Relatively Bratty

by admin on September 5, 2011

My mother’s sister, Gayle, is the oldest of three kids and has a streak for wanting everything her way. If she doesn’t, she’ll go into tantrums that rivals most toddlers. Needless to say, this has put the brakes on numerous Thanksgiving dinners, family vacations, birthday parties, and other family events over the years. I am the target in this story however.

In July of this year, my mom organized a girls getaway which all the girls on her dad’s side of the family would send the weekend together since we haven’t had a family reunion in years, we were all in different stages of life (college, new professional, new mom, retired, etc), and it would be great to reconnect without having to accommodate the guys. My mom emphasized very heavily that only the girls were allowed to attend this weekend but there was some leniency granted to two of my cousins because they were still nursing.

My mother picked a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom fully furnished rental house (my “bed” was one of the sofas in the living room) in a large city two hours away for the 13 people that would attend the weekend event because she wanted a casual family atmosphere as opposed to everyone going off to do whatever. (And I will say it was very nice. All the rooms were decorated, the pantry was stocked with things you might overlook while packing for a long vacation, the living room had a 72″ flat screen TV with an Xbox and a large DVD collection.)

The first night (Friday night) was uneventful. After several hours of driving, everyone just wanted to find their bed and sleep.

Saturday was spent shopping. I spent most of the day with my cousins Tara, Gayle’s oldest daughter, and Tamara, my uncle’s daughter. Saturday night we had a pool party complete with food, tropical drinks, and desserts. We stay up late (about 2 in the morning) eating and drinking around the pool deck.

The only plan for Sunday was to lounge around and talk… at least that was plan. Sunday morning 6am, I awake up to what can only be described (by me) as a fire alarm. It’s Gayle. “Wake up! Wake up! Time for church!” Now I was raised to never miss church (yet I find that Sunday mornings are the best day to sleep in) but this threw me off. Growing up, church and vacation never went together. If you went or are on vacation, it was understandable that you won’t make it to church that week. Plus we were in a city that none of lived in so what’s this church she speaks out?

In my groggy state, I hear tell me to put in her DVD. She hands me a DVD and again tells me to put in her DVD. I look at DVD and information on the disc states that it was video recording of a message that was taped in 2007. As I’m trying to get out of my groggy, rudely awaken, “wtf is going on” state, Aunt Gayle throws a book at me and demands to know why I’m not listening to her. That woke me up. I stare at her, reply “I’m ignoring you” (not that I was before but after the book throw, I did not feel any obligation to help her), hand the DVD over to my cousin Monica (who proceeds to fumble with the TV and DVD player in the living room to put the stupid DVD in), and get my stuff to get dress because there is no way I can go to sleep after that.

As I’m getting dressed, I get confronted by both by mother and my cousin Tamara to apologize for hurting her feelings. That I should have answered her and did what she asked. When I told them about the book throw, they insisted that even though she was wrong, I should apologize because she is really upset. I didn’t. I’m sorry. I can deal with children throwing things to get someone’s attention but a woman in her mid-50s throwing things because someone isn’t moving quick enough is inexcusable. And to then rant to both your sister and your niece about the incident like you were completely innocent is even more sickening. (No one watched the DVD by the ways. She tried watching. Anyways…

My brother lives a couple minutes away from the rental house so he drops by Sunday night to hang out “with the laaaadieees” for awhile. Most of the family hasn’t seen him in years so they are thrilled that he would drop by for a moment. He ends up staying for a few hours. Long enough to update everyone on his whereabouts, career plans, watch a movie, play several card and board games, and have dinner with us. He leaves around midnight.

Monday morning, all the girls have breakfast, everyone packs up, and everyone leaves by noon. My mom and I decided to stay in town for an extra day. Shopping of course.

As we’re shopping, mom gets a call from Aunt Gayle… and she is livid.

#1: She was upset that nothing was planned for the weekend. There should have been an actual agenda. She was bored the whole weekend. The plan was to interact with each other, not be entertained by an outside source. And not surprised with the boredom. She’s the type of house guest that expects to be entertained the whole time even if she’s been there hundreds of times. Grandma hates it when she decides to “just drop by” because she expects grandma to drop everything she has planned for that day to entertain her.

