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V Unwell Passive Aggressive Relation(27 Posts)
I am feeling so awful. I have a family member who is very unwell with a chronic life limiting illness but I find them so hard to deal with.
I come away feeling angry and guilty and sad and confused and its just such a shame I can't enjoy time with them. They have always been difficult. I know there's no reason for them feel this way about me.
But there is a perceptible sentiment of anger under some of their comments. But they're never out and out unreasonable, it's not something I can tackle without me looking awful because on one hand they're not overtly aggressive and because they are also very unwell.
I have to see them, and I love them but I am so conflicted and guilty about it all. I feel a fraud because I sit and listen and say all the right things but I feel I'm just acting and watching the clock waiting to get away from them.
I'm quite certain they don't know. I feel quite helpless to deal with it because their attacks are so couched in normalcy.
And this person is really ill so what sort of monster am I to even care about how it makes me feel?
This post is such a jumble. I'm hoping someone gets what I'm saying and helps me unpick it a bit.
There's nothing wrong with feeling the way you do. Do you not feel able to discuss how you feel with them, you never know it might clear the air maybe.
I have tried previously over something that really hurt. They didn't acknowledge it and saw it very much me being sensitive. This was some time ago. They did behave better for a bit. I don't even feel I could now because of how unwell they are. I would have to be prize bitch to even tackle it with someone in that condition. I wish I wanted to spend time with them instead of dreading it. I wish I wanted to spend more time instead of keeping it to the acceptable minimum for then to felt cared for.
I know logically I am doing the best I can and that I have nothing to reproach myself for an that I am doing/saying what is expected of a loving family member. But I wish my head could be in it, instead of it being so false. I'd hate to think someone was feeling like this when they were with me and if I knew someone felt this way I'd probably prefer they buggered off rather than sit there feeling like they had to see me. But I can't let them down. I can't let myself down and feel trapped essentially into this shell of a relationship where I am just not actually connecting. Maybe they can sense it, which is why I feel helpless. Because we need to go through the motions.
As my MIL says 'nasty old people used to be nasty young people'.
Despite their life limiting illness this person has been like this with you a long time. I presume even before they became ill?
Do you really have to see them or can you limit contact?
Would you feel able to tackle them openly about to and ask why the anger with you? There may not be a lot of time to deal with this so what better time than now?
I see your point. I'm guessing I need a way of tacking it as it happens in a gentle but effective way rather than a specific chat after I've built up courage.
Yep it's been a constant thing. It's not a new thing that's arisen since the health issues. But before I could just easily have v little to do with them. But now I have to have a lot more.
Why not leave when they first start being that way?
What sorts of things are they saying to you?
OP, your post tells us about your own feelings regarding the person who is unwell but not about theirs. IME unwell people faced with this situation feel a great deal of conflict themselves, anger being just one emotion, and others are well documented so I don't need to go into them here. You could google Elisabeth Kubler-Ross on the subject of grief. Your own response to that also seems divided between duty and instinct which is manifesting itself in frustration and resentment, not unusually.
I think you should cut both of you a little slack here. Listening is the most important thing, you don't have to say all that much. Your family member needs an outlet/understanding/companionship. You would benefit by releasing yourself from expectations and guilt. Nobody can promise it will be easy but what it to be gained from beating yourself up over it?
"I have tried previously over something that really hurt. They didn't acknowledge it and saw it very much me being sensitive"
Are you writing about either your mum or dad here?.
This person really continues to bully you even now; this person has always been horrible and for likely no good reason either. I would think that they are really angry at themselves but cannot express that so the "easier" way for them is to blame others and you are their target here.
He/she may well be using their ill health as a further excuse/reason now to further get back at you, some nasty at heart people really do not apologise nor accept any responsibility for their actions. I read without too much surprise that this person has always been "difficult" to deal with and has now become a difficult person who is ill. Its still no excuse or justification for the ways in which you have been treated, their fundamental nasty nature has not changed.
You would not have put up with this from a friend, family are no different.
Raise your own too low boundaries a lot higher, do not tolerate any nastiness from them.
Was there an issue between the two of you some time ago to start this off?
Your family member needs an outlet/understanding/companionship.
I'm doing that, I'm nodding along and saying all the right things, being physically affectionate. I've got that bit right.
You would benefit by releasing yourself from expectations and guilt.
This is what I can't do. I want to connect emotionally but I have never been able to with this person. This is what is making me feel so sad/bad. That I can't connect in a way that I usually can. It feels false and forced and I hate that. It really bothers me that this relationship lacks that emotional intimacy that it should. I can't seem to not care about the subversive digs. I actually don't want to not care. I should care, but maybe it shouldn't matter anymore. Maybe I should be hurt but it not matter now. But it does and what sort of excuse of a person would care about a few digs when someone is so ill.
