Author Topic: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)  (Read 3402 times)

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CrochetFanatic

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I'm not sure if I've had a 'shiny spine moment', or if I've been rude in response to rudeness, or if I should have just unplugged from the conversation.  :-\

B/G: I've written about my uncle many times, and due to previous interactions with him, his wife, and my grandmother, I've pulled back significantly in the relationship.  I've basically just had it with the manipulation, with the tantrums, and with keeping my mouth shut to avoid stirring up trouble.  Even before our first big blow-up, I began to hate going over there because someone (usually my uncle) would begin to loudly rant about something, and I would be stuck without an "out" because we only took one car.  I got tired of feeling miserable, trapped, and angry.  So, I haven't gone over unless the family got together for holidays.  End B/G.

My uncle is having a fall party this Saturday, and we're invited.  My dad isn't going, my brother isn't sure if he's going or not, my mom is probably going, and I was really on the fence and hoping I could avoid a confrontation.  I asked my uncle an unrelated question in a private message, and instead of answering the question he asked if I was coming to the party.

I said I wasn't really sure yet, hoping that I would be able to come to a decision on my own, rather than being bullied into it, and he asked, "Why is that?"

Me: I haven't decided.  I'm working on something that takes up a lot of time, and there's a bit of a deadline. (Their Christmas present, not that I'm too enthusiastic about completing it now!)

Him: ok CrochetFanatic..it's not like we ever see you anyway. By the way, your only living grandmother is getting older and every once in a while she wished that she could she her oldest grandchild.

(Long pause from me as I bit down on my temper)

Me: I feel like I can't say anything to you without having you do what you're doing right now. (Probably the wrong thing to say, but I always seem to realize it too late)

Him: I don't know what your are talking about...what I do know is that you never visit my mom and it hurts her very much. You have two little cousins who adore you as well, but hey so what!

Me: THAT. That right there. Guilt trips, little jabs.

And it just kind of went from there, and it lasted for over an hour.  Do you want to know what's really ironic?  I made a lot more progress with him in dealing with him that way, rather than trying to keep my head down and try to stay neutral.  We really had it out, and eventually settled down and got to a point where we apologized for our harsh words and said "I love you" before signing off.  I don't know...It was just a really surreal argument.  I internalize everything, and he explodes.  For once, I exploded back, and I didn't let him talk to me like I was a naughty child who needed correcting.

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.  :-\ I still don't want the sort of closeness he seems to want, that he seems to think we had before, and things haven't changed.  I know I probably could have handled it better, and I feel both proud of standing up for myself (for once...) and guilty for pushing back.  I'm pretty sure we were both rude, but any thoughts on how to deal with comments like that might be helpful in the future.  It was one of those rare times when I became so angry that everything I learned here at Ehell went right out the window...

MyFamily

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2013, 03:41:42 PM »
No, it wasn't the wrong thing to say.  You weren't rude, but you did appropriately call him out on his actions.  You weren't mean, you didn't call him a poopy-head, you didn't yell and scream at him (I'm assuming these things since we only got a few lines of the conversation).  My vote is for a shiny spine moment.


"The test of good manners is to be patient with bad ones" - Solomon ibn Gabirol

MrTango

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2013, 03:45:38 PM »
I don't think you were rude, but I do think that it would be a better tactic to just end the conversation (by not replying at all) as soon as he starts in with the guilt trips.

Then again, I'd also be very tempted to respond: "I've decided that I will not be attending your party.  I don't feel like dealing with any more of your rants, guilt trips, or manipulative behavior."  (Although, that would probably be a bit over the line into rudeness.)

EllenS

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2013, 03:48:22 PM »
I think this is the line between social etiquette and close relationships.  If someone wants to be close with you, part of that is accepting responsibility for the emotional content of the relationship.  It was a little bit of "You want the truth?  You can't HANDLE the truth!"

