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I need to understand why this keeps happening to me

(70 Posts)
Lollypoppop Sun 08-Sep-13 21:51:46

I seem to have a very strong track record of ultimately being let down by my friends. This has happened for as long as I can remember. It usually takes the form of a long term friendship suddenly disintegrating and it always takes me completely by surprise. For example, my best friend for 6 years all thorough secondary school suddenly dropped me because her boyfriend didnt like me. Funnily enough two years later I met him at a party and he decided I was a suitable friend after all and she tried to rekindle our friendship but it couldn't be done by then.
Around the same time I discovered a friend was stealing from me when I spotted her wearing a unique silver ring of mine. There was no confrontation but the relationship couldn't continue.
That happened again when I discovered that a friend I had known since babyhood and was regularly babysitting for my children was also regularly stealing from our home. She got away with quite a lot because I totally trusted her. There are lots of other examples I could give but this week I have had two more experiences.
I run my own business and one of my employees who has grown to be a friend over the years we have worked together has suddenly announced that she is leaving, doesn't want to work her full notice period and will not negotiate the leaving date despite having no other job to go to (she wants to set up her own business) but this is our very busiest time of year. We also just lost another member of staff two weeks ago and i directly asked her if she would be able to do extra hours in the coming months to help out. she said yes, but 10 days later hands in her notice! it almost seems as if shes being vindictive to leave now. She also knows all about the stress I have at home, ds has recently been diagnosed with asd and ADHD and he is incredibly challenging, she knows I have been on the brink for many months now and I thought she cared but she can't have done, can she? I asked her if she would stay just a couple of weeks to give us time to recruit a replacement but she refused. I don't know why.
Also this weekend my sister suggested I might like to look after her kids today as she had a lot of work to do. I happily had them for the day but at the end of it I had an unpleasant realisation.
She is a teacher and has had the whole summer off, I have had an extremely hard time as my ds got excluded from his summer play scheme (his special needs mean he is very explosive and impulsive) so I had no childcare. I suggested that we had one another's children but she declined and said she would prefer her kids not to be with ds. Obv I found that extremely difficult but accepted her view. But now that she needs help it is no longer a problem! So clearly it was just an excuse for her to be able to avoid having to help me.
So, there must be something I am doing to make this happen. I am not blaming myself but I know that I can only change my own behaviour, not that of other people. But how? What is it that I am doing? People say that I am assertive and confident and I think I am but why is it always such a sudden shock when people let me down? time and time again I must be lining myself up for this?

CailinDana Sun 08-Sep-13 22:26:51

What sort of relationship do you have with your sister?

Lollypoppop Sun 08-Sep-13 22:35:52

We were close when we were growing up but I was very much in her shadow, she mothered me and looked after me, i idolised her. She was very popular and got all the attention. When we got older though and I began to become my own person she didn't like it and has been seemingly resentful ever since. I guess now she thinks I am 'more successful' than her. Time and time again I have tried to talk to her and say I just want a relaxed relationship with her but it never really works.

CailinDana Sun 08-Sep-13 22:45:46

What I'm wondering is why you accepted her view on your ds and didn't question why it was suddenly ok for her kids to be around your ds?

Lollypoppop Sun 08-Sep-13 22:54:23

I told her how hurtful it was but she said that it was her ds who didn't want to see my ds, so i guess I accepted it. But nephew seemed totally keen to play with ds today so that's obv bullshit. I was so delighted at first that I would be 'allowed' to see my niece and nephew and they could play with my dc that I only just realised the manipulation once they had gone home.
If I look back over the years I have looked after her dc 20 times as often as she has looked after mine no exaggeration. She has been awful in many ways about my ds' special needs, minimising and dismissive and her dh clearly dislikes ds.

CailinDana Sun 08-Sep-13 23:00:47

Why do you put up with that?

mamafridi Sun 08-Sep-13 23:05:55

I think the first thing you have to ask yourself is what do you expect from the friendships you make. No one person will ever fulfill your list of needs and you shouldn't expect them to. And more often than not, don't expect kindness back just because you were helpful, nice, generous or whatever else to them. Have low expectations - that's what I have learnt over the years and the multitude of let downs I have had from past friendships. It might seem overly cynical, but it has worked for me and I don't get half as hurt now as I used to.

mamafridi Sun 08-Sep-13 23:08:22

And your sister sounds like a right cow. Stop looking after her kids!

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Sep-13 23:11:27

Why didn't you confront your "friend" about the ring she stole?

Have you told the employee that you will take her to court if she doesn't respect her employment contract?

Are there any consequences to people who take advantage of you?

addictedtofarmville Sun 08-Sep-13 23:11:28

I agree with mamafridi; I used to feel much the same as you do, OP, but over the years I have adjusted my expectations of people and keep people, even good friends, at arm's length these days. I feel that this works better for me. I think in the past I've let people in too much and too quickly, and then been let down. I tend to really take my time these days to suss someone out and to judge what they are like as a person, before I consider them a friend.

I am also far less tolerant than I used to be, and these days I am much better at cutting people out that behave in an unpleasant way towards me. I think that now I have cut people off myself before they have had a chance to hurt me, if I feel the friendship may at some point go that way.

