I am also "too kind" - Highly sensitive/tender-hearted. Can't deal with noise, stress, volatility, yelling, anger, acting out, etc.

I still do not understand why so many people want to live dysfunctional lives.

I don't understand people who don't want order, peace, health, and tranquility.

I can't handle drama and "borderlines" love drama!


Well-Known Member
I dont think time makes things different. Fortunately my dysfunctional family of origin was very small. I didnt have the added weight of srleven dysfunctional aunts and uncles and twenty dysfunctional cousins. All that is left us very elderly father, nice brother and sister. Once Dad is gone no reason to ever engage sister. I mean, if she has a strong dezire to talk to me again, i wont break her heart and keep her cut off. But i will have low expectations and disengage if I feel disregarded or hear rudeness or if she plays mind games with me, such as "I mirrored your thoughts."

My dream of loving family came true wirh husband, younger three kids, grand, husands sister and husband. We have peace, love, and fun!!


Time makes things different when you figure out healthy ways to live, earlier rather than later . . . but it's all individual and relative.

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
Yes. I am also "too kind" - Highly sensitive/tender-hearted. Can't deal with noise, stress, volatility, yelling, anger, acting out, etc.

I still do not understand why so many people want to live dysfunctional lives.

I don't understand people who don't want order, peace, health, and tranquility.

Oooo! Oooo! Me, too! :dance:

My therapist is fond of telling me that we all go through life experiencing it differently by looking through our different lenses. Yes, there are people who thrive on the drama. I think it somehow energizes them. It sucks the life out of me.

I also think that people who behave in a bullying way, get a backwards sense of power out of giving pain to other people. The only way we can keep them from hurting us, is to toughen up and not ever let them view the pain that they give us. From years of dealing with Lloyd, it is now second nature for me to not react, be calm, be aloof, and appear unfazed.

The reality is that I am terribly hurt by some of the things that SO and Ferb say and do. I just go quietly away and lick my emotional wounds in private. It gives them much less power.