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Source: (consider it) Thread: Difficult relatives
Wesley J

Silly Shipmate
# 6075

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Thank you, Denizens of Hell (and assorted boards).

Much food for thought. - Like Schwarzenegger said: I'll be back.

--------------------
Be it as it may: Wesley J will stay. --- Euthanasia, that sounds good. An alpine neutral neighbourhood. Then back to Britain, all dressed in wood. Things were gonna get worse. (John Cooper Clarke)

Posts: 7352 | From: The Isles of Silly | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
Jemima the 9th
Shipmate
# 15106

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Harrumph. One tiny message to say (getting the formalities out of the way) "how are the family?", followed by "I'm ill".

The problem is that messages aren't just messages, they're code for "come and look after me". DR might be ill, just as he might have been the preceding 8 million times. But it seems unlikely. What's hellish, though, is that I've wasted hours pondering whether to reply, and if so with what. And it's made me stroppy with the children. Pffft. To steal from the Handmaid's Tale, it's high time I got my fucking shit together.

Posts: 801 | From: UK | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged
cliffdweller
Shipmate
# 13338

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quote:
Originally posted by Jemima the 9th:
Harrumph. One tiny message to say (getting the formalities out of the way) "how are the family?", followed by "I'm ill".

The problem is that messages aren't just messages, they're code for "come and look after me". DR might be ill, just as he might have been the preceding 8 million times. But it seems unlikely. What's hellish, though, is that I've wasted hours pondering whether to reply, and if so with what. And it's made me stroppy with the children. Pffft. To steal from the Handmaid's Tale, it's high time I got my fucking shit together.

Agh.

This reminded me of my paternal grandmother, a narcissistic queen who perfected the passive-aggressive illness.

In a rare moment of insight my dad called her one morning and asked how she was. This, of course, was followed by long stream of sighing re imaginary ailments. Dad responded, "oh, that's too bad. I'd called to see if you wanted to join [my mom] & I to drive up the coast for brunch at [fancy upscale beachside inn]. Oh, well. we'll have to go without you..."

He cut off the sputtering to say they had to go to arrive before the brunch service ended.

--------------------
"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

Posts: 11242 | From: a small canyon overlooking the city | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged
Golden Key
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# 1468

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cliffdweller--

Bravo to your dad! LOL.

--------------------
Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

Posts: 18594 | From: Chilling out in an undisclosed, sincere pumpkin patch. | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Golden Key
Shipmate
# 1468

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{{{{{Jemima}}}}}

--------------------
Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

Posts: 18594 | From: Chilling out in an undisclosed, sincere pumpkin patch. | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jemima the 9th
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# 15106

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Thank you, Golden Key.
cliffdweller, that is utter genius. I love it.

Posts: 801 | From: UK | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged
Golden Key
Shipmate
# 1468

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I came across a Carolyn Hax advice column about trying very hard to get attention/affection from Difficult Relatives who will never give it, and coming to terms with that.

It resonated with me, and it might with you, too.

{{{{{Everyone with difficult relatives}}}}}

--------------------
Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

Posts: 18594 | From: Chilling out in an undisclosed, sincere pumpkin patch. | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
North East Quine

Curious beastie
# 13049

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A has something important to discuss with B, and wants to discuss it face to face, when they next meet, in several weeks time. In the meantime A wants it kept a secret, to avoid B hearing second hand.

A has discussed it with me and C, and told us who we can and can't mention it to. A is happy for D to know. But C doesn't want D to know and has asked it be kept secret from D.

D has texted me to say thanks for a birthday gift, and has also said that she thinks A is keeping a secret from C. D says she is going to phone me for a chat.

Fuck. What do I say to D if she phones fishing for info? I know that A isn't keeping a secret from C, but that it is in fact C who is keeping a secret from D.

The North-East offspring have suggested that if D phones and the conversation starts getting awkward I can give them a signal and one will shout "Mum! Mum! There are sparks coming from the kettle!!" which will let me end the call rapidly, but I think the situation is complicated enough without inventing a malfunctioning kettle. I can almost guarantee that if I do, within 24 hours I'll be fielding anxious phone calls from, inter alia, A, and possibly B and C about rumours of a fire in my kitchen / my house burning down.


[brick wall] [brick wall] [brick wall]

Posts: 6414 | From: North East Scotland | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged
Golden Key
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# 1468

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{{{{{NEQ}}}}}

I've been known to make an "appointment" with myself. During a difficult, unwanted phone call (e.g. with a Difficult Relative): when I couldn't take it any more, I'd plead an appointment. Didn't say what it was. May well have been TV, reading, taking a walk. But an appointment with *myself* is just as valid as any other.

If the kids are old enough to have homework, they could call out that they need help with it.