#2: She’s angry that my brother dropped by and then would not leave. “It was a girl’s weekend so he had no right to come over.” (Okay, she’s right. Girls’ weekend. He should have stayed home.)

#3: She hated the pool party. She doesn’t swim, she hated the food options, she hated the decoration, and she thought alcoholic drinks were inappropriate for the event (We asked what she wanted for the party, she said it didn’t matter so we got food that was typical for a party. When I brought up the idea of decorating for the pool party, she immediately said that she hates Hawaiian themed parties which made decorating pretty difficult. Eventually I gave up and did a Caribbean theme which looked a little Hawaiian but everyone else loved it. I still think it’s weird that she would hate the Hawaiian theme yet she went to Hawaii for her honeymoon and has gone to several Caribbean cruises over the years. And all of the drinks at the party were non-alcoholic. We didn’t want the new moms to feel out of place. She was the only one that didn’t get in the water because she was too fat for a swimsuit. She wasn’t only that didn’t swim but no big deal.)

#4: She’s livid because not only did I ignore her but that I was telling lies about her. She did not throw anything at me and she is appalled that I would make up such a lie. Her side of the story is that she asked me politely to put the DVD in, I rolled my eyes, said “I’m ignoring you”, and handed the DVD to someone else. (I could have made an eye rolling movement while trying to wake up but I don’t know what I look like when I’m in that state so who knows.)

She then demanded that I apologize to her both for ignoring her and for lying about her. “I’m an adult and she is a child.” She then tells my mom that she has supported all these years but not anymore. She is done with me.

I told my mom that I refuse to apologize for something I did not do. She’s the one that’s acting like a baby, she’s the one that started ranting about me to other people instead of talking to me directly (which weakens her defense in my opinion), and she called me a child which set me off. I’m 26 years old, I took time off work, I paid my share to participate in this weekend event, I drove there, and I paid for my share while I was there (food, drinks, snacks, etc). Maybe to her I’m a child but money talks and I am not a child.

I then raised the question of what support did she give me. She never attended any of my graduations (high school or college). She never gave me anything, not even words of encouragement, when I was in college. When I got fired from my job last year and was struggling to pay bills while job searching, I had several people help me out. She wasn’t one of them. She had her “own problems to deal with”. She then went on a cruise with her boyfriend. Pretty bad timing in my book.

I have no real interaction with my dad’s family so I spend a lot of time with my mom’s family. Why would I start anything with the side of the family I actually like? And she writes me off over a DVD. She didn’t leave her husband until he cheated for the 4th time which resulted in a child. Her son did 5 years in prison total for several things and she still contends that he’s a good person. Her best friend stole a large sum of money from her bank account and ruined her credit with a slew of credit card purchases but she still talks to her. I’ve brushed off years of nasty comments her daughters have said regarding me. But I hesitate to put in a video and she’s done. Really? Seriously.

It’s been over a month since the girls’ weekend and Aunt Gayle has yet to talk to my mom since the rant phone call but has ranted to grandma twice since then. My mom says that that is pretty typical. Mom has been on the receiving end of many of her sister’s rants. “The littlest thing will set her off.” Usually something will happen that she takes as a slight to her, she’s go into a tantrum and rant to whoever will listen to boost her ego, then she’ll call a couple months later when everyone else has moved on to demand an apology through force. “The whole process is very draining. She expects everything to go according to the plan that’s in her head and when people don’t obey, she gets very upset even if the slight was unintentional. She always believes she’s right for whatever justifiable reason in her head. And she will demand apology for the wrong but that will resolve nothing. She will expect you to apologize over and over and over and over for went wrong. But if she does something wrong, oh well. Life goes on.”

I’m looking forward to Aunt Gayle calling me. 0831-11

The few comments I’m going to make at this time pertain to the OP’s expectation that she is entitled to other people’s money when she was financially struggling.   Aunt Gayle owes the OP nothing in terms of money.  What Aunt Gayle does with her money is none of the OP’s business.  One cannot demand respect as an adult by claiming that contributing one’s own monetary share of the weekend getaway qualifies as adult behavior but then somehow have an expectation that an adult should expect financial help in times of difficulty.

There is a whole lot of history to this relationship that predates the weekend getaway incident.

