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Being dragged into the life of Crazy relatives (sorry, Long)

(8 Posts)
peanutbutterkid Sun 07-Jun-09 10:26:59

I have a relation I'll call Jan.
Jan is emotionally unstable, prone to anxiety attacks and mania, substance abuse, etc. I am not good at handling emotional volatility, it completely does my head in, so I keep distant from Jan and her family.
Jan has fraught relations with most people.

Jan has a daughter, Cara, who I am quite fond of. Cara is 23, stunningly beautiful and surprisingly sane considering her upbringing. Although she does have mental health issues, she had a nervous breakdown a few years ago from trying to deal with sex abuse issues in her childhood. 2 months ago Cara moved across the country to live with her boyfriend. Cara is currently refusing to return her mother's calls.

Jan just found out she has breast cancer; she is due to go in for a lumpectomy with radiotheraphy to follow.

Jan is falling to pieces (hysterics) about the prosect of surgery and "cancer". Jan wants me to phone Cara and ... I'm not sure what Jan expects. Whenever Jan tells me I start to shut down because I don't want to get caught up in the tangled mess of her life. Probably Jan wants me to persuade Cara to leave her boyfriend (Jan doesn't approve of the relationship) or at least ring her mother.

I have such mixed feelings about the situation. I sympathise with Jan, but I sympathise even more with Cara NEEDING space from her crazy mother, too. And I don't want to get entangled in their emotionally messy lives (maybe I'm selfish, but is it so unreasonable to want to protect my own sanity, too?).


peggotty Sun 07-Jun-09 10:41:27

So, does cara not know about Jan's breast cancer?

peanutbutterkid Sun 07-Jun-09 12:59:10

I think that Cara doesn't know, Peggotty.
Jan could write a letter to tell Cara, but that's probably not "immediate" enough for Jan.

If Cara did know... when she rush back to be by her mother's side for the next week or 2, should she disrupt her life to do so? I'd just hate to be responsible for Cara getting sucked back in when she has just managed to make this big (and imho, much needed) emotional break from her mother.

I think Jan needs to find a breast-cancer support group, and not lean so much emotionally on Cara. Jan isn't organised enough to do that, though, I reckon.

drinkyourmilk Sun 07-Jun-09 13:06:22

I would say that regardless of how much space i wanted from my mum i would want to know if something this serious happened to her. However i agree that it's not your place to do it, and that i understand completely why you don't want to get involved.

Would you feel comfortable calling cara and advising her to call her mum?

If not then you you need to be very firm with Jan and tell her directly that you are not getting involved and she needs to either write an email/letter if she wants cara to know.

Just a word of warning - you may get flamed by Cara for not telling her.

peanutbutterkid Sun 07-Jun-09 13:19:21

Cara knows full well how prone her mother is to histrionics, I think she would forgive me, actually.

I thought about chatting to Cara, not being specific why but suggesting that she drop her mother a postcard saying "Good luck; I love you and I'm sure you'll be fine." I know that sounds too detached, but I also think Cara has the right to stay uninvolved considering the whole history.

As a child Cara was removed from her mother's custody for a long time (lived with Godmother and other relatives instead), that's how unstable Jan became. At one point I badly wanted to get custody of Cara, but I wasn't in a good position to do so. If I have to prioritise somebody's welfare in this situation it'd be Cara.

wonderingwondering Sun 07-Jun-09 18:43:36

But Cara is a 23 year old woman - whether to make contact with her mother is her decision. Not yours. The breast cancer is a major issue, and Cara has the right to know - the changed circumstances may mean she now decides to make contact.

You should pass the information on, make it clear you're there to support whatever she, Cara, chooses to do, and let her decide.

Jux Sun 07-Jun-09 18:54:29

Tell Cara. You really shouldn't withhold this information. She is a grown up.

psychomum5 Sun 07-Jun-09 19:03:00

speaking as a woman who was removed from my own mothers care as a baby, also has abuse issues in my past (connected to my mother, altho not instigated by my mother I hasten to add), and I too have had to take the choice to distance myself (altho not completely unfortunately, which leads to problems still), I would want to know, and would prefer it thru someone such as you (who understands) rather than a letter or emial form my mother (the only way she could as she has no contact details for me..........even letters get passed on thru my aunt).

please let cara know.

she can then make her own choice what to do, and how to do it, without having the guilt of it being her mother do it due to not having any other way, and also in the way her mother might do it (ie, hysterical ramblings with exageration etc).

plus, if she does get tearful, I think she would rather it be on a sympathetic family member. think how bad she would feel if she got tearful on her mother, then her mother uses that as a weapon during treatment etc.

oh, and if cara is a stable as she sounds she might be now she has the distance, you won;t be dragged in by her................cannot speak for jab tho.

good luck!!

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