Or they could always have a "fight"... [Biased]

Oh, and sometimes it helps to set a mental time limit on how long you'll let the call last. (E.g., "I'll hang up after 10 min., unless A drives me mad before then".)

Good luck!

--------------------
Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

Posts: 18594 | From: Chilling out in an undisclosed, sincere pumpkin patch. | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
# 11770

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The other thing you could do is say that A, B and C all seem to have their heads together at the moment, you're not entirely sure what the problem is, but you hope when they've sorted themselves out you'll know what's going on and will be able to explain. Now this minute you're not sure yourself and would hate to pass on a garbled version that would add to the confusion; has D asked A? With your fingers crossed behind your back that A will tell D if prompted.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

Posts: 13794 | From: outiside the outer ring road | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
North East Quine

Curious beastie
# 13049

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A would happily tell D, were it not for the fact that C has asked A to keep it a secret from D.
Posts: 6414 | From: North East Scotland | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged
Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
# 11770

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But it's not your problem to be kept a secret. It's A's, and C has decided that it should be kept a secret from D.

So deflect the issue back to A, by suggesting D talks to A. This may mean A overrides C and tells D, or backs C and doesn't tell D. Either way it's A's secret and up to them whether they tell D or not, so their problem to deal with.

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Mugs - Keep the Ship afloat

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Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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1. Publish it on social media.
2. Live-tweet the fallout.
3. ...
4. Profit.

If they've told someone, it's not a secret.

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Forward the New Republic

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Leorning Cniht
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# 17564

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quote:
Originally posted by North East Quine:

Fuck. What do I say to D if she phones fishing for info? I know that A isn't keeping a secret from C, but that it is in fact C who is keeping a secret from D.

"I haven't picked up on any kind of problem between A and C. What makes you think that?" Then let D talk all her worries out, and tell her that you don't think there's anything to it, but you'll keep your eyes open. Has the benefit of being 100% true.

[ 23. August 2017, 02:39: Message edited by: Leorning Cniht ]

Posts: 5026 | From: USA | Registered: Feb 2013  |  IP: Logged
Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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In such cases i simply wave my hands and say helplessly to whoever enquires, "It's all so complicated. My head is going round. If you find out, maybe you could let me know?" Rinse, repeat, till they go away.

--------------------
Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20059 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
RuthW

liberal "peace first" hankie squeezer
# 13

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quote:
Originally posted by North East Quine:
D has texted me to say thanks for a birthday gift, and has also said that she thinks A is keeping a secret from C. D says she is going to phone me for a chat.

Fuck. What do I say to D if she phones fishing for info? I know that A isn't keeping a secret from C, but that it is in fact C who is keeping a secret from D.

Tell D that if she thinks A is keeping a secret, she should talk to A. There is no reason for you to clarify the situation for D -- it's not up to you to decide who gets to know what in this scenario.

Edit: cross-posted with LC.

[ 23. August 2017, 04:09: Message edited by: RuthW ]

Posts: 24451 | From: La La Land | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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This is getting v. weird. Since my parents passed away this year, my sister and I decided it would be good to visit our three aunts, my mother's sisters, who all live in New York City and are all in their late 80s or early 90s. We did this earlier in August. Two of them are very sensible.
But the one, my Aunt P., has a screw loose. We have not seen her in a good 20 years, because of her penchant for family feuds. She assured us that another cousin has stolen/hoarded all the assets that should have been distributed to the family, and proposes that we all hire a lawyer.
We assumed this was a 'let's you and him fight' ploy, and played dumb. Now today she is pelting my unlucky sister with phone calls (I prudently neglected to give Aunt P my number) trying to either organize this lawsuit or a family confrontation, which cannot possibly go well.
I should mention that all these assets (stocks, land, etc.) are in China from several changes in regime ago. The chances of getting anything out of the current Chinese government are infinitesimal. And in any case I believe she has forgotten that a settlement of some sort was achieved in the 80s, by relatives now deceased. If there was any money, it's gone.
I suggested to my sister that she block the number on her phone, but I'm a one for the fast solution...

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Lamb Chopped
Ship's kebab
# 5528

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Playing dumb and ignorant is always useful. It gets you out of any number of feuds. As does failure to return timely phone calls. (Those who are chicken can call up, say "how are you?" and get intentionally interrupted 5 minutes in, so as to remove any pretext for "you're blocking me...")

This is actually how I've handled matters in my extended family for lo, these twenty years now. I have a rep as the clueless one. [Snigger]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

Posts: 20059 | From: off in left field somewhere | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Rosa Winkel

Saint Anger round my neck
# 11424

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I know that thread necromancy is frowned upon, but I hope I understand things correctly that this thread is an exception.