{ 75 comments… read them below or add one }

Twik September 5, 2011 at 9:50 pm

I’m a little confused about the start of the incident – “church” was whatever was recorded on the DVD? She was waking people up to watch a recorded service?

In any event, throwing things is not acceptable, and whether or not the OP rolled her eyes, or secretly hoped that Aunt would send her some money when she was financially strapped, is nothing compared to that.

Hopefully, the OP has learned a little trick in handling difficult people – s/he who gets really angry first usually wins. Everyone else is afraid of them. If you don’t fear them, though, their power is gone. It’s not the OP’s responsibility to apologize for being assaulted, and if that means Aunt stays away, so be it. Better yet, by holding her ground, she may get a family reputation of being someone you don’t trifle with.

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Sunshine September 5, 2011 at 10:45 pm

My thoughts exactly, dirtyhippiegirl. This post quickly turned into a childish rant.

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wallaby September 5, 2011 at 10:57 pm

I’m with Admin. The OP states:

“When I got fired from my job last year and was struggling to pay bills while job searching, I had several people help me out. She wasn’t one of them. She had her “own problems to deal with”. She then went on a cruise with her boyfriend. Pretty bad timing in my book.”

To me that pretty clearly indicates that the OP is criticising her Aunt for going on a cruise rather than helping her out when she lost her job.

I would also say that the family’s tolerance of the Aunt’s behaviour might be related to her difficult personal history: cheating husband, subsequent divorce, son’s imprisonment, stealing ‘best friend’, ruined credit rating, etc. Would these events not be enough to make most people, well, slightly bitter and angry? It sounds like she’s not a terribly happy person, so setting yourself up for a confrontation with her is hardly likely to end in a ‘win-win’ outcome.

Also, OP states that, “Why would I start anything with the side of the family I actually like?”. Sorry OP, but you *did* start something when you said to her face “I’m ignoring you”. That was rude. Your mother is also clearly upset about you falling out with her sister and has asked you to apologise. I think you need to weigh up whether you would be better served by ‘doing right’ versus ‘being right’ in this situation. Be the bigger person, apologise for ignoring her and let it go. I fear that you confronting her will achieve nothing but create even more drama in your otherwise close family.

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ferretrick September 5, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Admin and others-count me in as another person who thinks OP only put in the part about the cruise as a counter argument to the aunt’s untrue claim that she has supported her. I don’t see anywhere she says she expected or was entitled to aunt’s money because she was in financial difficulty.

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Lexie September 5, 2011 at 11:30 pm

The aunt is a piece of work, and this OP hasn’t written this out well, but I think a few things are just phrased badly. The bit about ‘support’ – the aunt claimed to support her but the OP said she didn’t. I think the OP has used a bad example of this lack of support; to me, it sounds like “My aunt says she supports me, but she absolutely never has. I was having a really bad, terrible time lately and she wasn’t at all helpful.” I think it should have just been left with the ‘no graduation attendance’, because frankly, OP, that cruise would have been booked and paid for long before you approached her for help, and because the cruise was booked and paid for, money was probably tight. Don’t judge the financial situations of other people.

The bit about the pool party annoyed me. Definitely worded badly. ‘She chose not to swim because she didn’t feel comfortable in a swim suit’ is way less nasty and communicates the situation better. I have no tolerance for people who are asked their opinions and views regarding party food, dismiss it and then complain. As for the Caribbean theme, that might have been seen as passive-aggressive. Not your fault, she sounds like a pain in the butt, but if you ever have to plan a gathering like that again, Google party theme ideas or just pick a few colours out and base it on that.

I have an aunt with similar tendencies, and I totally understand the OP’s position – I wouldn’t apologize either, and I’d make it abundantly clear that she is changing the story to anyone who asks. If you are cornered for the sake of family peace, I’d offer an apology only after she had apologized for her rudeness and for assaulting you with a book.

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Toya September 6, 2011 at 1:35 am

Okay, I am the OP and I feel I have to clarify some things because people are getting everything so very wrong.

I never said that my aunt was fat. Those were her words. I saw nothing wrong with her weight since I could lose a few pounds (or more) myself.

