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I just don't know what to do here?


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So, I've had a rough relationship with my grandma for as long as I can remember. Me and my sister were partially raised by her because she lived in the same town and that was less expensive than day care/etc. 

But, for as long as I can remember she was abusive. Physically, verbally, emotionally. We were allowed no freedom around her. She literally had to have a constant eye (and I mean CONSTANT) on us even when I was a teenager. Like, couldn't even be in the bathroom for more than 5 minutes without her knocking on the door and questioning me. 

When I did get to be home, she would call the house sometimes upwards of 25 times a day. WITH my parents home. 

The bug mistake is when we moved in next door when I was in 5th or 6th grade. Then she really had a free reign. She would walk over to.our house and stare in the windows if nobody answered her 20th call of the day. She would let herself in if the door was unlocked. She was out of control.

As kids (after we lived next door) I DREADED summer vacation because it was all spent with her. She'd wake us up at 7 to do "room checks" because if our rooms were at all messy it was the absolute end and she would throw adult tantrums. 

Everything I've ever done has been criticized. 

She even told me that my parents got divorced because my mom didn't dress "sexy " enough for my dad (who is her son). And took no accountability as to how she was probably 99% of the reason they split. He's on his 3rd marriage and I think it's almost entirely because of her and his lack of boundaries with her (that are FINALLY getting good). 

I just remember being bullied for my appearance. Being too chubby, being too skinny, not being "fit" enough. Being told all of my opinions are wrong enough til you just shut up and then she's upset that you aren't engaging. 

She heavily isolated us from seeing our grandpa who LIVED IN THE SAME HOUSE. Like she alloted time that we could see him and that she had to have us exclusively to stare at for the rest of the day. And he was the kindest person and I miss him.

When he was dying I've learned that she basically was abusing him. My dad finally spoke about how he didn't want to be left alone with her when he was dying.

Then when she met my first serious boyfriend she berated us both into tears for moving in together (which WAS dumb on my end but very cruel on hers). 

But maybe the icing on the cake was her the week of my sister's funeral. My younger sister died about 6 months back of an overdose. Which is a whole story in itself. But by then we didn't have much of a relationship (me and my sister). But my grandma saw it appropriate THE WEEK OF HER DEATH AND FUNERAL, to blame the loss of the relationship on me (without knowing anything) and then asked me to be her housekeeper basically. 

Since then I've barely talked to her. 

I just got off the phone with her and she's crying and asking if I'm mad at her and she doesn't possibly know what she "could have done". And that I need to call her and see her so she knows I "still love her". 

I know I'm not including TONS of stuff. But I feel like that's a basic summary of her. 

It makes me sick because some part of me does feel like I owe her some more of my energy. But I literally cannot make myself interact with her. If she calls, I'll usually answer. But that's the most I can make myself do. I just feel bad because I KNOW she's miserable. But also she's done it to herself. She's so mean to my dad and he's the one that takes care of her. 

Its such a huge emotional difficulty in my life that I AM addressing in therapy. I just needed to get a little off my chest here too. I guess it isn't even a question so much as a rant. I KNOW there is no right choice. I feel bad if I ignore her,I feel bad when I do talk to her.

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Hey Spicy,

 

Well done for coming here, opening up, releasing some thoughts that have been bothering you.

 

In my opinion, it sounds like your Grandma put you through the ringer. As a mother with children myself, I just can’t imagine treating children and young teenagers like this. Horrible is putting it nicely. 
 

Just because she raised you, does not mean she owns you. You don’t owe her anything. You don’t owe her anymore of your love, time, thought. She will carry on with her behaviour if you stay and most likely get worse the more she fears you in the future, trying to pull away.

 

I think, spews your wings, put this behind you with the help of therapy that you are attending. Focus on the future, the now, all the good things in your life and the things you want for yourself. Your Grandma is a fully grown woman who has made her own bed - unfortunately, often these types of people deserve to lie in it.

 

You could write to her now and then. But you don’t have to verbally contact her or see her if you don’t want too. 
 

You have to look after yourself now. She hasn’t helped you and won’t start now.

 

I just wish you all the best and I am sorry for everything that happened - onwards and upwards! Life is complicated enough without in purpose letting someone like this remain and take up anymore of your energy and happiness!

