The Toxic Dump: Mismanaged Expectations
The Toxic Dump is dedicated to the unedited chapters, traits, and tools of Toxicology that were left on the cutting room floor.
This was actually one of the harder stories to cut. It checked so many boxes of toxicity. But that ended up being the issue with keeping it, it didn’t fit neatly into one chapter and couldn’t be a chapter on its own without defining a new personality to support it. But it remains relevant and applicable to so many people and families.
But I Don’t Have Any Children
Sheila loves her sister, Cynthia, and niece immensely. She has consistently gone out of her way to try to assist with babysitting as much as possible when Cynthia must work. Sheila doesn't have many looming obligations, so she felt as though she was fulfilling her familial duties as much as she could tolerate.
Prior to Cynthia moving back into their mother’s house, Sheila’s extended hand was met with genuine appreciation and consistent recognition. The moment Cynthia’s situation changed and included living with Sheila again, her optional time spent watching her niece was assumed to become a full time, non-paying, gig. Without any real discussion, consideration, or agreement, her sister decided that she was indeed her full-time, all day, without question nanny.
There were a lot of things Sheila is prepared for, however, playing single Mom for up to fifteen hours a day was not one of them. In her attempt to be honest with Cynthia and explaining her voluntary childcare capacity, she was labeled selfish and inconsiderate. Instantly gone were the nice words and accolades. The reminders of respect and appreciation were immediately replaced with angry shouting and a cold shoulder.
Within the same week Sheila was just told how she did so much, she was now being berated for not doing enough, thinking enough, or caring enough. That was a difficult and painful transition to make in such a short amount of time.
Sheila began to question her decision to set boundaries.
Was she this terrible person?
Was she the bad guy?
Is her sanity and self-preservation not just as significant as her sisters?
She would be doing herself a disservice by taking on more than she could handle, but the alternative seemed almost easier. However, she didn’t want to risk becoming resentful and angry towards someone she loves. She never wanted to look at her time with her niece as anything other than a joyful occurrence. Being volun-told to do otherwise would change that.
Why this didn't make sense to her sister? Likely because she had something she needed done and Sheila could do it. She toxically felt that it was Sheila’s responsibility to support her life decisions by neglecting her own. Sheila was wonderful if she continued to say yes. The moment she said no, things turned unhealthy.
Cynthia was mad at Sheila for not being there for her.
Sheila was hurt Cynthia was being so inconsiderate.
All this could have been avoided had Cynthia’s expectations of what Sheila’s involvement would be not been dependent solely on her needs.
Monica could not compete with Sheila’s idea of what she should be able to do so she let her down.
Moral of the Story: You can do your best, but if it isn’t recognized, you’ll be left feeling unappreciated and overspent. You can do your best, but if someone assumes you have more to give, you will be held accountable for what they believe you are holding back. You can do you best, but if someone requires more, you cannot satisfy them.
All the potential ways to improve this situation rely on accuracy of expectations and communication. Sheila and Cynthia had neither and it was reflected in their declining relationship.