Direct Answers – A Painful Tension

A Painful Tension

My aunt has not spoken to me in three years. We used to be close. Summers I would stay with her husband and her daughter, my same age, out of state. Now I wonder if the get-togethers were her husband's doing.

He passed and she remarried. After her father (my grandfather) passed, this side of the family fell apart.

We no longer speak to each other and I am shunned. I am not invited to their outings or activities though I used to be. I can't get an explanation. In addition, my aunt demanded that I give back a sewing machine of her mother's, my grandmother, which I had in my home for 20 years.

I think she waited until grandpa passed because she didn't want to upset my grandfather. I didn't know I wasn't entitled to it. I thought giving it back would get us talking again but it didn't. She also declined me as a friend on Facebook.

How do I go about asking my aunt in a letter what her problem with me is? I feel she might say there isn't a problem or I'm overthinking the situation. For some reason I can't let this go. Why is she treating me like I no longer exist?

~ Molly

Molly, some people just want crazy, or they want to make something out of nothing, or they have festering resentments.

They weren't the first one called when there was a death in the family. They think you led their daughter down the wrong path. They believe you brought the wrong casserole to a family get-together. Or they can't believe the sewing machine wasn't given to them.

Most importantly, they think you should magically know their why. But when you ask why, they won't tell you. They know saying aloud what's in their head makes no sense or makes them sound petty. If you poke at their problem, like picking at a scab, it makes things worse.

If your aunt told you her reasons, you would have a chance to reason with her or apologize. She doesn't want that. She can't live on an equal level with you. She needs you on the bottom so she can be on top.

Nice people want to find out what they did. But you probably didn't do anything and asking opens you up to more pain. When people act like this, the first step is to move them from your inner circle to the circle of humankind. Give them the treatment you give the rest of humanity.

The second step is to work on the relationships you have and make more connections in your life. But the problem is, being cast out of the group attacks your self-esteem. That's why as a third step we suggest reading Amy Cuddy's book "Presence." It can help you maintain a sense of personal power despite what others do.

People have never been freer to be independent than they are now. Life moves at a faster pace. We get to pick and choose. We don't have to wait for the crops to grow. We can be independent and live from a sense of what is under our control.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Column for the week of April 25, 2016

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