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TLDR: When you are stuck in a chaotic situation that can at times be damaging to your sense of self and security, how do you still find peace and keep negative thought cycles from becoming dominant? 

 

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So, long story short I live and work for a pretty exhausting person who is also family, my Aunt. She is a medical worker who is often on call and goes long stretches taking care of her patients at the hospital so she needs a live-in nanny to take care of her kids. Enter, me! 

 

Problem is I'm building a lot of pretty complex anger issues towards her and its throwing my life off so hard that I'm starting to lose hold of some really, really good things in my life from my sheer exhaustion and frustration with her. 

 

Some of the issues are pretty big ones: rotting food left on the kitchen counters, open bags of leaking trash in the hallways and kitchens, constantly forgetting the bills so the electricity/water is turned off, never doing any dishes/laundry (even her own) and leaving them all for me to do, and a very bossy attitude. She can be the most amazing woman, but she is also very toxic - much of our family won't speak with her due to some of her behavior. She has habits of getting stressed and needing to "take it out" on someone - so she'll pick at you, criticize what you are doing, how you think, or your opinions on things until she provokes a reaction from you. Then, having made you mad or upset or cry, she puffs up so proud that she doesn't get emotional and a mes like you. 

 

I have tried ignoring her, staring into space, telling her I do not want to fight, trying to change the subject, walking out of the room, politely and calmly disagreeing with her... but she will get increasingly aggressive and hysterical until the children are sobbing in the background and I finally lose my cool and blow up. 

 

I do not want to do this anymore. 

 

I also feel that the chronic stress of waking up day after day to a wrecked house, mile-long to-do list, and getting tied to the house for days on end is starting to bleed into a lot of my life and ruin some really good things I have going for me. I get about two days off a month right now and have to report back to the house at a strict time early in the evening because she does not feel safe sleeping along with the children in her home. 

 

All in all, this situation is shredding my sense of calm - a sense I have struggled for years to grow and maintain from a hard childhood and young adulthood. I have overcome so many more difficult things - childhood poverty, disabled parents, abusive mate who tried to kill me - that this... this just seems so horrifically trivial to get worn out about. 

 

I think its the environment. I spend hours - hours - every day cleaning, but as soon as I do she comes home and literally wrecks it again. She has told me she finds the energy of a clean room to be very upsetting, to "open and free" with the energy. Used tissues, empty food wrappers, tons of clothes, paperwork, books... within a day or two whatever room I dedicate myself to will be wrecked. She will often buy new kitchenware rather than do the dishes. 

 

This is unfortunately the opposite of how I like to live. Walking into my bedroom from the rest of the house is like changing worlds due to the level of cleanliness. It is my only oasis. 

 

I know that this situation is not sustainable for me, but for now it is ideal for both myself, my Aunt... and, finally, her two little girls who I have helped raise for several years now and love deeply as my cousins. It also pays more - barely - than I'd get working as a CNA right now. 

 

But I'm hurting, Nerds. 

 

My inner peace is gone and its beginning to hurt things like a fantastic relationship I just found. I find myself walking from filthy room to filthy room in the house so filled with anger and exhaustion I can hardly feel motivation for anything else in my life, like all my creative hobbies or health goals. I'm so burned out from endlessly cleaning for hours and hours for months now, only to have it wrecked sometimes in less than an hour. 

 

At the same time, I am often told I do not do enough. I did not clean her room, make her bed, take the kids to the library that day, take them swimming by begging the neighbors to use their pool uninvited, spend hours home-schooling them, and so on. 

 

Suddenly, without anything I feel confident or good at or any reassurance, I'm withering. 

 

I remember once being able to let so much just roll off me. I remember releasing negative emotions with every breath and having the energy it took to literally move mountains. I remember the peace I felt when I would meditate outside and watch the sunlight halo around an emerald leaf. 

 

remember peace. I am trying very hard to achieve that sense again. I do not want this anger in me. I'm ashamed I am angry. I feel it is a failing on my part, some way of attaching myself to the wrong thing in the wrong manner, of not being able to let go enough...

 

But, Nerds, how does one let go of everything and yet stand up for themselves at the same time? I know once upon a time I knew that answer and used it to amazingly, but now? I can hardly see beyond the sink, counter, and table full of crusting dishes. 

