Tough Love

30 Sep

before you quote

We were all at the mercy of Auntie’s moods.  We never knew from one day to the next how she was going to react.  If we got in a disagreement about something, or she didn’t like the way I handled a discipline situation with one of the kids, she would “get even” by not cooking dinner, sulking and either giving everyone the silent treatment, or snapping at us.  It got to be a familiar and tiresome pattern.  It didn’t matter what I said or how I said it, she would take it personally and sulk for days.  It wouldn’t have bothered me so much, but when she was upset with me, instead of just giving me the silent treatment, the kids got it as well.  I would get home from work and the kids would pull me aside and tell me things she had said or done when they got home from school. I would listen and tell them I would talk to her and get her side of the story.  I thought that was only fair since I wasn’t home to witness the things they told me that happened. When I approached my Aunt to find out what happened and to get her side of the story, she would get upset and take it like the kids were sneaking and talking behind her back.  I explained to her countless times that I had told them to come to me.  I didn’t tell her why, but I didn’t think the kids should approach her about anything because her reactions were so unpredictable.

My Aunt was bound and determined to be “right”, no matter what. She knew it all and you couldn’t tell her anything.  You didn’t dare disagree with her.  If you cared for her, then your were expected to side with her; and whether or not you agreed didn’t matter.  In her mind, you were either for her or against her–period. When I went back to work, she started playing everyone against each other.  She would tell me one thing and my husband another. It was the same with the kids.  After a while, my oldest two children started avoiding her altogether. My husband spent more and more time out in the garage tinkering and less time inside with the family. He would later confide in me that he was avoiding her too.

There was no consistency and we never knew what to expect from one day to the next. If things happened to be going well, it felt even worse because I knew it was only a matter of time before the other shoe would drop.  Life was getting more and more unpredictable and we were all miserable.  I suggested several times to my Aunt that she go to a doctor to see if there was a different medication she could try for her Bipolar Disorder symptoms.  The more I mentioned it, the more she stubbornly dug her heels in and refused, saying she could handle her symptoms on her own.  I was terribly frustrated.  On one hand I didn’t want to say anything that may hurt her feelings, and on the other I just wanted her gone.  I felt intense regret that I’d ever invited her to stay with us. The more time went by, the more disgusted I got with the situation.  I worried about my kids and my marriage and I could see the evidence of how our decision to open up our home and our family to her negatively impacted our lives.  I was in a very difficult position.  I couldn’t make her take medication if she didn’t want to, and I couldn’t get her to see how irrational and erratic her behavior had become.  When we were able to talk without her getting defensive, I’d be relieved and think that we had made some progress; only to be met with her sulking a few days later, as if the conversation had never even happened!

At the end of March, Auntie would finally push me too far…

…next…tough love part 2…

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4 Responses to “Tough Love”

  1. Gary Leigh September 30, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    It’s always stuns me how someone can come into your home and make it as though it’s there’s and you are the ones that have to fit in with them.

    • ZenMamaJen September 30, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      I know, right? I learned my lesson, that’s for sure. I won’t be offering anyone a place to stay again. I still have a hard time believing she actually thought if let her come in and just take control of my home, my kids, and my family.

      • Gary Leigh September 30, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

        The problem with being an Empath is that you let them go way too far out of guilt, and maybe in the hope you’ll find a solution. Never ends up happening, though.

      • ZenMamaJen September 30, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

        Exactly. I knew a totally different person from the one that moved in with us. I felt bad because she didn’t have anywhere else to go and she did have Bipolar Disorder. I let it go on far to long, that’s for sure.

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