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Old 06-08-2012, 09:47 AM
 
Location: California
313 posts, read 491,333 times
Reputation: 251

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About four months ago a very close relative passed away of an awful terminal illness. During that time I helped take care of her in her last year.

I'm still grieving about her death which has been made rougher by disinterested and passive-aggressive family members. While at the hospital I was literally berated by an aunt with sarcasm, demands, criticism, and no sympathy at all, I was treated as if I were a hated criminal; her ugly attitude and verbal attacks were so shocking, rude, embarrassing, and unexpected. She blasted me with sarcasm and orders as we stood outside my relative's death bed. That was extremely painful and unexpected for me considering I had been in contact with her regarding the health of the sick relative for nearly one year. She also kept lying, and accusing me and the dying relative that "She didn't know anything about the illness because she was never informed". This was a lie because she had visited several times and had been given a copy of diagnostic medical paper work so that she would be fully informed of the deadly cancer. I still feel harmed by her hatred, lies, and would like to address that with her. But I do not know how. Other family members have made excuses and strawman arguments on behalf of her provoking behaviors stating: "She had a bad childhood. She is bitter because she didn't know her father". Keep in mind this woman is in her 60s (not the age of a child) and she has absolutely no excuse for her lack of conscience and lack of empathy.

What has been a real kick in the pants is the reaction I got with the other family members (they seem to prize and take pride in uniformity and self-absorption as they typically act and respond the same). During the time of the ill relative's passing the rest of the family were generally disinterested in how I was doing. All they mentioned to me in a condescending broken-record repetition was : "Are you getting back into your routine?", "What are you eating? Are you eating the right foods?" and acting as career advisers (giving unsolicited advice). When they visited their attitudes were distant and very little eye contact was made with me (which gave me the creeps because I felt that they were hiding something). They shared almost no sympathy which again was a shock considering they knew how close I was to the relative who died. They made every conversation about themselves (including obsessive discussions about how amazing their Iphones are) and they dominated the conversations and didn't allow me to get a word in without being told what to do or condescended to. Literally the day after my relative died I was being told what jobs to look for and how to look for jobs (again extremely insulting). They were permitted to direct the way the conversations would go but left me out and treated me as if I were invisible when I needed a lot of sympathy and attention during this time. I had the very unpleasant and nagging feeling that they wanted to see me die right along with the beloved relative rather than nurture and cherish my existence.

Then I received further mixed directives and mixed message. Because of difficult financial times I was told that I should join the military or peace corps (a voluntary service). I argued that the military would be to dangerous: this was met with the hostile retort: "A car could easily drive through your house in your neighborhood, explode, and kill you in the process, too". A month later I was then told by a relative that the military wouldn't want me and that I would get "blown away", that I was "too skinny", and that if I couldn't handle teasing in college then I wouldn't handle traumatic harassing in the military. Again more shock considering these mixed demands and orders are flying out of nowhere and are unsolicited.

These relatives have always remembered my birthday and Christmas by sending cards with money gifts (which I see may be more token or pretense displays of care); however, their interpersonal demeanor are often distant, self-absorbed, sarcastic, petty, critical, and overbearing. The contrast is dizzying. They always want to be the center of attention, cherish and take pride in their self-absorption like swine, and it takes force just to get a word into what should be a normal conversation or a time of equal sympathy for everyone.

I just wanted to share this and see what other people have to say about this awful situation. The passive-aggressive group harassment that they seem to do best as a team is also absolutely perplexing to me.

Last edited by furrypro; 06-08-2012 at 10:18 AM..
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:22 AM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,981 posts, read 15,928,603 times
Reputation: 7531
Furry, I really have no advice - but if you wish to discuss your bereavement and recovery further with some understanding souls, please post in the Grief forum - we'd love to see you there, too.

The only comment I have is this: you see people at their very worst at times of death and divorce. Perhaps this isn't "who" your relatives are, but more the tension of the situation? Not knowing what to say, they turned the subject to their favorite topic - themselves.

They do sound somewhat toxic, but sometimes the best reply is "thank you for your concern/input" and letting it roll off. I know that is easier said than done, but many times it is the only way to survive.