 

I can hardly see past my sadness over feeling like a tiny pebble in a tidal wave, trying to make a healthy and clean life for these two little girls I love and am responsible to care for. 

 

I am worried. I feel the negative thoughts, anger, frustration, disappointment, and judgmental thoughts that are building up inside of me are setting the stage for a negative shift in thinking. If that happens, even when these "problems" are removed, I will still have the negative thinking patterns and they will be detrimental to the life I want to live. 

 

I have noticed my optimism has begun to dim and take some serious blows and more negative lines of thought are far, far more common than they once were. 

 

But, again, I'm stuck here. For better or worse, this is my life for nearly another year. 

 

I see this as a huge challenge, but one I want to take on. I plan on going into some very difficult places in the world to do my best to work as a nurse and nurse educator all around the planet. Things won't always be peachy, clean, or turn out the best. But I know keeping my mind positive is how I will work best as a healer and for myself. 

 

So what do I do? How do I start to address this? If I let go of too much, am I going to get walked all over by her? Is that just my ego talking - or is there true danger in submitting so much to someone else's will, even if they are paying you? 

 

Even in the midst of all this chaos, even with someone who can at times be very damaging to the heart and mind as they try to release their own stress, how would you go about finding peace? 

 

I'm re-reading The Power of Now right now. I know a lot of people slam it as a spiritual book, but even as an atheist I find a lot of peace and guidance from the wisdom that is offered there. Focusing on being in the present moment and not buying into fear of the future or replaying the past is helping in amazing ways, but its a difficult habit to start up again... especially when you get woken up every morning with a list of things to do from a bossy, angry voice. 

 

But I do not want to lose my sense of peace. But the piles of stuff everywhere still make me sad. Exhausted. Feel defeated and like I'm letting everyone down in fulfilling my responsibility as a nanny, cousin, and niece. 

 

What would you do? 

Level 0 Healer-in-Training Druid-to-be Half-Elf

Too N000bly For Stats

 

One Mountain at a Time || Challenge #1

 

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." - Pablo Picasso 

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You have two options.

 

Keep working for her and try to detach from her attitude and what is going on, and see each situation as an opportunity to grow.

 

Stop working for her to get out of a bad situation.

 

 

Sometimes the best decision is actually to separate ourselves from negative environments. Sure, it can be a good opportunity for growth, but only if we are able to detach enough to allow it to help us. She seems very toxic, like my boss used to be. When I had to work there, I tried to learn from his anger and moodiness, and throwing things (ha!), but I ended up quitting when I felt confident I had learned everything I could and now the best thing for me was to take the initiate to tell him I wasn't working for him anymore.

 

Remember that people do not get angry, stressed out, or have emotional issues because they are inwardly strong people. So your first mistake is assuming she should know better. This is where compassion comes in. She has these problems because she isn't strong! So this mindset helps with patience. A wise teacher of mine taught me this.

 

Everyone has different things they need to work on. Make sure you are not putting up with her because you are afraid to tell her you cannot help her anymore. Make sure you are doing it actually for the good of her family. Try to find you base motivation and that will lead to know what to do!

 

Being detached does not mean being a doormat to anyone. Sometimes what you need is to learn how to become more fiery and say no. But for some people, it is easy for them to be bold and tell people no, and in their case I would tell them to be humble and quiet, because it is best for them. So if you are introverted and afraid to tell her something, take small steps to being bold, and don't get bossed around. Remember that working for someone does not meant they own you. Actually, they need you. You are trading your work for money. That is all there is to it. Take control of the situation.

 

 

Keep me up to date and let me know what you learn from looking within yourself!

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I'm so sorry you're going through this.  It will be ok.  This is clearly something you've thought about a lot, and that you are putting a lot of energy into right now.  I am confident that you will find the best way forward for you.

 

Substitute "bookseller" for "nanny" and "father" for "aunt," and this was me a year ago:

 

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So, long story short I live and work for a pretty exhausting person who is also family, my Aunt. She is a medical worker who is often on call and goes long stretches taking care of her patients at the hospital so she needs a live-in nanny to take care of her kids. Enter, me! 

