difficult child came late yesterday. I don't even know how or where to start. I'm physically okay, more or less, but mentally I feel completely wiped out. Things could have turned out much uglier by this time but didn't, and for that I am thankful, but mentally I feel like just running far, far, far away and going to sleep somewhere. And I have to say that, had I not had everything I've read on this board bouncing in my head and soul, had this place not existed, I honestly don't know how well I'd be coping right now. She graced me with the friendly public face for the first few hours. It was our cousin's birthday yesterday, and when I asked her if she was tired after her trip, she was until she realized there was a party brewing at his place. At this point she still seemed so neutral, friendly almost (she even gave me a scarf!), I figured what could be the harm. I was planning to go myself to get away from her unpacking - stress makes her revert into tyrant in two seconds flat - I hate to say this or think it because it makes me a bad person, but she's actually more manageable when she's drunk and she drinks a lot, so as long as there are people around to help keep it safe I'm ashamedly grateful for it. One of the more benevolent things was her lying to everyone about everything all night long. Some of the stories and tidbits were so out there I was a little embarrassed on her behalf, but you know what, I'll take that over any more serious behavior any day. I feel bad for doing this, but after a couple of hours I'd made it a sport to measure how entertaining each fib was. Some were mediocre ("I know half the politicians of this country;" "I was offered a unique and high-powered job but I turned it down, because I heard they don't treat their interns good, you know, that's just how I am") and some were truly out there ("I was at this concert for thousands of people and diplomats, and everybody said it was a disaster until I started singing" - she then proceeded to prove herself wrong by physically hogging the karaoke machine for TWO HOURS, despite being painfully tone deaf). My favorite was when she claimed to have successfully landed a plane by sheer force of her mental powers (no, seriously! "Everybody said we would NEVER land, but I told them I would focus my mental energy you know, and they said no way, but then I focused, you know, and we landed, and you know all the passengers next to me turned around and said YOU REALLY HAVE MENTAL POWERS, not that I believe that, but really, isn't it weird how I did that?") Of course then there was the lying about how she'd financed coming here or her trip to Tourist Country a month ago - a hotshot political organization had paid for her because she was important to them, a friend had paid for the other one because she loves difficult child so much... Cousin asked her if she still had that ridiculously big apartment (which she can barely afford, despite mooching off mom for that, too, every month). She said she did, but only because an abusive boyfriend had made her take it, and that she'd tried to work as a waitress but she's so important politically it just made no sense for her to lower herself that way in the evening when she had very, very important conversations with international politicians in the morning. She made us wait for an hour while finding just the right shirt to wear. By this point cousin's party had been without cousin for three hours, and it was long past midnight. Once there, difficult child spent the evening - cousin's girlfriend and a mutual friend were the only other ones there - talking about her grand exploits and her grand self, and oddly, developing a new tic wherein she physically slaps and pushes me for emphasis to her stories. I don't know if it looked playful or not but it felt completely bizarre. She also kept telling everybody, as she is wont to do, how horrid my mother tongue is, kept correcting me in this authotarian tone (I have no bigger issues with the language!) - I guess the cousin told her to stop or gave her a look, because she then switched over to saying "Isn't she cute", "Look how cute she is" everytime I opened my mouth. (Better than last summer - she told every single waiter, neighbor, etc how "aninom has issues with speaking; please don't over-tax her by talking to her; poor thing, she hates your country, refuses to learn the language"). She has done this exact same thing with other things about me - I've spent years worrying about whether I really am ugly / fat thighs / weird nose / smell / too geeky etc etc etc. But NUH-UH. I speak three other languages besides the mother tongue, two of them fluently. I KNOW I'm good at this. THIS she really can't take or talk away from me! So I managed to ignore her, more or less. I detached and realized if it hadn't been the language, she would have found some other way to lower, badger, and objectify me. It's not up to me. Things started getting a bit more draining as soon as we got home from the cousins (and oh - she'd forgotten her cigarettes, so somehow magically - perhaps through her mental powers - she sat right where she was while the three of us ended up going outside in freezing, freezing cold to find her cigarettes, despite already having told her everything was closed). She "unpacked" by simply dumping all her stuff everywhere, marking territory. Not as in, "I'll dump it here because it's close" but like "I'll dump this thing here, that thing there, this thing that was there before I'll just throw out". She also started pointing at random things and telling me they were actually hers (ALL of her stuff is carefully, carefully handled and preserved in a