I don't think you said anything inappropriate in the conversation you reported here.  And while he may have been laying guilt on you, I don't think he was completely rude, either.  If he had left off the immature PA jabs about "It's not like we ever see you anyway" and "hey so what", the actual content of what he said was very honest and real.  So you were real back.

The crucial thing that was missing from your uncle's questions was, "did I do something to offend you, and how can I make it better?" aka humility.  but overall i vote for shiny spine, and maybe your relationship will be better now that you can talk about things with him like 2 grownups.

SamiHami

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2013, 03:51:44 PM »
Well, you seem to feel that the outcome was a good one, so that tells me that you handled him in a way that works to some extent. I think it might have been better from a boundary perspective to have responded a little differently as soon as he demanded to know "why is that?"

I said I wasn't really sure yet, hoping that I would be able to come to a decision on my own, rather than being bullied into it, and he asked, "Why is that?"

Me: As I said, I am not sure yet. I'll let you know as soon as I can.

Him: ok CrochetFanatic..it's not like we ever see you anyway. By the way, your only living grandmother is getting older and every once in a while she wished that she could she her oldest grandchild.

Me: Actually, no. I will not be at the party. Goodbye.



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Hmmmmm

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2013, 04:15:19 PM »
Well, first, why are you waiting a few days before a party to give your RSVP? And when prompted for the RSVP you tell him "hmm, don't know". That smacks of "waiting for something better to come along."

But standing up for yourself on his comments about your visiting your GM is fine. It's not his business. Of course you know that the correct response should have been "My relationship with my GM is not your concern. I'll let you know about Saturday." or "Uncle I don't attend functions at your house frequently because when I do you spend a great amount of time nagging me or trying to repremand me. I'm not your child. If you'd learn to treat me as an adult, I'd enjoy your company more."

I've never really understood your relationship with this uncle. It seems that maybe he is closer in age to you then your father is to him? Does he view you as a "little sister"? Because that exchange definately sounds like a sibling conversation more than a uncle/neice relationship.

Lynn2000

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2013, 04:22:17 PM »
You know, I think it's hard to say. I think you're on to something with your line, "I internalize everything, and he explodes.  For once, I exploded back, and I didn't let him talk to me like I was a naughty child who needed correcting." I don't think "explode" is what I would advise people to do, but it sounds like you called him out on his PA, manipulative behavior in a way that he understood. I'm sure every line in the whole argument could be nitpicked to death over whether it was polite or rude, but we aren't actors reciting a script; you said at the end you both apologized for anything harsh you'd said, and since apologies were made on both sides, maybe this was what it took to clear the air in this particular situation.

I think what you have to do is decide what your goal is. Trying to make someone understand what they're doing that hurts you, followed by trying to make them stop doing it, is a pretty hard row to hoe. Maybe it's worth it in some cases.

It sounds like before this conversation, you were dialing the interaction way back, and that's a different goal, to be in a place where Person X doesn't take up much of your head space, where what they do and say just rolls off you because you don't really care about their opinion--and reducing your opportunities to even hear that opinion. So I think you have to decide which goal you're working towards. If you were still pursuing the latter goal, you should have ended the conversation ASAP (like SamiHami's wording) and perhaps not even contacted him in the first place. Don't give him the opportunity to do "that thing he does" to you.

But if you really think he's capable of improving his behavior towards you--willing and able--then maybe your conversation with him was a good step towards that goal. I think that's definitely the more difficult path, though.
~Lynn2000

CrochetFanatic

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2013, 04:51:03 PM »
Well, we were given pretty short notice, so I hadn't had much time to think.  I guess it might be closer to a sibling relationship, rather than an uncle-niece relationship.  He's about nine years older than I am, so I remember him before his voice changed.  We were closer before, but I think we both grew up with our own different kinds of baggage.  To be honest, I'm not sure I understand our relationship either.  I had a nightmare not too long ago where something happened to him, and I was blindsided by how upsetting it was.  But when I see him, I can't wait to get away from him.  I don't know...