 

 

Hopefully someone with some skills at navigating the battlefield will chime in.  I can only advise from my area of experience, which is in learning to put myself first and getting out of a toxic situation.  I have to run out the door shortly, so for now:

 

-Your nieces/nephews/all the people who love you deserve to have the best version of you in their lives, even if that means putting yourself ahead of them.  It is okay to walk away from a toxic situation, even when there's family involved, and sometimes walking away is also healthy for them as you will no longer be enabling their toxic behavior.

 

-Do you have some trusted friends or family members you can talk to?  Please talk to them and ask them what they think would be best.  When something like this happened to me, I was ready to chuck my entire career and go bag groceries to get out of my horrible work situation.  It took my husband's out of the box thinking to help me see that I could keep my career and still lose the horrific job.  I now run my own bookshop/gallery, and am approximately 1000% happier.

 

-Find or make something that's 100% yours and own it.  Is there a mental or physical space that is just yours, even if it's your car, or a corner in your friend's house, or a yoga studio and make that place/mental space be totally yours.  Practice shutting out all the negativity when you're there.  If it's a physical space, keep it the way you want, whether that's clean or dirty or whatever.

 

Have to run, but sending you so much support.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Attributed to Ian Maclaren.

 

"I must be cruel only to be kind;

Thus bad begins, and worse remains behind." William Shakespeare, Hamlet.

 

Support me over at my first challenge!

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You can just leave the situation, but I don't think you want that.

The truth is, it sounds like she has depression issues as all of the dirtiness and attitude are indicative of.

I say, accept the situation, allow yourself to take pride in doing a job that is horrible. Things get bad and YOU make them better.

You know the saying "Go with the flow"? Yeah, do that. There is a reason for it. Sometimes the current is so strong, there is no way you can swim up it. If you just let it flow, you get to flow as well and find appreciation in the beauty along the way. There will be a shallow spot with calmer water up ahead for you to stand up and walk out without a fight.

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Remember that people do not get angry, stressed out, or have emotional issues because they are inwardly strong people. So your first mistake is assuming she should know better. This is where compassion comes in. She has these problems because she isn't strong! So this mindset helps with patience. A wise teacher of mine taught me this.

 

Everyone has different things they need to work on. Make sure you are not putting up with her because you are afraid to tell her you cannot help her anymore. Make sure you are doing it actually for the good of her family. Try to find you base motivation and that will lead to know what to do!

 

Being detached does not mean being a doormat to anyone. Sometimes what you need is to learn how to become more fiery and say no. But for some people, it is easy for them to be bold and tell people no, and in their case I would tell them to be humble and quiet, because it is best for them. So if you are introverted and afraid to tell her something, take small steps to being bold, and don't get bossed around. Remember that working for someone does not meant they own you. Actually, they need you. You are trading your work for money. That is all there is to it. Take control of the situation.

 

Ah, thank you so much!! I read over this message several times in the past week and each time something new resonated with me. 

 

I really do need to remember she isn't as strong as I give her credit for, in some ways. I've always looked up to my Aunt in so many ways, but there is a lot of truth in her lack of ability to handle her emotions without hurting someone and my assumptions that she knows better or has control she is not using. I don't believe she is the kind of person who would be that cruel - to hurt with the full knowledge and awareness she is when she has other options available in her behavior - so I need to accept that she just may not have the knowledge I feel I do in being able to stop myself before I react (most of the time) out of hand as she does. In fact, I feel I need to do a lot less thinking about her capabilities in general and just find strength and centering in knowing my capabilities. 

 

A core of confidence in myself could go a long way, not only with this but so much else in life. Perhaps it is better I channel my energy that way, instead of trying to figure my Aunt out. 

 

I'm so sorry you're going through this.  It will be ok.  This is clearly something you've thought about a lot, and that you are putting a lot of energy into right now.  I am confident that you will find the best way forward for you.

 

Substitute "bookseller" for "nanny" and "father" for "aunt," and this was me a year ago:

 

 

Hopefully someone with some skills at navigating the battlefield will chime in.  I can only advise from my area of experience, which is in learning to put myself first and getting out of a toxic situation.  I have to run out the door shortly, so for now:

 

-Your nieces/nephews/all the people who love you deserve to have the best version of you in their lives, even if that means putting yourself ahead of them.  It is okay to walk away from a toxic situation, even when there's family involved, and sometimes walking away is also healthy for them as you will no longer be enabling their toxic behavior.