Lollypoppop Sun 08-Sep-13 23:17:53

Good question, why do I? But how exactly do I 'not put up with it'? I told her how hurtful it was and I told her I needed her support now more than ever. She remained unmoved.
With the person leaving at work I told her how upset I was at her manner of leaving (giving little notice, at worst time of year and after other member of staff leaving) and that I felt it was very unreasonable of her to mislead me when I asked that direct question and I asked her why she had lied to me (I admit that I was very emotional at this point) so she got very upset with me and ended up storming off and screaming that she would just leave then and there and never come back. Subsequently, I apologised for being over emotional (although she didn't apologise in return for her over emotional outburst- apparently it's Ok for her to scream at me because I asked her why she lied to me). We talked she gave me some more contradictory 'reasons' why she was going and said she knew it was the worst possible timing but would apparently will not consider staying for just two weeks to help the business and me out. I didn't want to inflame the situation by calling her on the inconsistencies in her reasons for how she is leaving but now I am totally impotent just like I was with my sister. If I try to put across my point of view again I will just end up with her going off again and will never get any answers so what is the point?

SinisterSal Sun 08-Sep-13 23:19:19

Maybe you are not a very good judge of character, Lollypopop? Not an attack. But you seem to assume people are basically decent, whereas other people spot the signs. I ask because I am this way too, think I know someone and trust them, then an unpleasant side comes through that was actually in plain view all along.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Sep-13 23:21:18

I think you are a bit too soft.

Lollypoppop Sun 08-Sep-13 23:25:20

cotedazur, I didn't confront the 'friend' about the ring situation because my granddad had made the ring and had recently died, when I saw her wearing it I was very sad and didn't have the resilience to confront her about it. She knew that I knew and she was clearly ashamed.
I already don't let people very close to me because of all this but it seems that people find a way to hurt me despite it. Or am I just setting myself up as a victim? I'm not sure, I don't think anyone would see me that way. I have a successful business and I generally speak my mind, another friend has sadi I am the most assertive person she knows. I do try to be kind and caring to others and take time to listen to their problems and help where I can, but that is a human impulse surely?
I had completely given up looking after my sister's dc but the prob is I never see them if I don't and me and my dc miss them. Also, then my mum has to do the childcare I no longer do.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Sep-13 23:25:44

What can possibly be the point of badgering an employee about the reasons she wants to leave [puzzle] and then when she lies, going on about why she lied?

You could have just said "No, you give your written notice three months in advance, as detailed in the employment contract you signed or I will take you to court."

Bumpstarter Sun 08-Sep-13 23:27:19

How to do choose your friends?

It seems like they just show up in your life and take advantage of you. I have a friend in rl like this. It drives me bonkers. She does things she doesn't want todo because they asked her to, and then complains about it to me. Argh. I don't have a lot of friends, but they are very carefully chosen. People who I can see act according to principles.

CoteDAzur Sun 08-Sep-13 23:28:47

It is a souvenir from your recently deceased grandfather - how could you just leave it in her hands? shock Go get it from her tomorrow!

I'm really sorry to say this but it sounds like you look weak and these people don't respect you. You sound like a nice person, but people around you are taking advantage of you and will continue to do so until you grow a pair and start demanding respect. And show them consequences when they cross the line.

Lollypoppop Sun 08-Sep-13 23:29:22

I am not a good judge of character, thats for sure. But how do i become one? Do I just trust no one?
I do assume people are basically decent and that they have a moral compass but time and time again it just doesn;t line up with my moral compass.
I do cut people out when they hurt me (except my sister, although i have cut down our contact by about 75%) but I never see it coming so can never preempt it.

SinisterSal Sun 08-Sep-13 23:30:28

It's a nice sentiment to say you'd like to see your sisters' kids, but if her DH doesn't like your DS it's not fair on him to bring him into that atmosphere.

A bit off the point there - sorry

SinisterSal Sun 08-Sep-13 23:33:02

I suppose be very very circumspect around people until they have earned you respect? Be a bit of a cold fish until you've seen people do right even when it goes against their self interest. It doesn't come naturally to me, either, but I have started a fairly box ticking approach when it comes to acquaintances.

Jagdkuh Sun 08-Sep-13 23:39:47

Basically, you are too placid, and do not right wrongs done to you. what your sister does and says is disgusting. you have doormat sewn into your earthly fibres. fight back or wilt.

Lollypoppop Sun 08-Sep-13 23:41:00

cotedazur, the employee wants to take her remaining holiday out of her notice period therefore leaving very shortly. Of course, I could say no but she can say try and stop me. We both know It's not worth my while taking her to court as it would cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. I have no problem at all with her wanting to leave it's the spurious reasons why she is going right now that bother me. I just feel she should have enough respect to tell the truth. I wonder though if one of the reasons is that she is actually scared of me? She was clearly very nervous to tell me she was going and my first reaction was to tell her I would miss her very much it was only when she said how soon she wanted to go that I got bothered.
what exactly ARE the consequences when someone crosses the line?

Lollypoppop Sun 08-Sep-13 23:55:03

My sister's behaviour is disgusting. I have thought so many times of ending the relationship and had worked her out of my life a lot. I just accidentally fell into my old pattern again. I will get back on the wagon there.
My ds only very rarely sees sister's dh (at larger family gatherings) and will not interact with him anyway. I hardly interact with him either.