There's no specific event. It has just always been as thus but I am tied into contact and tied into the role of a loving relation. How awful does that sound. I've had other unwell relatives and it never felt like this
Sorry but not going to give any remotely specific info out. I know it probably makes it harder to discuss but I just can't run the risk of this person feeling that hurt.
"I just can't run the risk of this person feeling that hurt"
You're being far too nice, understanding and reasonable here to a person who has always been unreasonable and rude. Its not your fault that this other person is like this, you did not make them this way. This person does not deserve your visiting them.
You would not have tolerated this from a friend, family are no different.
He/she is actively choosing to act this badly around you.
Do you not matter here?. This person has never given your feelings any consideration whatsoever and likely does not care you are feeling so hurt. He/she probably feels entitled to treat you like this.
Thanks Attila. I know I don't deserve it. I know it's unfair. I have to see them. I think I am going to address it every time. By turning it back and trying to open a dialogue about the intention. This way I will feel like I am valuing both of us. If they choose to open up then great, if not then maybe pulling them up every time will stop it. I guess I need permission to even pull them up.
But even now I dread them replying in a way that makes my gentle but firm addressing of their behaviour into the actions of a cruel and unfeeling monster.
I think I am going to address it every time. By turning it back and trying to open a dialogue about the intention. This way I will feel like I am valuing both of us. If they choose to open up then great, if not then maybe pulling them up every time will stop it. I guess I need permission to even pull them up.
I think this is a really good idea, if they don't realise or come around then at least you can say you tried, I think if you don't try, you might regret it, it'll be their loss not yours in the end. Best wishes.
You have said several times
"I have to see them"
"I am tied into contact"
"before I could just easily have v little to do with them. But now I have to have a lot more"
Why do you feel you MUST be in contact with them? Have you agreed to do part of their care package? If so, I'd advise engineering a life situation that means you can no longer do this, step back and let social services handle it.
You don't like this person, and they don't like you. Why should you have to put up with their bad behaviour? We teach our children that "we don't have to spend time with people who aren't nice or kind" but you are accepting this abuse and then feeling guilty that you can't just shut up and take it.
Your responsibility for your own mental/emotional health takes HIGHER PRECEDENCE than making life easy for this unpleasant person. Put your own oxygen mask on first!
You are very much in a FOG (fear, obligation, guilt) state with regards to this relation. I would look at the website entitled "out of the fog".
You will never be able to emotionally connect with this person because they do not want to and they were not built that way. It is not your fault this person is like this and so difficult; he/she has always been like this with the main difference now that he/she is ill. Fundamentally in terms of personality that person has not altered.
You need to start valuing your own self a lot more (which itself is difficult if you have never been made to feel valued). What you have tried to date has not worked and has simply made you feel worse. Honestly it is ok to walk away from such an unfeeling relation.
What is this person's life expectancy, op?
OP: I am in exactly the same situation with a very close relative. In my case, it's my mum who has two life limiting illnesses plus a personality disorder.
She is now too old to change. What she is like now, is an amplified version of what she has been for her whole life. If your relative has a personality disorder, then there is nothing you can do about this - all you can do is to emotionally distance yourself, but still keep up the visiting/interaction etc.
It's a very tough thing and is emotionally draining
It is draining. It's like having to have a bath with jelly fish. I always get stung but I have to get in it every few days. I guess I need to mentally wear thick surfing gear. I just don't feel pulling them up will achieve anything. I feel awful for feeling like this when they are so ill, like how I feel shouldn't matter. And if it was something that had come about since the illness then I would take it on the chin knowing how awful their life must be, and I guess I'm trying to get to that place. But at the moment I approach our interaction with my guard up. Even if I had no guard I would still get stung. I wish I could get to a place where I could honestly put them ahead of me. I wish we could have a genuine connection. Maybe the upshot is that now, that disconnect is sharper than ever and feels magnified by the necessity of the contact and the knowledge that time isn't on their side. How will I feel with myself if I lose them without managing to achieve a genuine level of connecting? I guess some things are impossible and it's so unfair that we're in this situation. I doubt they chose their emotional make up any more than I did. Maybe it helps if I see their emotional difficulty as real and as immovable as their health?
How will I feel with myself if I lose them without managing to achieve a genuine level of connecting?
How would that be your fault? It's not your responsibility to change an abusive bully into a nice person, nor to torture yourself into insanity trying to "rise above it".
You might as well ask "How will I feel when this person dies and I realise I've wasted huge amounts of time and energy on them which could have been better spent on myself and my partner and/or DC"
"How will I feel with myself if I lose them without managing to achieve a genuine level of connecting?
How would that be your fault? It's not your responsibility to change an abusive bully into a nice person, nor to torture yourself into insanity trying to "rise above it"."
This. You just can't. My siblings and I are dealing with a very similar situation right now. Unfortunately, all you can do is shield your emotions and just keep the status quo. Can I ask why you're so keen on a genuine level of connecting? Is it the relationship between you and this person driving this?
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