The Intentionally Emotive Podcast with Shaun Karim
Episode 16 - Why Do People Believe My Toxic Parent Over Me?
Are you in a situation where, no matter what you tell people, they believe most or even all of the lies that your toxic parent tells them about you? Do you wonder why they seemingly have everyone wrapped around their finger despite anything you do or say?
In this episode, Shaun goes into detail about his experiences with his toxic parent to allow you to draw parallels from your own life. Once you’ve identified and understand what is actually happening, there are things you should and shouldn’t do so that you can come out of this trauma and move into a better, healthier version of yourself.
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How's it going, everybody? Welcome to the Intentionally Emotive Podcast with Shaun Karim, part of the Mental Health News Radio Network. New episodes are available every Wednesday on your favorite podcast platform.
If you want to leave a voice message about any topic or have a question to be featured in a future episode, go to www.shaunkarim.com and click the microphone icon on the bottom right of your screen.
Today’s topic is titled “Why Do People Believe My Toxic Parent Over Me?”
In order to paint this picture correctly, I’m going to share my recent experience with you.
About a week and a half ago I attended my sister’s wedding reception. She was married earlier this year, but decided to have the reception later for logistical reasons. Anyway, the setting was really nice. It was near the port of San Pedro, California. It was peaceful being next to the water, with a gentle breeze, and the sun wasn’t too hot.
When I arrived, my sister and her husband were already having pictures taken, so I hung around them and was speaking to some family members and family friends I hadn’t seen in years. Others I had seen more recently when my mom passed a few years ago. The reason I hadn’t seen them for so long was because I left home when I was 19, and I bounced around from outside and throughout California. When I left the city of LA, where I was born and raised, I essentially never looked back.
So about 20 years, give or take, had gone by while I was living my life. From leaving home to get away from my abusive, narcissistic asshole of a father, to being homeless living out of my car and eating Taco Bell hot sauce or 7-Eleven hot dogs for food, to finally getting a job and my own place, getting married, moving around for job-related reasons, getting divorced and being a victim of domestic violence, being bullied and harassed at work to the point where my manager wanted me gone, to finding an excellent job and moving again, buying a house, doing a lot of internal work that I must continue to do, and for the first time in my life being in a healthy relationship with someone, a lot has happened.
I basically kept all of that to myself. It’s not that it’s a secret–after all, I’m blasting this on this show for you and anyone else to listen to, right? I’m a private person, and I share my life’s details with people as I see fit. I’m sharing this with you now because it’s important you understand where I’m coming from before you go along this journey with me.
For 20 years, almost no one heard from me, hadn’t seen me; I basically dropped off the face of the Earth as far as they’re concerned.
One of the most painful things I’ve ever experienced was domestic violence from my ex wife. Not physically–growing up in LA in the 80s and 90s, I learned how to take a punch or two. It was the emotional side of it that hurt. It hurt like hell to know that this person who I was trying my best with for years until the end would treat me like that. It hurt even more when she started slandering me to her lawyer and our common friends, accusing me of being the one who was the aggressor, of hiding money, and all of the other bullshit lies she said about me.
The reason that hurt as much as it did is because I do my best to carry myself a certain way. It’s not that it’s unnatural for me, but I do it with intention. If you’ve listened to some of my past episodes, you know I do my best to be the opposite of my dad; it hurt to discover recently that I’m still like him in some ways because he is truly a terrible human being, so I still have work to do.
I used to believe the whole thing about how family is everything and if you can’t count on them, then who can you count on, blah-blah-blah. During one of the lowest moments of my life–this divorce and all of the stuff coming out of it–I went to my parents and my sister and told them about why I was getting a divorce, and what my ex was doing to make my life difficult, as she promised she would.
I shared intimate details about not just the arguments we had, but the genesis of them, the things I tried to do to fix the relationship, how it wasn’t a two-way street with us about anything, and how I had enough because my mental health was deteriorating more and more; so much that I wanted to kill myself. I opened up to them like I never had before. My sister was extremely supportive; she had seen a lot of what happened and understood enough about what I was going through. It took my mom a while to process things; unfortunately, she passed away before she could fully understand things, I think. My dad was supportive too–which was a surprise–telling me not to think about my ex, to not even say her name anymore, and that he would do whatever he could to support me.
Fast forward a year later. I’m divorced. I have a great job with people who are respectable, and I’m doing what I love. I’m getting healthier–physically and emotionally. I have this house that I had custom built. I’m living the best life I’ve ever had, and I know things will continue to get better.
Then one day, I received a text from one of my aunts–my mom’s cousin. She was the cool aunt who took me out to do fun things; eat at cool restaurants, she took me to Malibu Castle in North Hollywood regularly, and introduced me to genres of movies and TV shows that I still enjoy to this day.
She texted to inform me of the things my dad was saying about me behind my back. Things like how I’m not a good person, that I never cared for anyone but myself, that I was “weak” like my mom was, that the reason I got divorced was because I was cheating on my ex.
Needless to say, I was hurt. A lot. More than anything, I was angry. How could my own father tell those lies about me? How could he betray the trust I put in him with the details of my divorce? I was speaking with him regularly at this time. He knew what was going on in my life. I’d even visit him at his restaurant on my way home from the courthouse to spend time with him and update him on things.
But now this? After all this time? After all of the shit we’ve gone through, and all of what I thought we were trying to achieve as a family, he hurt me. That pain was like reliving all of the shit that my ex was putting me through during our divorce–the lies, the manipulation, putting me in a bad light, and shitting on my name.