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 02:23:39

I think you're way too bothered about people liking you. Yes, of course we all want everyone to like us - but that's never going to happen - and you are right to treat people as well as you'd like to be treated.

Humans being varied, though, some will view your nice qualities as weaknesses and try to take the piss. This is the point where you STOP wanting them to like you, and give them both barrels. I suspect you 'know' this, but don't live it ... or I could be projecting, as I'm still working it myself!

Actually, if this thread sums the total of your disappointments, you haven't done too badly at all. Everyone gets shafted now and again - you don't seem to have attracted bad behaviour. You could have put a more decisive stop to things, and it looks as if you're about to improve on that big time, with your sister!

Re your departing co-worker, it's safe to assume there's a reason you will not like or something dreadful's happening to her. Otherwise, she'd have gone about this differently. There can't be much point in poking her for reasons - but it might be prudent to make her sign an anti-competitive agreement, just in case.

Practise your Powerfully Angry stance. Mine's pretty good these days wink

GreetingsFrontBottom Mon 09-Sep-13 03:33:53

I think you are being a bit oversensitive about your employees' behaviour - it is nothing personal. They have just both decided to leave. The business is not their responsibility.

As for your DSiS, I would be having nothing more to do with her, I am afraid. She doesn't sound like a very nice person.

Beyond that, try to find some nice new friends and don't put up with shit from people. If someone takes advantage of you, show them the door. If someone steals from you, call the police.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 07:41:31

Garlic, this is not the total of my disappointments, just a representative sample. Every long term friendship has ended in this way. I look around and see lots of people who keep their friends for decades yet I don't seem able to. Why?
With the employee I guess there must be something else going on but she has shared very personal things with me in the past and vice versa. She knows that my ds has been seen by Camhs and we have been in such a difficult situation recently that they referred us to social services for emergency respite care. She also knows that there is another member of staff having some mental health issues (which I am trying to support her through) and has taken some time off, and she knows this is literally the worst week of the year to go. I really don't think I am over sensitive to be mightily pissed off that she will not stay just a few extra days after seven years working together- it's really not much to ask is it? I have a friend who had a very unpleasant working environment and awful boss. She got a new job but still worked more than her notice period (even though new job wanted her because she felt it would be wrong to leave the old business in the lurch. (I know I am not an awful boss by the way because she has told me many times that I am great to work for- maybe I should have been meaner?

Dont make the mistake of confusing friendly behaviour with real friendship.

I would be very careful mixing business with pleasure. Employees are not friends. They never will be, because the power balance is uneven. They will want to remain friends with you because they work for you. They dont want to lose their jobs. They will act friendly and listen to you, and they may chat with you. But at the end of the day, they are there because they are paid. They are however not meant to be, or paid to be your therapists.

"She also knows all about the stress I have at home, ds has recently been diagnosed with asd and ADHD and he is incredibly challenging, she knows I have been on the brink for many months now and I thought she cared but she can't have done, can she?"

She is coming into work every day to have her ear bent about all this? It must have caused her immense stress listening to you day in and day out taking confidences. I think you have possibly been burdening your staff with your personal problems, and they have finally had enough and given notice.

It seems there is not only a difficulty judging character, but keeping the right boundaries in place.

Just saw your last post.

So, this employee who is now leaving, has a boss on the brink, and a colleague with mental health problems who has taken leave.

And you dont understand how she can be uncaring and let you down? Honey, can you imagine what her work environment is at the moment? Is she also covering for the employee on leave? At some point she has to say enough is enough, she cant take any more. It is not her duty to support you and help you through crisis after crisis.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 08:30:16

She never works with the other employee, hardly ever even sees her (they work opposite shifts) and has not covered anyone's leave. The working environment is great, we have a lovely team who are all very friendly, get along well and our staff retention rate is ridiculously long, people invariably stay for years and years, so it can't be that.
Other friends tell me I don't express myself enough and I should ask for help more because looking from the outside it seems like everything's fantastic.
I am not a robot and can't hide all my personal life at work, but for the most part i do. work is my respite and its a relief to forget the stresses and strains of home life while i am there. also had a relationship outside of a purely working one and obv both shared our lives with one another like friends do.

cuillereasoupe Mon 09-Sep-13 09:17:01

So two of these incidents date from years ago when you were late teens and two relate to employer/employee relationships? I think you're being over-sensitive.

springydafty Mon 09-Sep-13 10:27:37

Possibly some good points, above, but ultimately deck chairs on the titanic imo?

the root of this is your sister. You grew up with, had a key relational dynamic formed by, to a large degree, a toxic individual; a woman, who 'should' be your friend, have your back. Only she didn't have your back and was exploiting you. (That's bourne out now: if you don't adore her, she makes you pay.) She is/was playing with you, manipulating you and exploiting you. You're deeply confused that this relationship keeps repeating. Your sister would have blinded you to what she was doing, schooled you in disabling your instincts - and you are still blind, hence the almighty shock when your sister friend (even if employee) does it again.