I don’t know were my expectation of money came from. Maybe from the paragraph talking about losing my job. I’m not sure. At any rate, I just found it sad that I had all these other people were helping me out either financially or emotionally, and yet she showed indifference. And I think the cruise just really grated on my nerves because she went from “I have my own problems” (i.e. “I’m struggling myself.”) to lounging on a ship deck someone. I know that she can spend her money how ever she wants but it’s a little irritating to listen to someone talk about the marvelous vacation they went on when you’re having to budget for every penny just to stay afloat. Yes, it’s jealousy but have a little sensitivity.

I admit that I should have written this after everything was resolved but it’s a little frustrating when you have someone that should act like an adult in their 50s act like someone in elementary school. And for some reason, I wanted third party input from people who don’t know me or my family.

And I admit that airing her dirty laundry was not nice either. Again I was upset and rather hurt that she would write me off aftre one incident when she has kept people who have walked all over her for years. It’s just weird how some people will just take abuse over and over and over from some people but won’t take even a peep from others.

I’ve since calmed down about the whole incident and I can see the bratty side of me coming out just a hair. It’s pretty hard to avoid sinking to someone else’s level when it seems like they’re the one who’s “winning”. Now I’ve just accepted that this incident might be reason enough for Auntie to always keep me at a distance from now on. I’ve tried calling her to in some way clear the air but she refuses to talk to me so who knows when this incident will be rehashed (if it does at all).

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grumpy_otter September 6, 2011 at 5:15 am

Hang in there, OP–you’ll need to learn to deal with dear auntie probably unless your mom writes her off. Family. Sheesh.
I have just one question–WHAT WAS ON THAT DVD?

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Enna September 6, 2011 at 7:19 am

@ Ferretrick, ture Aunty could have showed some more emotional support however the OP did state in her orginal post:

“When I got fired from my job last year and was struggling to pay bills while job searching, I had several people help me out. She wasn’t one of them. She had her “own problems to deal with”. She then went on a cruise with her boyfriend. Pretty bad timing in my book.”

@ Toya thanks for clearing things. It looks like you understand the risks of posting things when you are upset, hurt and angry. Maybe your Aunty is sheilding her problems and sometimes if people bottle it up they get grumpy and over react then lash out at ours which is what she could be be doing. Maybe when the dust has settled things will get better with your aunty – I really hope it does!

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jessiebird September 6, 2011 at 7:58 am

OP, I completely understand you, including all the ranting. I was in a similar, but much worse (at stake) position (birth of first child, surgery) and the perpetrator was my mother. She got my entire family to side against me based on her lies.

It was excruciatingly painful. still is. Ranting is inevitable. Take it as a sign of being a human being with normal feelings. Feel them all. What I had to work on was the very fine and difficult balance of feeling every bad feeling without letting it consume me into a rage that would lead to retaliatory and ranting behavior. It does compromise your case.

Though in my experience, I find no one wants to hear about it or care. no one else can feel your pain so they just want you to forget about it and move on because the conflict makes THEM uncomfortable.Unfortunately, it just allows these personality-disturbed individuals to continue their manipulations and machinations. The posters who suggest ignore her are right, but ignore her DOES NOT mean the silent treatment. That is easier. It feels revengeful so it feels good. If what you’re doing feels revengeful, step back and try again. Ignore her means to not engage. You still talk to her, see her, but you just do not care.

It is so hard. I am still working really hard to achieve a balance in my situation that feels comfortable and safe for me. But I also feel that I have grown immensely as a person in the last three years, and I can’t say it would be the same if I had chosen to be vengeful. If you value growing and becoming a better person, use this as an opportunity to practice. :) It’s easy to deal with people we love and enjoy. It’s trying to maintain world peace when we’re dealing with true drama kings and queens that we’re really put to the test. I wish you all the best. To be honest, I think you sound pretty grounded and fair. Twenty-six is young, especially in the scheme of realizing family dynamics and dysfunction. First you’ll be mad. I imagine by your 30s you’ll start realizing that they family issues are bigger than your Aunt Gayle and taking a hard look at what you’ve learned growing up and how that has shaped you for better or worse. and 30s is young to start realizing. I was 27 when I started realizing and 35 when it all hit me in the face. Now I’m finally getting it and it’s improving my life.

