How Do I Help Her Detach?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by susiestar, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    The aunt who is in town, M, has ALWAYS made a huge deal about loving me like I was her daughter, how important my family is to her (husband, kids, and me), etc... I am supposed to accept that she loves me as much as she loves her own son. When I was little it was like that. Now...

    When we lived an hour from her she did not once meet us somewhere in between except when my mother offered to pay for a Chuck E Cheese party for her granddau. She regularly drove to visit someone who lived less than a mile from us - and not one time did she call or stop by.

    If she comes to visit because there is something about gfgbro, she spends time with him on at least half of the days of the visit.

    If she comes to visit because it is about me, I see her 2 times in 2 weeks when I can be squeezed in to a family dinner or between visiting some friend she met the last time she came to visit.

    When I was in the hospital with cellulitis, M is the one who came to help me. She and my mom spent their version of 2 days "cleaning" my house. It was greatly appreciated, but it was less than 3 hours one day and 4 the other.

    Then they promised to come back, M stayed two weeks after that, and we didn't see her or my mom the entire time except for a "family dinner" that it was CLEAR that inviting us was an afterthought,

    Same is happening this trip. M is calling gfgbro daily, and not calling us at all.

    While it twinges for me, and pisses my husband off, Jessie has now put it all together.

    She is very insightful for being just 15.

    SHE said all of the above to me. I didn't bring it up except to say that when we do something for someone else it has to be because it will make us happy. NOT because it will get that someone to do something.

    How the heck do I teach her to detach from this, to let it be, accept time with M for what it is, and to ignore all of her promises - they are nice thoughts but will NEVER EVER be carried out.

    They were going to call her to go out for a seafood lunch last week.

    Not a single call to any of our phones.

    She is so mad and hurt and I hate hate hate to see it. This is the part that makes me angry and hurt. That it upsets my daughter, who really does NOT need any more koi in her life.
  2. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    I don't have a identical experience, but I do have one family member that his has a fair resemblance to. I don't know that there is a way to help a 15 year old really "detach" completely. And we want of course to help spare all pain for our kids. Unfortunately it hurts all ages to be let down by someone we want to count on and feel valued by. I don't blame her for not feeling good about this.

    How would I handle it? By telling her you understand (and can relate) to how it hurts her feelings and she wishes it could be different. By telling her when she brings it up that you have just had to accept that this is how this M. person is, and it isn't at all a reflection of any of you that she chooses to not have a true relationship and reach out when she is able and ends up choosing not to. That it is really about M. All of it. A inability for M. to value what is important, and is really quite sad on M.s part as she is missing out on having family available to share time with that can love her and be there for her as well. By teaching her that some people, even those we love, can just suck at interpersonal relationships and others just need to accept she isnt going to be who they wish she could be in their lives. That you can still love her. Can still enjoy her company when you do get to see her. That it gets easier as she gets older to realize that it isn't worth being constantly hurt over, in the end she has a terrific family who loves her and if M chooses to not be part of it as often as she is capable, oh well for M. Because nobody can change someone else.

    I think a key thing is helping her understand it isnt' personal. It is just who this M is and how she operates in her life.

    It sure stinks though doesn't it? Sorry she can't see the family she's missing out on. I'm glad you have each other.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    My mother is this way with difficult child. She is as bad as a father always acting like they will visit or want to beinvolved, then never "being able" to follow thru. Plus, she wants to tell difficult child things that are just not her place to tell him and some are down-right inappropriate- like telling him at 12yo that he was big enough that he could stand up to me and not have to listen to me.

    So, I stopped bringing her name uup or mentioning her at all to difficult child. If he brings her up, which is rare, I answer the question or make a short statement then move onto a different subject. I listen if he expresses frustration or thoughts about it like you said Jess was expressing things she has figured out. The last time my mother mentioned difficult child she said she wanted me to tell him that she couldn't wait to see him and hoped it was soon. Instead of relaying that to difficult child automatically, the way I would have in the past, I emailed her back and asked said "before I tell difficult child something that makes it sound like you will be seeing him soon, could you let me know how you plan to see him soon?" And after she responded to that with something about just wanting him to feel loved by her, I never relayed the message to difficult child. This was after knowing he'd been released from Department of Juvenile Justice but had to immediately return to public school, she had said she wasn't coming here to visit and it was inconvenient for us to visit her.

    To get to my point, let it taper off, in my humble opinion. Don't dwell on it yourself or keep bringing it up. Show your child how you have let it go and moved on and keep your mind on things and people that are real and constructive, not empty promises or words that mean nothing.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Letting it taper off is a good idea. I know she has to learn this stuff on her own, just like I did, but it still hoovers.

    As M lives in OH and we do not, visits are not a frequent thing. For some reason the phones work differently in M's world. They only work for me or the kids to call her, never the other way around. If this is mentioned she will call every week for two weeks, then skip a week, then 2, then no more until it is brought up to her. The entire time she tells my mom all about what I said when she called me - even if she has skipped months!!!

    So Jess will learn that we are nice when she comes to visit, but we don't count on her for anything ever.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I'm coming late to this, Susie.

    My advice - the world is full of people like this, as well as also full of decent people who will make an effort and be honest. When you get hurt by someone like this for the first time when you're 30, it's a lot more difficult to deal with than when you're 15. The sooner Jessie learns tis lesson (it's not her, it's M) the better off she will be long-term and the better armed against tis sort of inconsistency. And if she learns this wile young, she will remember to never be like M herself.

    It's possible that M calls gfgbro more often because he is much more 'needy' than you, and she seems to me to be the sort of person who needs to be needed. When you're self-sufficient and capable, she doesn't feel you need her as much as others do.

    As for the phones only working in one direction - sadly, that is the case for too many people. Sis-in-law is like this at the moment. She used to have an arrangement with her mother (mother in law) that they would ring one another every Friday evening, taking turns. One week mother in law would call; the nest, sis-on-law would call. Sis-in-law has plenty of money, but she recently left her job. I suspect (due to the time difference) tat she used to ring mother in law from work towards the end of her working day (so work footed the phone bill for the cross-continent call). But now mother in law calls every week. Sis-in-law never calls. Well, rarely. When she does call, she gets off the phone quickly. But if it's someone else's nickel, sis-in-law will chat for hours.

    I have friends who are a bit like this - I will ring, leave a message if they're out, then call back a few days later. "I was just about to ring you!" I will hear, but 9 times out of 10, I'm the one calling. I'm finding that with people like this, only the ones I feel are worth pursuing as friends, am I still in touch with. With others, I just let it drift because frankly, I need some reason to stay close friends with people and some reciprocation in some way is needed; otherwise it's not two-way and therefore not truly friendship.