I'd suggest this primary relationship is the titanic at the root of all the betrayals (let's call this what it is re your recent employee: she's fucked you over) - always 'sudden' (to you) - and is the reason you fall into this old pattern time and again. You probably attract people who are [like] your sister, have the same characteristics ie fuck-you-over characteristics.

I suggest you find out all you can about toxic individuals and behaviour. Knowledge is power. The fact that you didn't exclaim when you saw the ring on your 'friend' /sister - and that she had THE NERVE TO WEAR IT IN YOUR PRESENCE! - does suggest something key in you has been deactivated, to the point that you can't screech "THIEF!!" when someone blatantly steals from you. Your sister has been blatantly stealing from you all your life and maybe you need to look at that?

cuillereasoupe Mon 09-Sep-13 10:39:26

I disagree to a certain extent, springy, in that I don't think it's at all helpful to the OP to frame at least her relationship with her employees in terms of betrayal. I think she is expecting a "friendship" degree of loyalty from people whose relationship with her is primarily contractual in nature, and relating that to episodes of teenage immaturity years ago is forming a pattern that I'm not convinced is there.

LeBFG Mon 09-Sep-13 10:46:38

The people I know who have maintained long term friendships tend to keep them a bit at a distance - meet up a few times a year and communicate with texts/phone conversations but not live in each other's pockets.

Good friendships (for me) are where there is a bit of mutual dependancy - where you ask favours from each other - that way it never becomes one-sided. When I think of friendships that have ended like you have described, I think there were clear warning signs - borrowing stuff that never got returned, always me making the effort or buying the drinks.

I disagree with some posters about keeping people at arms length until they pass some tick-test - I think this would just lead to having a lot of aquaintances rather than real friends.

Perhaps you're not reading the warniing signs very well?

springydafty Mon 09-Sep-13 10:57:21

It's hard to keep people at a distance when your crucial boundaries are non-existent. ie toxic people exploit your boundaries to the point you don't have any. Her sister would have been working on her from the year dot - which may have flowered big time when OP was a teenager but it would have been there all along.

For example OP would probably find it difficult to differentiate between a contractual relationship (employer/employee) and 'friend' (which actually means 'sister' imo. Because she, or her toxic manoeuvering, set the tone for female relationships?)

springydafty Mon 09-Sep-13 11:33:02

I still think, though, that to bugger off at the crucial time of the year, with barely any notice, is crap and, yes, betrayal.

cuillereasoupe Mon 09-Sep-13 12:07:26

OP, can I ask how many kids does your sister have, and how long were you suggesting you exchange childcare for over the summer?

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 12:36:09

Cuillierasoupe, there are more examples of issues I've had with friends over the years. The examples here were ones that were easiest to relate briefly and from various points in time.
I know the problem is with me. It has to be, I am the common denominator in all this! That is hood as i have the power to change my own behaviour (no one has the power to change other people) but what exactly is my mistake? Is it just ordinary bad luck that people let me down and the problem is i am over sensitive and therefore over- react? do i have unreasonable expectations from relationships? What is the problem and how do I break the cycle?
Springydafty, I do think that I put myself in this position so consistently that it must be almost 'hard-wired' into me from an early age, i know its not my parents (i have a great relationship with them, this may also be one of the problems my sis has with me as she does not have the same rapport that i fo with them) my sister is undoubtedly toxic. I always feel awful after having contact with her, i vow i wont let her do it again but yet I put myself in the line of fire time and time again.
The fact that I did not confront the ring stealer and get my ring back is crazy. But whenever I do stand up for myself people have a hissy fit and make me out to be the unreasonable one.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 12:37:50

We have 2 dc each. I was suggesting the odd day here and there.

cuillereasoupe Mon 09-Sep-13 12:47:38

OK thanks lolly. I ask because from a teacher's perspective having "the whole summer off" isn't as relaxing as it sounds, and I don't think it's that unreasonable not to want to take on someone else's kids and look after your own for weeks on end. But not agreeing to the odd day here and there is a bit off of her.

SleepyCatOnTheMat Mon 09-Sep-13 12:47:45

The thing is, the relationship with the employee may be a contractual one rather than a genuine friendship but even within those parameters the employee is behaving badly. OP, when this woman's new business fails, which statistically it is likely to - only 35% of businesses keep going for more than 5 years, and she wants to work for somebody else again and asks you as her last employer for a reference whatever you do don't give her one.

SleepyCatOnTheMat Mon 09-Sep-13 12:52:20

P.S. It's worrying your sister is a teacher when she has such an appalling attitude towards a child with special needs, OP.

And I would do some research into what legal action you can take against your employee, it might not be as expensive as you think.

cuillereasoupe Mon 09-Sep-13 13:11:36

even within those parameters the employee is behaving badly

That may well be the case, but the problem is how personally the OP should be taking what is at bottom an employment issue.

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 13:30:29

I agree with every word Springy wrote. The key phrase is always 'sudden' to you. Your expectations and boundaries are misplaced. There are signals you're missing from others, and signals you're not giving out. The root is your sister (and perhaps your parents.)

This is not about things you 'should do', it's a question of the subtle interplay going on all the time between people. Your side is weak in some areas. You (we!) fix this by addressing our self-perceptions; the love you hold for yourself; what you think you're worth and how strongly you protect your value.