 

-Do you have some trusted friends or family members you can talk to?  Please talk to them and ask them what they think would be best.  When something like this happened to me, I was ready to chuck my entire career and go bag groceries to get out of my horrible work situation.  It took my husband's out of the box thinking to help me see that I could keep my career and still lose the horrific job.  I now run my own bookshop/gallery, and am approximately 1000% happier.

 

-Find or make something that's 100% yours and own it.  Is there a mental or physical space that is just yours, even if it's your car, or a corner in your friend's house, or a yoga studio and make that place/mental space be totally yours.  Practice shutting out all the negativity when you're there.  If it's a physical space, keep it the way you want, whether that's clean or dirty or whatever.

 

Have to run, but sending you so much support.

 

Thank you so much - I really do know I need to get out of this situation, in the long-run. Right now financially and logicistically it makes the most sense, but I'm taking steps to make sure I can run if I need to. Saving up money, getting my other job options opened up by certifying my CNA in our new state, and so on. 

 

I really do want to do my best for these two kidlets I take care of. I've been with them for four years now and I know I will only be with them for one more year at most, since by then I'll be living with my husband-to-be probably husband by then. Having an ending in sight helps a lot with surviving the rough times and, as you said, trying to give them my best self. Being one of the major care-takers in these kid's lives is a serious matter to me, especially since the smallest one doesn't remember life without me in it. I really hope that knowing the end is coming will let me do my best by them and start making all of us strong enough for when I'm not longer a daily part of their lives. Even if its just part of my adult life unfolding, for them... well, it won't be easy to understand how someone they rely on and love just vanishes. 

 

Yeah, if the kids weren't involved - my wee cousins - then I would have quit ages ago and moved back in with my family... but I won't let my love and concern for them keep me in a situation that is going to really, really hurt me either. 

 

The majority of my family believes this Aunt has narcissistic personality disorder and, honestly, she meets all the criteria to a text-book case. I'm still trying to help, because I love all of them, but accepting this is probably true has really helped me feel more distance from her behavior as a reflection of my behavior/worth too. 

 

And MsLouise, that last bit is SO SO TRUE. Having something that is totally my own is what I need more than anything right now. A project, a hobby, a place that is just totally mine, something I can stand in and feel totally, utterly, completely confident in. I'm working on expanding that right now. 

 

 

 

Thank you to everyone who replied! I no longer feel like this situation is making me drown and have a renewed determination to not only make the most of every moment I've got, even in this situation, but do so living in a manner that makes me feel I'm aligned with my personal life philosophy. Even if that does mean biting my tongue and nearly tying myself up in knots to ignore her attacks at times. There is an end to it, coming up... 

Level 0 Healer-in-Training Druid-to-be Half-Elf

Too N000bly For Stats

 

One Mountain at a Time || Challenge #1

 

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." - Pablo Picasso 

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Late reply, but I have been dealing with the depressions and haven't done anything in a few months.  

Not sure how things are going since you said you are doing better with all, and I hope that it is all going better. 

Last week my Mom was having a conversation with either her mother or a sister and it took a turn for the worse, my mom attempted to defend her position and in doing so escalated an argument  that ended the conversation on a bad note.  It reminded of a seminar that my friend went to and that I heard part of at church a long time ago.  I know that you stated you are atheist in your original post  but I still think it may be worth a shot a to through it out. there is a book called the DNA of Relationships by Gary Smalley.  From I listened to a recording of the seminar that my friend made and it had a lot of good info on how to deal with some of those types of confrontations, I would like to get it again myself or something to help me communicate better with people in general, most of all my parents.

Briguy, level 2 STR 1|DEX 2|STA 1|CON 3|WIS 3|CHA 2[/TD][/TR][/TABLE] "Learn the principle, abide by the principle, and dissolve the principle. In short, enter a mold without being caged in it. Obey the principle without being bound by it. LEARN, MASTER AND ACHIEVE!!!" Bruce Lee "To Live by a principal is to live, do die with no principal you have not lived."

