Okay, I admit I have been binge watching Dr. Who on Netflix (again!). But the above quote from the show is actually quite appropriate to dealing with toxic people. Toxic people do not communicate, at least not about things that matter.
You wouldn’t describe my mother as ‘the quiet type’ I guess. She tells stories about her day. While growing up I knew the names of all her co-workers and many of her students (especially the ones who caused trouble). There is mostly quantity of conversation in my family though, not quality. Lots of noise, but little real communication. We know things about each other, but not thoughts and feelings. Real personal questions or remarks would be met with silence or diversions. In fact, when I had to move back in with my parents at age 22, and I requested to speak to my mother about some tensions that arose she had my father inform me:
‘She is afraid to talk to you, your communication skills are too good’
It is a strange notion that good communication skills would prevent her from feeling safe to share. At least that is what I thought at the time. In hindsight I realize that she just does not want to communicate, full stop. My communication skills would have likely meant I would have poked through the smoke screen. Now, not only did she avoid the initial meeting, she also made me feel so anxious about making her feel unsafe in our communications that I held back when asking her questions in the future.
When I think of the communication in my Family of Origins and mt Family of Choice, I cannot believe the difference. We talk about our feelings, our fears, our concerns, our joys, our opinions… I have no idea of the names of most of their co-workers or pupils, I have no idea of any of the office gossip that goes on in their work places (for the most part ;)) and if you would ask me for the latest annoying thing their neighbor did or said… I couldn’t tell you. I know them though… I know them better than I ever knew any of my family members or their flying monkeys. I know what moves and drives them. I know how they meet the challenges of life… in fact, I face them right along with them.