 

Best,

x

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1 hour ago, Spicydicey449 said:

Since then I've barely talked to her. 

You're doing the right thing distancing yourself and grieving in your own way and relying more on trusted friends as a support network.

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I'm very sorry for your loss, Spicy.

You don't owe your grandma some more of your energy.  Don't interact with her.  Don't take her calls.  Have her leave voicemails.  Then text her this:  "Thank you for your voicemail.  .  . "  Text some generic, safe, extremely brief sentence and no more.  Keep the peace.  However, keeping the peace doesn't mean you'll have a close relationship. 

Don't feel bad when you ignore her.  What goes around comes around. 

There are several local relatives whom I'm not close to.  We cross paths every once in a while such as a recent funeral two months ago.  We are not close yet we're peaceful, polite and respectful.  I keep them at arm's length and maintain a deliberate, frosty distance.  It works.   I'm kind, cool and  extremely cautious always. 

Enforce healthy boundaries for yourself as I have. 

If her calls bother and irritate you, text her this:  "Please do not call me.  Thank you for respecting my wishes."  Do not complain nor explain.  Keep it short, to the point yet polite.  If texting bothers you, then do the same with texting this:  "Please do not text me.  Thank you for respecting my wishes."  

When you see her in person, remain polite yet distant.  There is a way to be civil and cool at the same time.  Practice makes perfect and you'll have this down to a science.   

Don't engage in a fight.  Be peaceful.  You do not agree with behaviors past and present.  She will not change.  The only thing you can do is alter your behavior and control your life. 

You control how much interaction you want or don't want with her.  This is what I do with people whom I don't like, don't trust or had a bad history with.  I know what some people are capable of, they've demonstrated their true ugly characters to me, deceived and betrayed me.  I'm never going back to the innocent, naive person I was once upon a time.  It's a real game changer when you are determined to be in the driver's seat from now on.  It's healthy control in your life and most of all, you guarantee that you'll never get hurt by some people ever again for the rest of your life just as I had done.  Once bitten, twice shy.

Create a safe bubble for yourself.  This will make you feel protected and secure. 

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This is why both my children have never met my husband's mom.  She is an abusive narcissist.  I also have not communicated with her in 11 years.  I am sorry he hurt you.   You should not feel guilt in any way.  Family is not just blood.  Family are people who care about you.  With your grandma, it's always only ever about her.  Don't buy the crying game one bit.  Please stick with therapy.  It will give you the tools to unpack what happened and work through it.

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Posted (edited)

My heart goes out to you for your loss of your sister, SD, and I am so sorry for your grief being compounded by this issue.

You are rightfully entitled to ANY decisions you may make on any given day.

It's understandable that you are feeling burdened by this particular choice rather than liberated by it. That's largely to do with having never been properly taught how to make decisions over the course of your formative years by being offered gradual freedoms to do so. 

Here's one tactic that might help: no decision you make on this matter 'must' be permanent.

So you're not locked in. You don't need to declare that you will NEVER deal with the woman, but rather, you can say, "I don't want to deal with her today, so I will free myself from thinking about this unless I wish to revisit it tomorrow or the next day--or whenever I would like to."

Sure, you can keep confirming this choice as often as you wish--or not. This is how an alcoholic, for example, can opt to stay sober for another day.

The point of deciding to NOT lock down your choice is to remove the burden of 'forever' by shifting it into an incremental one.

You were conditioned to believe that you 'owe' this woman compliance, and so it's natural that you find it difficult to buck that conditioning without suffering discomfort. However, you may find it easier over time.

One practice that could help is to write a letter, or many, that you won't send, but maybe will discuss or share with your therapist if you wish. The letter can even contain your list of requirements in order for you to even consider dealing with her again. For instance, "I cannot recall a single moment of loving kindness from you over the course of my life. The only thing that might prompt me to want to see you is the possibility of you offering me such an experience--one that you won't ruin by following it with cruelty or an attempt to induce guilt."

Head high, write more if it helps, and I wish you peace.

Edited by catfeeder
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9 hours ago, catfeeder said:

My heart goes out to you for your loss of your sister, SD, and I am so sorry for your grief being compounded by this issue.

You are rightfully entitled to ANY decisions you may make on any given day.