I've been reading this thread over time and feeling common cause with some, what with my mother. She has a mental illness; it was never told me, not least by herself, what she has. She did have a diagnoses of schizophrenia when I was a young lad, but later this was questioned by a doctor. That's what my mum told me anyway.

Anyway, she was on anti-depressants since before I was born in the early 1970s. She came off them about two years ago. She came to us for Christmas 2016 and cried for the slightest of reasons a few times and was generally overwhelmed by the presence of my then three-year-old son, as it brought her back how she brought me up (alone, my father died when I was three).

Her doctor told that there is nothing wrong with her, based upon what she told him. I disagree with this. Due to her recent crying due to problems with Skype I told her to see the doctor, and she said that she will instead "trust God".

Once some Christian friends told her that the taking of anti-depressants shows that "she doesn't trust God". That's the hellish part of this post.

As it is, based upon my intuitions and what some have written here about their experiences, I guess the time is for me to protect my children (my son had many tantrums when she was here, as he was stressed by her, I guess) and even further limit contact with her with them, and accept that it is her who has the responsibility for dealing with her mental illness (not me), even if she reckons that she is "fine" (she gets paranoid about "others telling me what to do" as regards to getting help).

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The Disability and Jesus "Locked out for Lent" project

Posts: 3271 | From: Wrocław | Registered: May 2006  |  IP: Logged
Doc Tor
Deepest Red
# 9748

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You're fine, Rosa. Even in Hell, we're here to help.

DT
HH


--------------------
Forward the New Republic

Posts: 9131 | From: Ultima Thule | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Helen-Eva
Shipmate
# 15025

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quote:
Originally posted by Rosa Winkel:

Once some Christian friends told her that the taking of anti-depressants shows that "she doesn't trust God". That's the hellish part of this post.

God has given us few finer gifts that anti-depressants as they allow a lot of people to live their lives who would otherwise die in despair. (God's contribution of painkillers is also much appreciated.) I would be very angry if any so-called Christian friends told any of me or mine not to take the pills that had been duly prescribed by a proper doctor.

I'm so sorry to hear of your problems RW and if I have anything to add it's that I think you're right you have to protect yourself and your children. Driving yourself nuts will not help anyone else so I hope you will be able to keep yourself safe(ish). [Votive]

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I thought the radio 3 announcer said "Weber" but it turned out to be Webern. Story of my life.

Posts: 637 | From: London, hopefully in a theatre or concert hall, more likely at work | Registered: Aug 2009  |  IP: Logged
mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
# 15978

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What to do with loony parents.

For me, keeping a lot of physical and emotional distance helps a lot - one can only afford lots of truth and vulnerability with people who are themselves truthful, and some people are so damaged that they may have to wangle the truth wildly, and perhaps hourly, in order to keep themselves together. This doesn't change.

So I find that the distance, paradoxically, enables me to be kind. And if I have only said 'ah, yes, I see' to the last version of reality, then when it changes to its opposite, I need only add 'ah, yes, I see'. The good thing is, through both I can smile.

Maybe the big problem with physical distance is that you can't pop in with grand-kid, and then leave again when it isn't going so well that day. I've tried to keep my kids available-ish to my parents through some fairly heavy shit, and on the whole I'm glad I did - now kids are older (10 and 12) they can kind of handle it, and the parents are sliding off into their dotage, their anger more and more irrelevant.

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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Golden Key
Shipmate
# 1468

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{{{{{everyone with difficult relatives}}}}}

--------------------
Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

Posts: 18594 | From: Chilling out in an undisclosed, sincere pumpkin patch. | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
North East Quine

Curious beastie
# 13049

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My family's information management is driving me nuts.

A has a Big Secret. Eight family members know this Big Secret, but A is anxious to keep it a secret from an alcoholic relative whose reactions are unpredictable (I suspect that there's a degree of dementia creeping in to alcoholic relative's behaviour, the behaviour is becoming increasingly disinhibited)

It doesn't help that the alcoholism is another Family Secret - we all know about it, but are supposed to use coded language "slipped on an icy pavement" or "tripped over a loose rug" instead of "fell down drunk."

I can see why A doesn't want Alcoholic Relative to know, but there's a family event coming up, at which keeping the Big Secret might mean me telling outright bare-faced lies. And I absolutely don't want to do that.

I need to persuade A to get the whole matter out into the open, but I don't know how.

The only positive in all this is that I am determined not to carry on this ridiculous who-knows-what to the next generation.