It takes a lot to move from a life of reaction to one of reflective engagement. And being able to honestly say,”This is not about me.” When you can say that, you won’t feel the need to rant. So much. :)

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Wink-n-Smile September 6, 2011 at 10:04 am

I agree that an adult should not expect aunts to contribute to them financially. Still, I see the OP’s point – the Aunt had NOT supported her, either financially or emotionally, yet claimed to have supported her and is now “withdrawing that support.” What support?

Her examples of how the aunt put up with all sorts of behavior from her husband and son does contrast to the disowning of a neice over a DVD. Thus, I understand why she put those comments in there.

However, the crack about “being too fat to fit into a swimsuit” was uncalled for. First of all, there is no such thing as “too fat to fit into a swimsuit,” because they make them in plus sizes. Secondly, no matter how egregious your aunt’s behavior, OP, her weight is not your concern, and it’s rude to make cracks about it. I realize that was in retaliation, but that doesn’t make it right.

As for the insistence on watching a DVD at 6 am, I’d just like to know what church has its Sunday morning services at 6 o’clock in the morning? Does your Aunt actually get up at 5 on a Sunday to get to her church building at 6? Is she a nun, who gets up in the middle of the night for prayers, goes back to bed, then gets up again 3 hours later, for more prayers? If not, then the proper response would be “Worship services are scheduled to start at 9. I’ll wake up in time for that. This, however, is too early, so please leave my bedroom.” It’s your bedroom for as long as you’re in bed.

If you know she’s going to call in a month, then I recommend you write yourself a script. Make the points you want to make, and don’t deviate from it. Say only what you had planned. Don’t let her rile you into saying something stupid. Yes, she needs to be told that what she did was wrong. However, you also need to control your own tongue, so you don’t make hurtful cracks, such as the one about her weight. Keep to the high road.

And if you’re worried about family gossip, by all means, record the phone call. Prepare in advance to defend yourself, and maybe you can keep this from blowing up too much.

Or, you could apologize, in an attempt to keep the peace. The problem with that is that the peace never stays for long.

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Clair Seulement September 6, 2011 at 10:13 am

I was going to agree with Ferretrick and others that the mention of the financial support seemed in counterargument to the aunt’s own claim, however the OP’s clarification actually lends more support to the admin’s point of view. It sounds like the family is nitpicking everything each other does. I hope my future nieces and nephews don’t expect me not to take vacations because they struggle with college tuition, like most of the American population (including myself) has and does.

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Wink-n-Smile September 6, 2011 at 10:47 am

Thanks for the clarification, OP. So, it wasn’t a crack about her weight, but your aunt complaining about her own weight. She sounds very insecure. Most drama llamas are insecure, which is why they constantly need to feed off others.

Clair – OP didn’t expect her NOT to take that vacation. She just like to hear the aunt complain about being in poor straits, then take a vacation, and then claim to support the OP, when she hadn’t.

If the OP had been starving, and the aunt had said, “I can’t feed you. I have no food, myself, ” and then gone out for a steak dinner, then later claimed to have fed the OP, then the OP would be justified in being riled about it.

However, it sounds like you’re not going to win with Auntie, so as long as she’s not talking to you, you might as well enjoy it. As long as she’s not talking to you, she’s not hurting you.

If your mother again asks you to apologize to your aunt, write out an apology letter. Show it to your mother before posting it.

Dear Aunti Gayle – I’m sorry you threw a book at me. I’m sorry you woke me up at 6:00 in the morning and yelled at me for not moving fast enough to put in your DVD church service, at that ridiculous hour, even though most church services start at 9. I’m sorry I couldn’t sleep through your antics. I’m sorry you are so insecure that you wouldn’t join us in swimming, then complained about the swimming party. I’m sorry you didn’t decorate the party yourself, rather than do nothing but complain about my hard work decorating. I’m sorry you can’t tell the difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. I’m sorry you can’t forgive me for saying that I was ignoring you, even though you forgave your husband for cheating on you four times, your son for being a criminal, and your friend for stealing from you and other egregious behavior. I’m sorry you think being too sleepy to pay you full attention is so much worse than those other examples. I’m sorry you are so completely screwed up that you believe that not showing me any emotional or financial support in my hour of need is actually “supporting me,” and I’m wondering what exactly you mean by “and now you’re done.” I’m sorry you think I’m a child, at 26, and you are an adult, even though you throw tantrums like a toddler. I’m sorry you lied about me. I’m sorry that everyone in this family has let you get away with your egregious behavior for all these years, because “that’s just Gayle,” while they expect me to be perfect. I’m sorry for the lack of love in this family. Please forgive me for not being everything you’re not, either. In other words, for being human.