You know the people who saw me grow up into my late teens and then saw me disappear for those 20-ish years? The great majority of them are taking his side. They believe his lies, and they haven’t asked me anything. Instead, they look at me with disdain. They attempt to speak to me like they know who I am; the only reason it doesn’t go further is because I shut that bullshit down immediately.
Only a handful of people–people who actually know who I am and know why I am the way I am–know those are lies.
But that larger lot of people? Well, my reputation is terrible. I’m this horrible person who is an infidel, who can’t help himself but does terrible things to good people, and I don’t care about anyone but myself.
So, why am I sharing all of this with you? What’s the point here?
Maybe you’ve heard about people who project their insecurities or the bad shit they’ve done on others by accusing them of doing those things. In the instances I’ve described, that’s precisely what’s happening; and so it’s important for you to identify whether or not this is happening with you to allow yourself to better handle what’s going on here.
Remember that your toxic parent may have some good traits; some more than others, but you and others are able to label them as toxic because that is their predominant behavior. That is their identity. They are skilled, and some are even experts, at lying; at convincing other people that you are doing what they are actually doing, or what they’ve done or intend to do.
In some cases, when they go into detail and describe what you’re doing, your bad characteristics, your poor decisions, and so on, they will almost identically describe precisely what THEY are doing. The thing here is that they are so manipulative, and they are so good at putting themselves in a certain light, that people who don’t know any better will believe all of those lies.
In my case, my dad uses the death of my mom for sympathy so that people will feel sorry for him and think better of him, certainly better than he deserves to be thought of.
So this parent appears to have a level of superiority–probably because they boast about this and that–and appears to be righteous and will automatically condemn what they say you’re doing or what you’ve done. They do this because it all feeds into the narrative of them being the victim; that they meant to do well; that they tried their hardest; and they don’t understand what else they can do.
If someone happens to call them on their bullshit and tell them what they know is really going on, even if they’re not 100% spot on about it, this parent will simply walk away, ignore what was said, and pretty quickly act like that conversation never happened. Why? They can’t give any power to that because they will do anything to protect their ego.
So the people they have fooled–they believe this toxic parent because they are so good at lying; and it can be extremely frustrating when people believe our toxic parent and not us. Tell me if this resonates with you–you come to this situation with all of the facts laid out, and the people that your parent has convinced essentially try to diminish what you say your parent has done to you and tell you to straighten up your act and make amends with your parent.
Why does this happen? It’s because of this parent–they are broken and desperate. Their will to do the right thing, even if it means admitting their faults, is weak. Their desperation to receive sympathy makes them think that whatever bullshit they want to do in their life is somehow justified. One of the sick, twisted things here is the person they lie to the most is themselves; this allows them to do whatever it is they’re going to do without a second thought, without guilt, without fear of real consequences.
This story that they’ve crafted that puts you in this bad light and them in a good light makes it look like their child is in the wrong because that child is rightfully sad, angry, and confused; that child is carrying on appearing to be distorted and frustrated at everything. This is what feeds into all of the things the toxic parent is convincing others of. This is the story they’re telling, and they’re tricking people into believing your behavior, your reaction is all part of the lies they’ve told about you.
So what can you do about this? Honestly, there’s not a lot. It’s not like you can speak to any of these people from a place of trauma. You can’t go around telling everyone what the real story is; you can’t tell them what your character is like in contrast to your parent’s character; you may not even be able to properly call out your parent in front of people in a way that whatever you say–the truth–will be received the right way.
The thing that you can and should do instead is not talk to any of those people from a place of where your trauma lives. You need to heal that trauma. Go through in your mind all of those things, those lies, that your toxic parent is feeding off of, and understand and accept that those things are not you. Fully accept that. If it means you sit in solitude for a while, go on a hike, or cry a river of tears, it doesn’t matter. Do what you need to do to get that right in your head.
That’s going to take work. It takes a ton of courage and strength to do it. If you’re still listening, I believe you can safely assume you have what it takes. Heal yourself on the inside. Know who you actually are; know who you are not. Surround yourself with people who truly care for and love you. Do the things in your life you know that are of integrity, of high morals, that allow you to sleep peacefully at night.
Carry yourself in a way, and be consistent with this, where your peers look at you and respond to you according to your behavior. Be strong. Be yourself with conviction; don’t fall for the traps that your toxic parent has laid out for you to fall into. You can identify them; side step them.
Eventually, as you continue to take care of the things inside of you, the things outside of you will take care of themselves. Does that mean all of those people who believe those lies will see through them eventually? I don’t know, but most people aren’t capable of being better versions of themselves.
But they don’t belong in your circle of people or your thoughts anyway. The ones who know you will know who you are, and they won’t doubt it as you continue to be your authentic self. You’re not perfect; no one is, but you know you’re not your toxic parent.
I don’t know why your toxic parent wants to destroy you. I don’t think anyone will truly ever understand why people like you and me are attacked by people who had such authority in our lives. Take that authority away from them; they don’t deserve it. When you do that, they can’t truly do anything to you anymore.
No one can destroy iron except for its own rust. Just like you, no one can destroy you except you and your own mind.
All right, guys. Thanks for listening to the Intentionally Emotive Podcast with Shaun Karim. If you enjoyed this episode, don’t forget to spread the word on social media and check out www.shaunkarim.com.