I think it's great that you're tackling your sister. It will shift this whole balance somewhat, and hopefully give you a starting boost. Please don't just turn away from her - do your best to state your case, strongly, to her face, and rebuff her excuses. I'm not saying this will change her; it will change you.

Use this thread for support. All the best!

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 13:37:07

Btw, I wouldn't set too much store by your friends' opinions of your assertiveness. True assertiveness in young women generally shocks people. Your friends probably mean you're decisive, know your own mind, etc. It's not the same: you can't be assertive without those qualities, but you definitely can have them while still being unassertive!

You are worth standing up for, strong and proud.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 16:05:34

Garlic baguette, I think you are right there. I do know my own mind and I am decisive until it comes to relationships and what is reasonable to expect in a natural give and take, interdependent friendship. I'm not assertive because I don't ever know if I'm being reasonable!
This relationship with my sister is definitely at the centre if this problem. What happens is that I placidly accept a lot of bad behaviour and as time goes by people behave more s d more unreasonably towards me because I do all that they ask of me and never ask for anything in return. Eventually, they do something that even I cannot tolerate but because they have got used to me being a complete patsy they are totally shocked by me asserting myself at last and they therefore spring into defensive mode and cast themselves as the hard done to party. This is the end of the relationship (except with my sister I always end up putting the issue aside as she is family).
So I have to find a way of being someone who asks other people for favours not just offers them out!

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 16:30:12

What an insightful reply smile Good for you!

magicturnip Mon 09-Sep-13 16:46:41

I agree with garlic. We all get shafted by arseholes. We all have people we have gone out of our way to help dump us inexplicably or treat us horribly. It just happens. I bet you have good people in your life too.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 20:47:38

Guess what, the employee has told us today that she will not be back in ever, that's it. This is after we had a discussion where I said I was very disappointed she was leaving now at the busiest time of year, that she was insisting on taking her remaining holiday from her notice period and most importantly that she had lied when I asked her if she could do more hours over the coming months. I admit I was but when I asked her why she had lied she went ballistic screamed that she would not be talked to like this and and stormed off. Afterwards I went and apologised for upsetting her and we appeared to had smoothed it over and both said we wanted to part on good terms after many years happily working together. Well, I guess she must have gone home and discussed this with her family because her mum rang up (she is 30 btw) and told us she would not be coming back ever and all she wanted was for us to leave her alone and let her get in with her life (a rather bizarre statement as i certainly havnt been harassing her, this conversation was the first and obviously last cross word we have ever had between us and afterwards I apologised unreservedly for crossing the boundary (i was too harsh i think) Obviously, directly asking someone why they lied to you is too harsh for anyone to answer and that is why she went off. But as I said, it was resolved that day, we hugged and said how much we valued one another and i aplogised 20 times so again it's rather strange that now she cannot return. Maybe the prob is that she did blatantly lie, and now she has been exposed cannot face me? I just don't know.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 20:48:58

Magic turnip, I always think I have good people in my life but I am struggling to think of anyone who hasn't made me feel this way in the end.

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 21:08:56

Well, SIBU obviously, and I suspect you may have overlooked - or failed to notice - her inability to act like a responsible grown-up in the past.

You should always have a Plan B available for such events. Hardly any small businesses do, and that's understandable, but being dependent on specific individuals puts you in a weak position.

Bit of a turning point for you this week, innit?!

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 21:15:57

This is a little imaginative flight; I may be completely off-track. Your sister relies on you for instant childcare, right? And other things; probably has since you were big enough to be of service. So she reckons you'll always be there for her, in a kind of exaggerated display of trust. And you rely on other people - friends; employees - to be there for you and to do what you trust them to do, even when that includes a co-worker standing in as friend/therapist for your troubles.

Were your parents very big on trusting people? Did they depend on people to do things for them?

CoteDAzur Mon 09-Sep-13 21:42:12

"I placidly accept a lot of bad behaviour and as time goes by people behave more and more unreasonably towards me"

^ This.

After the first couple of times you babysat for your sister but she didn't for you, it would have been easy to say "You know what, I'm not doing this again because you never return the favour". There would have been no need to get to this point where you are now considering breaking off with your sister.

And when someone steals from you, you tell them to give it back immediately or else you will immediately call the police and report her theft. You don't let it go, ever.

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 22:50:30

My parents are trusting and always think well of people and i guess they did rely on people to do things for them but not in a needy way. They employed people too. I'm sure there is something in there that is the example I have learned from but I'm not sure what. My mum has dozens of friends, most if whom she has known for decades.
My sister knows now that no matter how badly she behaves I will always be there so she will continue to do so.
Here is another staff conundrum. I got a text from one saying were they needed at work cos they were free all day. I text back and said yes, that would be great and she immediately text back saying she just had to go somewhere at 3pm for half an hour. Its totally minor and would be petty to say something but she is not free all day! She also on another day said that she could work, then said she had a docs appt at 5pm do would need to leave early, no problem. Then she later said it was half four, then said it was 3.30! So what do you do in that situation? i am clearly being messed around yet she does have a complicated back story. The same person insisted on taking a weeks holiday at an in convenient time again for the business (other people had already booked the week off) she said she absolutely had to have the time because she was going to be distraught with grief as it was the 12th anniversary of a death in the family. She got very very angry and upset when i tried to reason with her. During the week though she popped into work and said she was just on her way to a party! I know for a 100% fact that if I asked her about that she would go off on one just like they all do and make me out to be done sort of evil employer! FFS!