Show this apology letter to your mother, and ask her if she still insists you apologize to your aunt. And while you’re at it, you might want to ask your mother for an apology. She contributed to the problem by allowing Aunt Gayle to get away with it for all these years, and for not protecting her children from this behavior. And she beleived Gayle over you, knowing how Gayle is. And she took the side of a temperamental toddler-woman who physically assaulted her daughter. And she insisted her daughter apologize to the toddler-woman for not giving in to the toddler-woman’s ridiculous demands.

Then give the letter to your mother, and say, “If you want me to apologize to Gayle, this is it. You can mail the letter, or you can drop it. It’s up to you. But never again will you ask me to apologize to her, nor blame me for her behavior.”

Once you do that, drop it. Never mention the incident, or the apology, again. If Gayle speaks to you, then be polite and answer her, but don’t seek her out.

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kelly September 6, 2011 at 11:28 am

The OP never said she expected money, she said the aunt claimed to support her, but never had not even when she really needed financial support. It was the aunt who was being greedy, she wanted praise without actually giving the support. Some people seeminly including the OPs aunt, think they cna behave however they want and then just deny it, if they throw a book and someone tells then they honestly believe they did not throw the book,do not see anythign wrong wiht lying about it throw books, the same for the support, of course they supported you because they are a good person. I would just let her fester.

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Maryann September 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm

“The few comments I’m going to make at this time pertain to the OP’s expectation that she is entitled to other people’s money when she was financially struggling.”

Wait… what?

The OP said:
“She then tells my mom that she has supported [me] all these years, but not anymore.”

Then she said:
“I then raised the question of what support did she give me. She never attended any of my graduations (high school or college). She never gave me anything, not even words of encouragement, when I was in college.”

Admin, I don’t see how that’s not perfectly legitimate. The letter was something of a rant but, none the less, the aunt indicated she’d somehow “supported” her niece and the niece is merely rebutting that. Somewhat bitterly, but she’s hardly demanding cash. Maybe years of blogging about certifiable gimme pigs can change a person’s point of view, but I agree with those who said you missed the mark with your comment.

The OP may not be a perfect person (as there isn’t such a thing) but her aunt sounds truly insufferable.

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Gloria Shiner September 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Hmmm.. I thought the comment about the aunt not giving her money was in response to the aunt’s statement of how supportive she was of the OP. And that the reference to the husband cheating was in reference to the aunt cutting her out of her life for one small “infraction”. Maybe none of that needed to be brought up, but they were counter examples.

I’d say no longer having that person in your life is no big loss. I have a sister-in-law I feel the same way about.

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Miss Raven September 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Urgle. I’m not going to comment on the rant, the airing of dirty laundry, or the support issue because I think all that has at this point been beaten to death. The point I would like to make is to you, OP, about the family dynamics at play that have allowed your Aunt to become who she is.

My brother is your aunt. He is a few years my junior, although we are now both adults. My entire life, I was the responsible one who did my schoolwork, obeyed my parents, had trouble telling even the smallest lie, and tried to stay out of trouble. My brother was the opposite of that. He was impossible to discipline even when he was very clearly making trouble. When my brother and I would fight (because he thought it was funny to provoke me), my parents would reprimand me for not ignoring him. While this argument may have been valid when I was 12 and he was 8, I feel that at this point he owns a car, can legally drink, works for his money and feeds himself, and I should no longer be responsible for his being an arse. At this point, rather than me ignoring him, I believe it should be his responsibility to quite frankly, just not be an arse. Can an adult not handle something so basic?

He cannot, and neither can your aunt. And your mother, like mine, gave up a long time ago out of sheer exhaustion. I was stunned when a few of my friends mentioned my parents obvious favoritism towards my brother, since I always felt they tried to be fair. In deeper analysis, it’s not favoritism. They expect more of me because they have always been able to count on me, and don’t bother with my brother, with trying to rely on him or even better him. They just gave up.

