I've only read about halfway through this thread so far but a lot of these stories are sounding similar to several of mine.
One of the worst examples of PA behavior I have seen came from my mother in December 2012. It was going to be the first Christmas that I wasn't going to travel the three hours home to my parents' house because I was pregnant, full-term, due two days before Christmas. My mother had come down to visit me in November, and since she was planning to come when the baby was born, I did not expect her to make another visit.
Then, the first week of December she told me that she wanted to come down and visit again one more time before the baby was born, and the following ridiculousness ensued:
- She told me on a Sunday that she wanted to visit the following weekend. I told her I was already committed to a family holiday gathering on Sunday night (which DH's aunt had been planning for a month and was very excited about) and if she was there at that time then she was more than welcome to attend with us (DH's family is always cool with this) but I wasn't going to be able to cancel those plans.
- She called me the next day to say that she wouldn't be coming because I didn't sound excited enough when she first brought it up. So I told her that was fine.
- She called me the day after that to say that fine, she was going to come visit after all, but she would come Friday night and leave Saturday so there was no interference with my original plans. I told her okay.
- DH confirmed with her on Wednesday that she would be coming on Friday and she confirmed. She then called me on Thursday and said that she had decided to come on Sunday instead. I reiterated that I already had plans on Sunday night. I also repeated the fact that she could come with us. She said she would have to think about it and maybe she wouldn't come after all. I told her that was fine.
- She called back later and said that fine, she would come on Friday, but it was really inconvenient and it would really be more convenient for her to come on Sunday. Fairly sure she was waiting for me to tell her to come on Sunday. I told her that was great and I would see her on Friday.
- She came on Friday and spent much of her time asking questions about the holiday gathering I was going to on Sunday. When she learned that it was just a casual celebration instead of a traditional observation of the holiday, she made multiple comments about not understanding why it was so important that I attend, and how inconvenient it was for her to have changed her schedule.
I think that we have actually probably had a lot of similar interactions, only in the past I would have felt guilty and given into her. However, the fact that I was super pregnant made me give myself permission to be "selfish" (in reality just keeping my spine, but I had been conditioned, mainly by her, to be more of a doormat). Since the world didn't end that time, I've gotten a lot better at standing up to her and not allowing her P/A statements to make me feel guilty and give in to something I don't want.
I hit the "wall" with the chief PA relative in my life over similar behavior regarding my daughter's birthday party. She had a health crisis (the latest of many) three days before my daughter's second birthday. She called me to tell me she wouldn't be able to make it to the party because she was being checked into the hospital. I said OK. She called again the next morning to tell me she'd checked out of the hospital (the crisis wasn't really a crisis) and would be able to come to the party after all. I said OK. She called again that afternoon to say she was worried about spreading germs to the kids, so maybe she wouldn't come the party. I said OK. She called again that night to say she would just wear a surgical mask to the party. I said OK. She called the morning before the party and said she was not worried about picking up germs FROM the kids and maybe she shouldn't come to the party after all. I said OK.
The thing was, I refused to give her what she wanted, which was to beg her to "play through the pain" and try to come to the party. Part of it was that I didn't particularly want her to be there. Part of it was that after years of her illnesses taking over our family events, I didn't want to play that game with her any more. Once again, she'd managed to make an event that wasn't about her to be ALL ABOUT HER and whether she would attend the party. And this party was about my daughter.
I finally just stopped taking her calls.
She didn't come to the party.