Posts: 6414 | From: North East Scotland | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged
Meconopsis
Apprentice
# 18146

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Reading these is jogging my memory. I tend to forget just how sick my own family-of-origin is, because since my mother died, they just aren't in my life
But that last one from NE Quine reminded me of an incident very similar, & horrible, & relatively recent.
I am in northern Calif. Cousin Sheila came to spend a month with my mother in her beautiful house. This cousin brought a secret, and told me first - no special reason, just timing.
It was a very very really bad thing about my mother's brother (Uncle Bill) who happens to be the family highest-achiever. The secret was, he was caught in pedophilic activity while acting as a trusted (& admired) church deacon & catechism teacher.
Next time I went to visit, the group was: my mother, younger sister, & cousin Sheila. Sheila met me at the door and whispered, "Don't let your mother know I told you about Uncle Bill, because when I told her, she said, "Don't tell this to Meconopsis".
Well, later on the conversation came around to Uncle Bill, & I was in the position of having to participate in conscious dishonesty, or ask about what my mom & sister thought about the news. Mother & sister both attacked me, referring to me as a "lynch mob".
Ever after, when my mother & I were together & no-one else was present, my mother would start singing the praises of Uncle Bill, & i would say very little.
I finally looked her in the face & said, "If you want to talk about Uncle Bill, let's do it".
She looked at me with disgust & I don't think she ever did this to me again.
The sad thing is, I don't know if cousin Sheila is angry with me for not following her instructions.

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LutheranChik
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# 9826

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As some of you know, my spouse is in the hospital recovering from a severe GI/ pancreatic/ renal Perfect Storm. (Doing better; thanks for the prayers and positive wishes.)

She’s been so sick that I’ve been the de facto family PR agent, issuing health updates. At one point I mentioned that DS had been on a rigorous liquid diet to prepare for some surgery this month, and we had wondered if this might have somehow set this crisis in motion. DiL responded, “ Did a doctor prescribe that, or was it her idea?” I understand that tone doesn’t always translate in IMs, but to me it was incredibly rude and hurtful. She has a talent for making DS feel stupid — and, truth be told, Son # 2 will also constantly second- guess DS’s decisions about everything — always assumes she’s wrong. Since I’m a stepparent, and a late one at that, I have to hold my tongue during some of these interchanges so things don’t spin out of control, but sometimes I’d like to take these two behind the woodshed and give them a whuppin’. People who make my wife cry make me furious.

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Simul iustus et peccator
http://www.lutheranchiklworddiary.blogspot.com

Posts: 6462 | From: rural Michigan, USA | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
jacobsen

seeker
# 14998

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LC - how painful to be caught between these behaviours and your wife's distress, and to be unable to follow your instinct to defend your mate. Congratulations on your self-control. [Overused]

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But God, holding a candle, looks for all who wander, all who search. - Shifra Alon
Beauty fades, dumb is forever-Judge Judy
The man who made time, made plenty.

Posts: 8040 | From: Æbleskiver country | Registered: Aug 2009  |  IP: Logged
LutheranChik
Shipmate
# 9826

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I just realized I described myself as a “ late stepparent.” I meant to say a “ late to the game stepparent.” The kids haven’t killed me yet.;-)

BTW, Son # 2 called yesterday morning and seemed genuinely concerned and non- judgmental. For now.

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Simul iustus et peccator
http://www.lutheranchiklworddiary.blogspot.com

Posts: 6462 | From: rural Michigan, USA | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
jacobsen

seeker
# 14998

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I hope that helped to lighten things for you, LC.

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But God, holding a candle, looks for all who wander, all who search. - Shifra Alon
Beauty fades, dumb is forever-Judge Judy
The man who made time, made plenty.

Posts: 8040 | From: Æbleskiver country | Registered: Aug 2009  |  IP: Logged
cliffdweller
Shipmate
# 13338

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Agh, LC-- I always think of your family as so sane and reasonable. I'm so sorry to hear you, too, suffer from the plague of DR. Especially painful when you're worried and stressed yourself with your wife's illness. Although it's fairly normal I guess for the DR to act up more when stressed. Some people (looking around for that "someone" and then realize I'm looking into a mirror) deal with stress and worry by amping up the micro-managing/2nd guessing because it gives them (us) an illusion of control.

(and a non-hellish prayer for LC & DS) [Votive]

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"Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid." -Frederick Buechner

Posts: 11242 | From: a small canyon overlooking the city | Registered: Jan 2008  |  IP: Logged
jacobsen

seeker
# 14998

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Control issues seem to underlie an awful lot. Just observe any stroppy toddler.

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But God, holding a candle, looks for all who wander, all who search. - Shifra Alon
Beauty fades, dumb is forever-Judge Judy
The man who made time, made plenty.

Posts: 8040 | From: Æbleskiver country | Registered: Aug 2009  |  IP: Logged
LutheranChik
Shipmate
# 9826

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A lot of it, I’m sure, is about 40- something’s coming to terms with their parents’ mortality. Plus two individuals with such a strong internal locus of control that random misfortune really throws them for a loop.

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Simul iustus et peccator
http://www.lutheranchiklworddiary.blogspot.com

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