Unfortunately, as in your situation, this made things easier on the short-term on my mother and yours, but created a couple of monsters who believe that they can do anything they want and that they will always get their way. They believe it, because it is true. And as they’ve grown to adulthood, this behavior has gotten unbearable, and worse than that, it has been cemented. At this point, it will be very, very hard indeed to change them.

I’m not sure whether or not I’ve given up on my brother. Are you ready to let your aunt go? There are two options for you: Recognize that this is what has happened, that you bear no fault and that she will always be this way. Or, you can make your point and try your best to get her to change. Is she too far gone? You’ll have to make that decision for yourself. I think you are well within your rights if you decide that you don’t want to deal with her crap anymore.

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Paige September 6, 2011 at 3:46 pm

I feel your pain. I myself have a few self-centered Aunts that expect much more than they give. I would be looking forward to that phone call too :)

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TKarsjens September 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm

There are people in this world who act so over the top, so full of drama and over-reaction, that they intimidate other people into submitting to them. These people get special treatment not because they are well liked, but because people are afraid of them.

There is a word for these people – bullies. It’s not the “give me your lunch money” kind of bully, but it is the adult form of this behavior. They have learned that screaming louder, causing more trouble and being a general pain gets them what they want.

And most of us are intimidated by them – we go along with it to not make waves.

There comes a time in our lives when we have to decide – is putting up with this behavior worth the benefits I get from this person? Sometimes it is – there are people like this who 99% of the time are super fun. Or maybe there is the benefit of keeping the rest of the family happy – whatever the issue, you have to look at the situation and do a cost/benefit analysis. What is the cost of dealing with this person and what is the benefit?

If the cost of dealing with them outweighs the benefit, you simply be polite but withdraw. No need for confrontation – just smile and back away. If the cost is less than the benefit, then you need to accept that this is who they are and not try to change them or complain.

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--E September 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I agree with Admin–the OP undermines her position at the moment she condemns her aunt for going on a cruise while the OP is unemployed. That’s none of the OP’s business. It doesn’t matter if her aunt is the foulest, rudest, most awful person alive–the aunt can spend her money however she chooses.

The subsequent paragraph, where the OP is incensed that the aunt is cutting her out when meanwhile she has tolerated bad behavior from other people, makes it sound as if the OP craves her aunt’s approval and resents that the aunt bestows her approval on people the OP considers less worthy than herself.

There’s clearly a messed-up family dynamic here, in many ways and many levels. Sounds to me as if not speaking to her aunt can only improve OP’s situation.

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Gilraen September 10, 2011 at 5:57 am

Usually in cases like this there is a whole history to a relationship that is hidden.
I recognise some of the feelings and bewilderment. I cut all contact with my aunt (and as a consequence my cousins) due to her simply always harassing me. I am no saint I see where I should have and could have behaved differently. But there are some things that I cannot help ( being the eldest grandchild) or would not want to change to please her jealousy (a successful career);
I simply tried to get away from her at family occasions as much as I could for I love my mother and she also loves her sister.

Like the OP what happened between my aunt and me was actually not the biggest thing ever to occur, it was just the last straw. After a long history you simply have enough. Auntie Grace probably has a a totally different view of the situation and the relation. There are always tow sides to the story, but there are times when family just is too much. After all you do not choose your family, they are a given.
I understand not posting things when you are upset, but really there is probably much much more to the story. To the OP, let it go. It is upsetting, but support you mother in this. She is the one really caught in the middle and she is the one that needs your support.

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Linnie September 11, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I agree with everything, except I don’t think the OP should’ve added in the part about her aunt not helping her when she was in a financial crisis. No one is entitled to money, even when they’re struggling, and the OP said she was fired, but what for? She could’ve done something terrible that she deserved to be fired for.

Other than that, the OP’s aunt sounds exactly like my sister, so I can sympathize, for sure. She’s also the oldest… and at 24 still lives at home, doesn’t have a job and obviously doesn’t pay bills, and will still go into huge screaming and swearing tantrums if she doesn’t get what she wants.