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Seeing this topic too (even though I'm also a bit late) really resonates with a book I'm reading called Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. It's heavily geared towards Christians, but still has really awesome points and advice. Personally I just skip over most of the religious stuff. The first chapter was a tiny bit grating too, but if you happen to pick it up, keep reading!

 

It sounds like an absolutely miserable place to be and I hope you're holding on. MsLouise had some really good advice there. Here's some of what I've picked up from the book so far:

-anger isn't always a terrible thing, often times it's a warning system for when someone is tromping all over your boundaries

-people who see they can take and you'll give will pretty much take and take until you draw the line

-it's hard to care for people when you're not taking care of yourself (burning yourself out)

-when you give with anger or begrudgingly, it's not good giving. It's giving because you're afraid of something, such as ruining your relationship with her. True giving doesn't burn you out.

 

My family has had to deal with some unsavory relatives who were really toxic and dramatic people. They refused to listen to us, disrespected us, all sorts of stuff. Each one of my family came to the decision that there really wasn't any reason to stick around in such a damaging relationship. And you know what? We all feel better and I don't miss them.

 

When you set boundaries, one of two things will happen. The person will be angry and completely not understanding, and will not pursue the relationship unless it's back the way it was, with them not respecting you or your boundaries. The second is that the person might be hurt but will ultimately respect you and try to understand why you're doing what you are and what you're after. If the boundary is respected, then it can be renegotiated later.

 

Would you really even want a relationship with the first kind of person?

Half-Elf Ranger (Lvl 2)

STR 2 | DEX 2 | STA 3 | CON 2 | WIS 1 | CHA 3

 

“What you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do.â€

Challenge | Battle Log

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I am so glad to see this last post, because that is the exact same book that I was going to recommend to you.

 

Psychologically, this is a very toxic situation. I know you are concerned about your cousins and it sounds like you are right to be concerned about them. I think you need to be concerned for yourself as well. You definitely need to set up some boundaries with this individual. If she is indeed a narcissist, then she won't take that well. I would have a plan B and maybe a plan C.

 

I am reminded of the warning that you need to save yourself before you can help other people. Letting your little cousins see their mother treat you like this only reinforces the pattern that it is ok to be treated so poorly. They are much more likely to accept the same sort of treatment because they see you, someone they love and trust, accepting it.

 

I would also immediately consult a counselor. This is a really rotten situation and you need more professional advice than you are going to get from a message board online to get out of it.

Level 2 Human Druid

3.375 STR / 1.375 DEX / 0 STA / 2 CON / 3.75 WIS / 1 CHA

 

"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." - Albert Einstein

"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer." - Albert Camus

"There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly." - R. Buckminster Fuller

Introduction - Daily Battle Log - Challenges 1 - Current

 

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The Power of Now is a beautiful book with beautiful lessons and advice in it that I reread as well. Don't let anyone make you feel bad for finding peace from it. There was a lot of Tolle slamming because Oprah was touting him so much, but that's more just the Oprah haters and the people who replace an oppressive dogma with oppressive Buddhist dogma because it makes them feel better and then they lash out when its not strict traditional Buddha teaching. The man went through things, and learned truths from them which are validated by the presence in other religions. The universality of the truths is what makes them truths. :) No one has to approve your books to make your peace valid. :)

 

It sounds like your aunt possibly has some hoarding issues and definitely depression and control issues. Only she can really explore that, and psychoanalyzing can easily lead to arguments. I would just apply simple logic to her. If she wants the mess, then do not clean her room, but clean the rest. When she complains her room is not clean, calmly tell her you felt you would be imposing on her need for a open free space while you maintained the shared living space for her girls to enjoy. I would run the vacuum in her room on what floor is visible and leave the rest since she "likes" her mess so much. You are going to have to really be assertive - you know you are doing a good job, and you are doing whats right by cleaning the house. You may want to keep a calender and remind her when you know bills are done. I doubt you are going to be happy, but if you take some firm control you may find some peace. You can explain it as "You have so much to worry about already - let me take care of these things so you can rest." 

If logic can no longer be applied to this woman, your best option is to leave. If you can't leave, you may need to organize an intervention with a therapist and family members - especially any who she might listen to. 

Texas Mom of Boys, Druid Chick

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