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 23:30:28

With flaky employee, do you now ASK her EXACTLY what hours she can do, saying she's been unpredictable before? If needs be, send her a text or email after she's said "I can do 10 - 4 but must leave bang on 4" to confirm this precisely. Start using the word "unacceptable" (but don't overuse it, or you'll sound like my fuckwit boss!)

Please, please, please - read your sister the riot act! Face to face. Dn't back down.

And what Cote said smile

garlicbaguette Mon 09-Sep-13 23:31:20

she would go off on one just like they all do and make me out to be some sort of evil employer!

No, look, this is in the job description. Let them. It's normal!

Lollypoppop Mon 09-Sep-13 23:37:15

Garlic, I have tried that but some sort of emergency crops up and if it was genuine it would certainly require time off work. However, these things happen so frequently as to be unbelievable, yet I cannot say she is lying as I haven't got proof.
When I say Go off on one it has involved their mothers (and these are of adults!) ringing me up or coming in telling me how much I have upset their child with my unreasonable demands. ie expecting them to work to the requirements of the business at some point and not expect it to fit entirely around their lifestyle and expecting them to stick to the terms of their contract! How totally unreasonable of me!

ZutAlorsDidier Mon 09-Sep-13 23:48:04

I came on here to say I suspect a lot of this has to do with your sister but then read that you have already perceived this.

I think you are very good at perceiving patterns but not as good as you need to be about managing things to change the patterns. My advice (I am like this too so a bit "do as I say not as I do") is: if you can avoid it, at all, do not reply to propositions in the moment. If the person is asking a favour, take some time before replying and decide before you get back to them if they are manipulating you or taking the piss or not. A good way of taking time is to say you have to consult someone else (this need not be true). then when you are on your own, decide:

if you want to do it

if, broadly speaking, you do, have you been doing most of the favours? Is this by chance or not? Maybe you can say yes but build in a condition, some kind of reciprocation, and see what happens ("I will get the drinks if you get the food" "Good news, I can look after your children this Wed, and I am going to need some cover next week so you can take mine then" - etc). If this is rejected you know where you stand

If you want to say no, you can prepare a clear assertive speech to say no

Similarly, you may be unwittingly repelling people who are good for you who want to help but you are confused by this and not able to accept. Next time someone offers to help you, do not immediately refuse. This is what I do. I say things like "no no no it's ok" "it will be fine, I will just move x and y and z..." "I've got it!" etc. Next time someone says, "can I bring something?" don't jump in with a no, give yourself a second with a holding response like "oh how kind, let me think" and then try to come up with something. they want to help. Learn to accept the good people and the kind acts.

I agree, go and get that ring back!

Good luck. you sound very nice and thoughtful.

wol1968 Mon 09-Sep-13 23:55:37

My suggestion re your employees is that you could do with some external management training. You need to deal with them on a professional, not a personal, level; having to deal with their parents, friends and relatives is not in your remit as an employer and they are in fact abusing your time - I would go so far as to say it's legally in harassment territory. You would be well advised to get an outside professional view on your situation and some proper training, as you appear to have learned most of what you know on the job, and need some space and time to put that into a broader context. Asserting yourself in this situation requires a very firm grasp of your legal rights and managerial requirements as an employer, and I get the feeling you're rather out of your depth with this.

Lollypoppop Tue 10-Sep-13 01:59:33

Zuralors, yes i do find it very difficult to let people do things for me, it really makes me feel uncomfortable and its almost like i cant accept. I do try to buy time with others asking of me but I can never make up my mind what is reasonable and where to draw the line. So I don't have confidence that I am 'in the right' iyswim.
Wol, you are right that their behaviour and bringing their mothers in is totally ridiculous. I have looked into management training but I think I have to sort this issue at a deeper level first ie. my subservient role to my sister. I think one of the issues is that we were always treated as a complete unit as children (I never did anything without her) and she always made all the decisions, so I never learned to do it for myself.
I don't know where to draw the line and so always that is exploited and if they are called on it I get emotional blackmail. I spotted dd doing it tonight, dh told her to stop swinging the dog lead round her head and she snapped at him I'm not! (She obv was!) a few mins later she was scraping her feet along the wall and he told her off, instead of just saying sorry she launched into an emotional tirade and spent an hour crying, all the time trying to manipulate me into coming to her aid. I ignored which just fuelled the outburst but eventually she relented. So a small victory for me tonight at last!

ZutAlorsDidier Tue 10-Sep-13 11:28:39

Well done, that sounds like a big victory actually, and you knew exactly what you were doing.
I think you should have the management training anyway even if you still have emotional stuff to sort out. The latter is a big life project, the former is something you can try to put into practice straight away. I think that was great advice by wol1968. You can be instructed very clearly in practices you can start to follow at once which will professionalise your whole operation, which may have a knock-on effect on your self-esteem - but will certainly make your business run more smoothly no matter what.