The goal I was working towards (and still am) is to limit contact as much as possible.  I don't know where things will go from here, but this last fight was more or less a draw, and next time I'll just disengage before I can get drawn into something.

Thanks!  I really appreciate the responses.

TurtleDove

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2013, 05:00:17 PM »
Here's what I've noticed in my own life:  no one can make me feel guilty about something I don't feel guilty about.  I think it does no good to argue with your uncle about your decisions, although it might make sense to explain them if you want to.  But I don't think you gain anything by bickering with your uncle.  So he says, "Grandma would like to see you."  You could take this as a guilt trip, if you feel guilty for not seeing Grandma, in which case, if it were me, I would go see Grandma hence no guilt.  Or if you are comfortable with your decision not to see Grandma you could say, "It's too bad I can't make it - it has been a while since I've seen Grandma and I'm sorry about that, but Saturday won't work."  Own your decision, and then there is no guilt, even if your uncle tries to guilt you. 

Basically, don't engage in negative conversations with your uncle. 

TootsNYC

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2013, 05:06:22 PM »
FYI, for future, it's very bad form to say "i haven't decided." That's the equivalent of canceling plans because something better comes along. You're essentially saying, "I'm waiting for something better to come along."

And I would like to encourage you to own your reluctance. I think most of us make a decision about stuff like this, we just don't want to admit it to ourselves.

So maybe make a policy: You only to go his house for holiday gatherings. Or you only go when you can take your bike, so you can leave when you want. Or when the gathering will be large enough for you to spend time with the cousins and ignore him.

And then you have your answer, without dithering: "I have other plans."


also--seriously--drop the rope.

You aren't going to stop him from the guilt trips and little jabs. You know that. So stop trying. And stop caring what he thinks.


It can be really easy--don't "talk" to him.

this was by PM, so it's REALLY easy to just end the conversation.

Just type, "gotta go," and never respond.

Do in conversation what you've decided to do in person: avoid.

TootsNYC

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2013, 05:13:14 PM »
Here's what I've noticed in my own life:  no one can make me feel guilty about something I don't feel guilty about.  I think it does no good to argue with your uncle about your decisions, although it might make sense to explain them if you want to.  But I don't think you gain anything by bickering with your uncle.  So he says, "Grandma would like to see you."  You could take this as a guilt trip, if you feel guilty for not seeing Grandma, in which case, if it were me, I would go see Grandma hence no guilt.  Or if you are comfortable with your decision not to see Grandma you could say, "It's too bad I can't make it - it has been a while since I've seen Grandma and I'm sorry about that, but Saturday won't work."  Own your decision, and then there is no guilt, even if your uncle tries to guilt you. 

Basically, don't engage in negative conversations with your uncle.


I agree with this.

And with what TurtleDove alludes to, which is that if you feel guilty about not going to visit Grandma, that's because *you* think you should go to visit Grandma. Your uncle's comments are just the trigger.

So, own your feelings. Own your guilt. *Do* you think you should go visit Grandma? If so, figure out how to do that in a way that lets you avoid your uncle.

*Do* you miss your cousins? Then figure out how to do that more later.

bonyk

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2013, 05:16:44 PM »
I think you did the right thing.  Some people need to be told explicitly what behaviors they need to stop.  Avoidance might free you up, but it won't solve the issue.

Tea Drinker

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Re: Guilt Trip Leaving The Station (Longer than I meant for it to be)
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2013, 09:28:17 PM »
This isn't the main point, but I think there's a difference between "I haven't decided" with overtones of "and am waiting to see if I get a better offer" and "I'd like to, but I don't know yet if I can, because I have to finish this project" or "I'll come unless they schedule my friend's surgery for that week, because I already promised to stay with her while she's recovering." You wouldn't cancel on the friend you promised to take care of, or go to a party at the expense of finishing your term paper, but if those things are dealt with in time, you'd like to.

If I gave that shape of answer in response to an invitation, I would feel committed to go to that party, not do some other social thing, if it turned out I had that time free.
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