It's understandable that you are feeling burdened by this particular choice rather than liberated by it. That's largely to do with having never been properly taught how to make decisions over the course of your formative years by being offered gradual freedoms to do so. 

Here's one tactic that might help: no decision you make on this matter 'must' be permanent.

So you're not locked in. You don't need to declare that you will NEVER deal with the woman, but rather, you can say, "I don't want to deal with her today, so I will free myself from thinking about this unless I wish to revisit it tomorrow or the next day--or whenever I would like to."

Sure, you can keep confirming this choice as often as you wish--or not. This is how an alcoholic, for example, can opt to stay sober for another day.

The point of deciding to NOT lock down your choice is to remove the burden of 'forever' by shifting it into an incremental one.

You were conditioned to believe that you 'owe' this woman compliance, and so it's natural that you find it difficult to buck that conditioning without suffering discomfort. However, you may find it easier over time.

One practice that could help is to write a letter, or many, that you won't send, but maybe will discuss or share with your therapist if you wish. The letter can even contain your list of requirements in order for you to even consider dealing with her again. For instance, "I cannot recall a single moment of loving kindness from you over the course of my life. The only thing that might prompt me to want to see you is the possibility of you offering me such an experience--one that you won't ruin by following it with cruelty or an attempt to induce guilt."

Head high, write more if it helps, and I wish you peace.

Great advice Cat!

 

x

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I'm sorry for the loss of your sister.

I haven't seen or spoken to my "father" since I turned 18 and I'm in my mid 50s now. I put father in quotes because other than a few years from age 4 to age 10 he wasn't a father to me. He didn't pay child support when he and my mother divorced and he missed his visitation with my siblings and I frequently to go to bars. I figure, if he didn't care if we ate or care to see us, why should I waste any time on him?

No, I will not be sorry or regretful when he's gone and I won't wish we'd reconciled. I think the old coot is still alive, but if he dies and I find out I won't attend his service. If I'm told he's ill and about to croak I won't rush to his side. I show him as much caring as he showed me when I was a child.

Just because someone is blood related to us doesn't mean they are kind or caring or deserve to have us in their lives.

I would end the phone calls immediately. Don't pick up. If she writes, don't respond. If she goes through other people, tell them you don't wish to hear any messages from her. She can bear the fruits of her abuse and if she doesn't like it, too bad. She should have treated you better.

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I agree with Boltnrun and Cherylyn.  I don't believe blood is thicker than water. You are entitled to be treated politely and with respect by other human beings and if you are not you are entitled to take care of yourself whatever that means to you - cutting someone off, maintaining a polite distance -you do you and blood should not factor into it in any significant way. 

A couple of weeks ago I felt guilty because I blocked a close relative from contacting me on my cell.  My cell number was given to him without checking with me by another relative.  This relative has a severe mental illness.  He will not respect appropriate boundaries with my cell and likely will text repeatedly/call at all hours (and if I forget to put my ringer off could wake up the whole house).  I would have been fine with supplying my email. 

I texted the relative who did this and explained that I blocked this person and if she wanted she could give him my email.  Turns out he was calling to vent/for advice.  I called his next of kin who I am friendly with and explained that I could not help by speaking with the person but, supplied some links to potential resources.  Next of kin totally understood why I blocked and was extremely appreciative of my input on resources to assist. 

Person who gave my number saw nothing wrong with it because we are related.  It takes all kinds.  So you do you.  Truth -I felt guilty at first - and then validated -in particular my incredibly sweet and compassionate mom said I did the right thing. It's ok and normal to feel guilty when you choose you over "blood" -when you don't attend a funeral -so many "shoulds" and expectations.  I'm glad you posted and I hope it helped you feel validated.

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  • 1 month later...

I understand where you’re coming from. I have cut ties with my family because any interaction with them simply isn’t healthy for me. Blood is blood, but toxic is toxic and at some point you have to do what’s necessary to take care of yourself. You can lift the burden from yourself and that’s nothing to feel bad about. It may hurt, you’re human, but you don’t need to feel guilty about it. 

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You don’t have to feel guilty for letting her go. Keep distancing yourself and don’t pick up her calls. 

Do not become like your father, poor boundaries et al. 

You ARE allowed to go on with your life in peace without frustration, belittlement and harassment. Keep reminding yourself of this and let go.

I am so sorry for the loss of your sister and granddad.

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