special box, since her property is Precious and Sacrosanct. I know each and every item since mom is scared of throwing the smallest thing away after her visit every year). Fine, I can deal with not having a hair brush. Fine, I've already read that book anyway. Fine... I finally remembered the fact I have a spine, did a 180, and calmly but firmly explained to her that all her stuff was in her room, and all the stuff in my room and drawers was mine. She was on the verge of an explosion but managed to calm herself down. SCORE! Well, that went decently, I thought to myself and went to bed (when she let me - she talked, talked, and talked about everybody and everything she hated for hours, completely ignoring repeated statements and movements of me going to bed - of course getting angry and annoyed if I ever wavered in my rapt attention). She was up until 5AM throwing things around, but whatever. This is why the i-pod was invented. The morning? WHOOOOLE different ballgame. She was angry, she was cranky, she overstepped my comfort zone every five minutes, she demanded I go buy her shampoo because she had had a super-duper-expensive shampoo here before that I must have thrown away and now owed her (not true; she owes me money, on the other hand). Borrowing my disgusting shampoo was out of the question. Go buy her bread. (I ALREADY BOUGHT HER FOOD FOR WAY BEYOND MY MEANS JUST TO AVOID THIS CONVERSATION - but of course, it wasn't good enough, nothing is). Go pour her coffee. Go clean. She had a couple of good minutes, I thought, when I was cleaning up and she started chatting with me, helping me... until I realized she was just shuffling glasses around. She could have actually carried the glasses out for less than half the time it took her to do that charade But you know what, I kept calm and detached. I actually said no! For the first time in my life I totally said no and told her there were boundaries! I was friendly yet firm. I could NOT have had the strength or tools to do this were it not for all of you guys. She didn't blow up too severely, either. She had a near-eruption over towels, of all things - more specifically, over mom and dad having too MANY. I mean of all things... The close and really nice relative we have called to ask me if we were still on for taking a walk with his kids at 2PM. Oh, man, yes, I had time to say before difficult child demanded the phone. She was on it for almost an hour, hung up. Then tried to convince me they'd changed their mind, it was off, I was not to go over there. Ooookay. I messaged (she would've heard me calling) and checked that we indeed were still on. She wouldn't let me shower or do the laundry - hers was an emergency, she hadn't showered, she hadn't washed her clothes, etc. Fine. I'm picking my battles, like telling her I honestly am concerned for the electricity bill if the boiler isn't shut off on time, if we don't partition the tv time, if laptops aren't unplugged etc. She made a ruckus, I didn't visibly react, she proceeded to ignore me for a few minutes... but since she seems PHYSICALLY INCAPABLE of leaving you alone once she's started, she resorted to bizarre methods to rile me up - squeezing herself against me, leaning into my ear and yelling song lyrics, tickling me, picking me up and dragging me against the door frame, etc. It was insane. But I didn't budge! I stayed calm and about as exciting to have an argument with as a wet rag. It worked beautifully, even though I felt sick to my stomach inside all the while it was happening, worrying whether it'd escalate. Before I left, I took 1 of 2 trash bags I'd just filled out, and asked her if she could take the other one out when she left for town. Yes, yes, she'd take it out, no problem - she then proceeded to enumerate all the things she would do for me, because that is just who she is: she'd remove all the luggage and stuff that was everywhere in the common space (she'd unpacked nothing in her own room), she'd pay me back for the cell phone refill, she'd stock up my fridge, she'd clean... I came back around 6PM. I don't know how to describe the mess. Things were everywhere. Heavy cigarette smell in every room. Things were in bizarre places. She'd thrown the modem around, perhaps because internet is slow in this country and she got angry at it (maybe it looked at her with disrespect or something). She'd removed the trash... by placing it on my shoes. She had MAJORLY neglected to flush (really, is it that complicated of a mechanism?). As a complement, the bathroom soap - a big bottle - is GONE. Yesterday cousin told her to wash her hands, since this city is really struggling with the swine flu, and I'd dared to echo that sentiment... but of course difficult child's position was "I can't get sick". Well, even if that were true, you can still infect others - not her problem. Of course she hadn't even touched the laundry machine. We only have one drying rack, and I need to wash clothes for my trip Tuesday... if she comes home to find my clothes on it, well tough, should have done yours when you said you would. TV has to always be on, even when she's not watching. Everything has to always be on, because hey, she's not the one paying the bills, so that makes it all fine. Right? I know none of this is that big of a deal. I'm just tired. All the small stuff keeps collecting, amounting, draining me of all energy and will to deal with the next tiny encroachment or hurt. I'm so tired. I collected all her stuff - you wouldn't BELIEVE the places she'd scattered it - and put them by her door. I know I may pay for it tomorrow, but you know what, I'm not going to pretend like any of this is okay. Not this time.