Here is a tip: you can decide what is fair in your head and if your conscience is clear it doesn't matter if others agree. Like you, I have a dominant older sister; I also have a certain friend whom I find problematic as she is very sure of herself, and we incline too much to fall into a leader / servant dynamic (she is an older sister too). We met through NCT and the group of us set up a babysitting circle. She left town while owing me many, many babysitting points (I earnt babysitting when I really didn’t feel like it, pregnant with dc2 and very tired, but no one else was up for it and I felt that someone had to keep the babysitting circle going). Then, last summer, I spilt some wine on her cashmere jumper (don’t ask me why she was camping, drinking red wine in the dark, in her cashmere jumper). She freaked out, she was enormously angry, she still has not forgiven me (mentioned it a year later this summer). I don’t care, because I have made my peace with the situation on the basis that she owes me about 20 hours’ work, work I did for her when I was shattered and felt sick and would rather have been in bed. In my head, 20 hours of my hourly rate buys her plenty of brand new cashmere jumpers. So I am fine with this, if anything, she owes me. She doesn’t know that I have made up this equation in my head and I don’t care that she doesn’t know. I’m fine. It’s hard work for me to be fine, because she is used to a dynamic where she is always in the right and I am used to a dynamic where I am always in the wrong. But I’m doing the work, and I’m getting there.

So this is the tip: work out in your own head what is fair, and don’t worry if no one else knows or agrees with you. Right now you are attracting the sort of people who will never agree with you, who believe they are always owed more. So don’t bother trying to convince them. Just work it out and stick to it. Over time, you will attract different kinds of people.

Best of luck.

springydafty Tue 10-Sep-13 14:45:02

I'd say it is extremely unusual for an employee's mother to ring up the company for her princess daughter. Unless she's 13. but you say this has happened more than once. These are clues about the type of people you are attracting into your life. A bunch of princesses who run to mummy; who backs them up to the big boss! It's embarrassing!

Your thread has given me so much thought Lolly because I recognise so much of what you are saying. I recognise eg not having any confidence in the way I express anger or frustration, assuming I am 'too much' when I do. It could be that the princess we were both in thrall to reacted extremely badly if we dared enforce a personal boundary around ourselves - how dare we make it clear we are separate to them, have our own needs and, crucially, our own rights. Your employees have done exactly the same, flouncing off and reading the riot act when you made a demand that clashes with what they want. I was very disheartened to hear that you apologised '20 times' - it wasn't for you to apologise, certainly not 20 times: it was for her to grovel that she had stuffed you one. Perhaps your fear that you [feel you] genuinely don't know what is going on and your zero confidence in your instincts that you are being taken for a ride compels you to apologise assuming you must have got it wrong. Also perhaps a great fear of being abandoned for standing up for yourself? Which suggests you have been terrorised for doing this, somewhere along the line.

I recognise being seen as one whole, no distinction, because my predominant toxic sibling (silent and deadly) and I are very close in age and we were almost always lumped in as one. I have another toxic sister (lucky me) who flings herself about in a similar fashion to your elder sister; and the flavour throughout the family is that I am the family's property. Like an inanimate object, a device. As a result I have found it very hard to integrate the truth that I am a full human being, not part of a whole, not anyone's property; mind or body - THAT I AM SEPARATE.

And that I do have a lot right, my judgement is very clear - often bang on - and I do know what I am doing. I suggest you do, too.

Lollypoppop Tue 10-Sep-13 16:02:35

Springy I know my parents never spoke to my employer on my behalf even when I was 13!
Yes, the apology was not warranted at all. I admit that I spoke harshly and did not conceal my indignace at her behaviour but the reality is I called her on lying to me and on not complying with the terms of her contract and on leaving very inconsiderate time- that is all unarguably true so why did I feel the need to apologise at all? I think it is the shock for her of getting away with it for so long, the only response she can come up with us to never talk to me again. Should I now just leave her well alone or should I attempt to set the record straight??

springydafty Tue 10-Sep-13 17:03:37

You could send a very straightforward letter, outlining the facts: that she dumped you at a crucial time, and lied. You don't have to use the word 'lied' but lay it out. Make it short. Then wash your hands of her - if she replies, send it back RTS. A new day, healthy, equal, fulfilling, joyful relationships beckoning smile

cuillereasoupe Tue 10-Sep-13 17:09:45

she owes me about 20 hours’ work, work I did for her when I was shattered and felt sick and would rather have been in bed

See this I don't get. A favour is something asked and granted (or not) freely, not some kind of imaginary spreadsheet. Surely if you felt she was taking the piss you could have just said "no" rather than totting up some imaginary total of what she "owes" you in your head?

springydafty Tue 10-Sep-13 17:12:48

It doesn't work like that cuille . OP is making the point that it was uneven. It's nigh impossible to keep track in toxic relationships, no point trying, best to give it up as a bad lot.

And yes, she did 'owe' 20 hours' work. But that's by the by now.

Lollypoppop Tue 10-Sep-13 19:15:33

It is impossible to keep track in a toxic relationship entirely because we were trained up from such an early age to accept this crap and manipulated into thinking that we should never expect and certainly not ask someone to do things for us. Even if that something is only treating us with respect and courtesy.
I am going to write a very short letter and then I will decide whether to send it or not.