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Tonja September 12, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I was able to grasp what the OP was saying, how the aunt was the one who called herself too fat, etc. I did not take it that OP expected handouts, rather pointed out ways her aunts claim of supporting her was incorrect. Personally, I have been in this spot, and I agree with the OPs behavior. People like that think age and entitlement go hand and hand- it doesn’t. I’d tell auntie if she wanted to call me a child, not to expect an equal, adult contribution to future events.
Btw- LOVE Winks letter idea!!

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Javin September 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Count me in among those that don’t think the OP was claiming any sort of “entitlement.” The aunt claimed she “supported her”. The OP points out that when she needed the support, the Aunt was taking cruises while poor-mouthing about how she couldn’t support her. That was the (I think very clear) point of the statement.

The same with the “fat” comment. Obviously, that was the aunt stating that her own reasoning for being the only member not swimming was due to her own insecurity. She then turned around saying how “horrible” and “boring” the pool party was. I thought this was exceedingly clear in the OP.

I think people need to quit looking for a reason to attack the OP. Maybe they feel a twinge of guilt because they’ve been “the aunt” themselves?

The original attack was having a book hurled at you when you’re sleeping. Everything past that is noise. I do not believe the OP should “be the bigger person” and apologize until the aunt has grown up (which I realize is unlikely) and apologized. It’s precisely *because* of this “turn the other cheek” mentality that people like her Aunt continue to be the way that they are.

My own mother was not entirely unlike the aunt in this story…

I’d actually tried to explain the above statement and ended up with a comment as long as the original post. :D I deleted it to save you the drama. Long story short, after putting my mother firmly in her place it took more than two years before we spoke again. But this is what it took for us to have a “normal” relationship. Some people simply need to be forced to be adult, or ignored until such time as they can act like one. In the aunt’s case, if she gets the apology she demands, she will be that much worse in the future. If she’s held firmly in check, each time she brings it up pointing out (politely) that “We both know that you threw a tantrum and hurled a book at me. Saying you didn’t doesn’t change the fact. When you’re ready to say you’re sorry, and talk to me like an adult, we can discuss this.” Then the aunt will either leave it alone completely (so you can at least be civil to each other), or maybe, just MAYBE she’ll finally break down and have an adult conversation.

Either way, being “cut off” by this woman sounds like a good thing.

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gmwilliams October 13, 2011 at 7:29 am

This article has validated my point exactly. I am sooo sick of people talking about us onlies in terms of being prima donnas who throw temper tantrums if we do not get our way. Well, I have news for you which is validated by this lovely article. The people I know who are pushy, bossy, obnoxious, and throw massive temper tantrums are OLDEST children. I can name quite a few of them. I remember when I was working and one of my coworkers, an oldest child of 8, habitually wanted people to wait on her hand and foot and if they chose not to, she would go into a tirade and call them all sorts of names. Another oldest child of 6, wanted people to worship her. She frequently stated that she had extremely high self regard and thought only of herself and no one else. She also had an entitlement mentality and believed that because she had Masters and Law Degrees, she was better than anyone else. She voiced this constantly. She further believed that she was better educated than the job she held. She eventually got fired from the job and NEVER worked again.

Conversely, I knew only children who were quite generous, contrite, and humble. They were extremely pleasant people to interface with. Furthermore, they would give their right arm to help you if you needed it. They were also some of the most calm and laid back people around. Please do not give me the jive that people with siblings are not bratty and entitled! Please, get over yourselves. I am glad that this article was published. Now people can see that people with siblings can be also be selfish, bratty, and obnoxious.

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justme June 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Gayle sounds like a self-centered person who will create problems just so she can be the center of attention. Unfortunately, it sounds like your family is used to just giving in to whatever she wants so she’ll calm down. This is called enabling. Much in the same way that a child who is rewarded every time she throws a tantrum will learn that it is an effective way to to get what she wants, your aunt has learned to keep people so afraid of crossing her that she will never have to accommodate another person, ever. And her argument that you were in the wrong because she is older loses all strength when you consider that she doesn’t show much respect to family members who are older than she is (including her own mother).
I have a few people like this in my family, and all I can say is that unfortunately, no matter what you do, and how hard you try to please them, they will go out of their way to find something wrong with what you’ve done, so they can demand a grovelling apology. It never stops.

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