I am very sorry for your loss. Warm thoughts to you.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:34 AM
 
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 10,398,234 times
Reputation: 8956
Maybe they have made you the scapegoat . . . that is an actual group dynamic - look it up. It is very painful. I empathize with you . . . I have experienced similar dynamics and it is no fun.

Do you have an ally you can take with you to family gatherings? I think you need one.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:47 AM
 
Location: California
313 posts, read 491,333 times
Reputation: 251
Well the scapegoating group dynamic will backfire on them because I don't have a history of failure and mistakes (e.g., prison time, rehab, drunk driving, divorce, obesity, high school drop out, etc.) And any emotional problems will stay with them once they leave and go back to their towns.

Quote:
Originally Posted by imcurious View Post
Maybe they have made you the scapegoat . . . that is an actual group dynamic - look it up. It is very painful. I empathize with you . . . I have experienced similar dynamics and it is no fun.

Do you have an ally you can take with you to family gatherings? I think you need one.
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Old 06-08-2012, 11:16 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
12,257 posts, read 7,370,639 times
Reputation: 7072
I'm really sorry you have to go through all this---the loss of someone you helped care for and loved and the callus way you're being treated by other members of the family. Some members of your family sound very dysfunctional. There is an old saying that goes like this: "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." That means you're never going to get the support you deserve and seek from these dysfunctional people so you need to learn not to let their words cut you and demoralize you so much. Get your support from the people who can give it and ignore those who are too wrapped up in their selves to care about others. I know it's not fair but the quicker you accept that some people aren't and never will be capable of building others up instead of tearing them down, the quicker you can learn not to let them hurt you with their insensitivity.

And above all, if you don't want to go in the military, don't do it. The military is not a place for anyone who isn't 100% committed to that life-style. Have you considered a job working for a home health care service? Their training doesn't take long and the jobs are plentiful in that field. The Peace Corp would be an adventure, though. I once considered that. Also remember whatever job you find right now doesn't have to be a life-time commitment. A job---any job---sounds like a good way to put space between you and some of the people who are giving you so much pain right now and it would buy you time to decide what you really want to do with your life.

Best of luck you and again, I'm so sorry for you loss.
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:21 PM
 
Location: earth?
7,288 posts, read 10,398,234 times
Reputation: 8956
Quote:
Originally Posted by furrypro View Post
Well the scapegoating group dynamic will backfire on them because I don't have a history of failure and mistakes (e.g., prison time, rehab, drunk driving, divorce, obesity, high school drop out, etc.) And any emotional problems will stay with them once they leave and go back to their towns.
I don't think you understand the syndrome. Good luck.
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Old 06-08-2012, 01:32 PM
 
Location: California
313 posts, read 491,333 times
Reputation: 251
Could you tell me more about the syndrome then. That way I can understand their delusion better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by imcurious View Post
I don't think you understand the syndrome. Good luck.
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Old 06-08-2012, 04:56 PM
 
12,465 posts, read 14,617,042 times
Reputation: 14236
furrypro...I'm sorry that you've had to deal with such very thoughtless, selfish relatives... at the same time as you grieve for one you loved....I don't think I could be as tolerant as you seem to be...I'm thinking you must be quite young...do you have a place of your own?..cause if you do, it sounds to me that you're better off keeping distance between yourself and them...sorry, but they don't sound like the kind of folk anyone would want to deal with too often.....if it were me I'd cut them from my life...far as I'm concerned...when someone dies...that is NOT an excuse for the veeeery poor behavior they've shown you....they otta be thanking you.
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Old 06-08-2012, 06:23 PM
 
Location: SWFL
21,550 posts, read 18,213,131 times
Reputation: 18904
Where did Wayland's post go? I know I read it.

Furry, I extend my condolences to you and wish you the very best of luck with your family.

I have no advice other than I'd stay as far away as possible from them. I'm actually shell shocked at reading your story!
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Old 06-08-2012, 06:47 PM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
34,760 posts, read 42,901,587 times
Reputation: 57498
Through pain comes growth. I don't know how come you were elected to take on the burden of this relative, but once you did, you made yourself a target to those who felt guilty about not stepping up.
The gift you have been given from this experience, is that you know who is in your corner, and who is not. Let the toxic people go.
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