Lollypoppop Sun 15-Sep-13 10:45:39

In the end I couldn't be bothered to write her a letter, I just decided to let it go.
Unfortunately, I've just had a bit of another let down. Nothing personal this time as I don't really know the person but just wondering what to say in reply. This is a nanny who had a trial with my dc (ds has special needs, but this nanny had years of experience working in a residential home for children with BESD so we thought she would be up to it). She said it was 'challenging' but subsequently she seemed quite happy and we arranged some more dates for her to look after them and that was apparently fine. Now she suddenly texts and says she has thought about it and now decided that she cannot offer the support we need. Now that is fine, but why did she waste our time arranging dates (we were planning to work) when she obviously must had had real misgivings about it? Why let us make plans, think we had something sorted and then suddenly pull out? Now, we are in an even bigger mess than ever.
The worst thing about this is that I had put a lot of time and effort into sorting out this childcare. I'd trawled through a huge list of nannies to make a short list of suitable ones, in the end I managed to arrange interviews with three and this one was the only one that actually turned up! So i know I can't just quickly find someone else!
(We have been referred to social services for emergency respite care by CAMHS after three weeks, we'd heard nothing so Dr said we should have heard from them within a week and he would chase them. I rang them myself too and they said someone would contact us but now another three weeks have gone by now and still nothing! So, coupled with the staff let downs we are in real trouble!)
Anyway, how do i respond to that text in an assertive way. i don't want to make her feel guilty for letting us down but I don't want her to 'get away with it' and not let her know her actions have had an impact on us.

Lollypoppop Sun 15-Sep-13 11:06:30

Feeling pretty crap today as dh had a real go at me last night when we got that text saying that her response an terrible indictment of our parenting. That I was too easy on the dc and needed to sort myself out and be a proper parent etc etc. I did point out that I thought we were both very good parents doing our absolute best in extremely difficult circumstances and we faced more challenges in one morning than most parents face in a month with their average dc but he just carried on listing my failings.
This morning I brought it back up and he apologised for it but why do I have to put up with this shit from people in the first place?

angelinajelly Sun 15-Sep-13 11:40:33

OP, I think you need to think about setting much clearer boundaries with people, both at work and at home, in terms of what you will and won't accept. All of your examples seem to involve you bending over backwards to accommodate other people's needs, and then getting hurt because they don't behave the same way towards you.

For example, the employee who "insisted" on taking annual leave at the wrong time for the business. It doesn't work like that. Standard employment contracts have in the ts and cs that annual leave can only be taken at a time agreed with management. If an employee asks for leave at a time that really doesn't work, say, sorry, no. If she shouts and screams, say "I'm sorry this is upsetting for you, but it can't be helped" and leave her to calm down and get on with it. If she threatens to take the time off anyway, remind her that that would be unauthorised leave and if she does she will be disciplined and ultimately dismissed. You don't have to be nasty about it, just calm, reasonable and above all, consistent. People might moan a bit, but eventually they will realise that your behaviour is always fair and they will respect that. And if they don't, allow them to walk away- they aren't any great loss to your business or your life.

Where the employees' mothers are concerned, just don't deal with them. Politely explain that it is a confidential matter between you and the member of staff and you are not able to discuss it with anyone else, and end the conversation.

If the one who has just left you in the lurch is not working her contractual notice period, you don't have to pay her for the "holidays" she is taking. You ultimately can't force her to turn in, and I agree that suing probably isn't a realistic option, but at least cut her money off.

You seem like a nice person who is trying really, really hard to be kind. You say that when you are assertive you are accused of being unreasonable- well that's not because you are unreasonable, it's because these are selfish, unprincipled people who will fight their own corner and say whatever they can think of to win. Have some faith in your own judgement and stick to your guns.

Lollypoppop Sun 15-Sep-13 12:19:13

'Have some faith in your own judgement and stick to your guns.' That I think is the crux of the problem, I don't have any faith in my own judgement at all, so people can always manipulate me into doing what they want. I don't have the courage of my convictions.
I think that when I was little my sister used to undermine my confidence in my own judgement. She would often belittle me and tease me for being silly or babyish or worst of all selfish. I had it drummed into me for so very very long that to be selfish was the worst possible thing I could do. I was very unhappy at school and she would always tell me that I could never say anything to our parents about it because that would be selfish. She said they were making a lot of sacrifices to send us to school (fee paying), so i could not say anything as they would be hurt.
She would tell me I was being selfish if ever I said what I wanted, and so now I can never say what I want. I don't even know what I want, I can't work it out because I've suppressed so much of myself for so very long. I have spent my entire life just thinking 'it doesn't matter what I want, just make sure everyone else is happy. They matter more, they must do because they are the ones who get upset if they don't get what they want. It doesn't bother me.' Why would it? I am so used to it that I feel scared if I have the responsibility of making a decision like what we should have for dinner as I think I will probably make the wrong choice and no one will enjoy it. Funnily enough, in some areas of my life, I am very, very confident in taking responsibility and making decisions yet in other parts of life I revert back to being this child who is scared of making a fuss and people thinking I'm unreasonable. I don't get respect because I don't expect it and don't truly believe I deserve it.

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