My family are very nosy and controlling, advice needed. Watch

Mmayfair5
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Hi everyone,
I'm a 29 year old, married phd student and am finding my family increasingly unbearable. I grew up with just a mam, never knew my dad and had no siblings, I have some step siblings since my mam married. My grandmother and aunty were therefore involved in my upbringing, occasionally babysitting and such - but nothing else, I never lived with them or was childminded by them. We also got on well but basically since I started my undergraduate degree over 10 years ago, they have become unbearable in the way they act towards me. Often acting as though I'm their own child and telling others I'm like a daughter. They tell me off for small mistakes or openly judge my choices and opinions. They invite themselves round and try to clean or bring items they 'think' I need. This has become worse in the last 4 years, when I met my fiance, then got married and then unfortunately got thyroid cancer (this is treatable but obviously made me more introverted and left me with some long term health issues). They both tried to interfere in my wedding plans - including my grandmother booking additional caterers the day before because she felt it weird I didn't have a buffet. Since then if they come to my house they will make criticisms on my decor, husband, food, life choices etc. They regularly bring me things I didn't ask for because they think I need them. And if I pull back from spending time with them they tell my mam I'm like a stranger, or using my cancer as an excuse to not see them. Since I started my PhD they have even looked at my universities term times to see when I'm free, and if I claim I'm working they challenge me on it.
I'm getting to the point where I find the less time I spend with them, when I do finally see them their need to control and criticise is worse! I don't know what to do, I don't want to upset them but they are becoming suffocating. How can I get them to back off without upsetting them
Thanks in advance and sorry for the long message!
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Mmayfair5
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(Original post by OR321)
Try saving up and investing into your own house
Myself and my husband own our own house! This happens when they visit us...
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username4911280
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Have you actually done something about it or are you expecting them to read your mind? At the risk of sounding harsh, you're 29 years old. You're a grown person. If somebody in your life adds toxicity you should have the ability to deal with it accordingly and not let people walk over you, no matter how close to home they are. You need to get a backbone and actually tell these people that they have no business in your affairs and that if they have an issue with your home then they are free to leave. Set boundaries for what can and can't be said/done when you communicate with them so that if they cross a line, you can cut them out knowing that they knew it was coming. You don't want to "upset them" but they seem to be causing enough upset themselves. Eventually, you need to act regardless of what upset it will bring them. But the more serious part is that you need to learn to stand up for yourself - don't be a doormat!
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Mmayfair5
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(Original post by _polaroid)
Have you actually done something about it or are you expecting them to read your mind? At the risk of sounding harsh, you're 29 years old. You're a grown person. If somebody in your life adds toxicity you should have the ability to deal with it accordingly and not let people walk over you, no matter how close to home they are. You need to get a backbone and actually tell these people that they have no business in your affairs and that if they have an issue with your home then they are free to leave. Set boundaries for what can and can't be said/done when you communicate with them so that if they cross a line, you can cut them out knowing that they knew it was coming. You don't want to "upset them" but they seem to be causing enough upset themselves. Eventually, you need to act regardless of what upset it will bring them. But the more serious part is that you need to learn to stand up for yourself - don't be a doormat!
I totally get where you are coming from, I definitely am guilty of being a doormat at times. Just before Christmas I told them their behaviour was becoming unacceptable and that they needed to respect my choices and space. They both got hysterical, my aunty even text me to say I'd ruined her Christmas and her life wasn't worth living without me and my mam in it!? Which I understand completely is manipulative, but it's incredibly hard to not feel guilty when it's your own family and we are quite a small one at that. I've started ignoring criticism and if they challenge my life choices, telling them we'll have to agree to disagree. During my cancer treatment I developed ptsd so my own anxiety doesn't help, I almost definitely overthink things. I suppose I'm hoping for a way to do it without hurting them but they are very unstable and I guess I've answered my own question with that one. Thanks for your honesty anyways.
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username4911280
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(Original post by Mmayfair5)
I totally get where you are coming from, I definitely am guilty of being a doormat at times. Just before Christmas I told them their behaviour was becoming unacceptable and that they needed to respect my choices and space. They both got hysterical, my aunty even text me to say I'd ruined her Christmas and her life wasn't worth living without me and my mam in it!? Which I understand completely is manipulative, but it's incredibly hard to not feel guilty when it's your own family and we are quite a small one at that. I've started ignoring criticism and if they challenge my life choices, telling them we'll have to agree to disagree. During my cancer treatment I developed ptsd so my own anxiety doesn't help, I almost definitely overthink things. I suppose I'm hoping for a way to do it without hurting them but they are very unstable and I guess I've answered my own question with that one. Thanks for your honesty anyways.
I'm just 18 years old so I imagine you're more grown and experienced than I am, but I'll just give you advice from someone who's already disowned a parent.

I'm sure you've heard of the phrase "Blood is thicker than water". It is taken to mean that the bond with your "small family" will be stronger than those you form with friends and those who aren't related. But the phrase actually comes from the Bible, and the FULL phrase is:

“The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.”

The real meaning is actually the exact opposite. The bonds formed between other people is likely to be stronger than the biological relationships with your family.

Why am I telling you this? Because I also came from a small-knit family and I felt that I would be alone otherwise. But sometimes you have to realise that toxic family members are like weeds. If you don't pull them out then you're gonna allow them to overrun your garden. Of course, right now disowning your family feels like it's impossible. Especially without a father figure. But if they continue down this road your life will either be overrun with weeds or you're going to be assertive and pull them out. You need to stop worrying about hurting them. They didn't worry about hurting you. I would say cut them out, but I appreciate from first-hand experience that it takes time. This relationship is not salvageable. You have to slowly distance yourself until you can go no-contact. Only then will you be happy.
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HGS345
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(Original post by Mmayfair5)
I totally get where you are coming from, I definitely am guilty of being a doormat at times. Just before Christmas I told them their behaviour was becoming unacceptable and that they needed to respect my choices and space. They both got hysterical, my aunty even text me to say I'd ruined her Christmas and her life wasn't worth living without me and my mam in it!? Which I understand completely is manipulative, but it's incredibly hard to not feel guilty when it's your own family and we are quite a small one at that. I've started ignoring criticism and if they challenge my life choices, telling them we'll have to agree to disagree. During my cancer treatment I developed ptsd so my own anxiety doesn't help, I almost definitely overthink things. I suppose I'm hoping for a way to do it without hurting them but they are very unstable and I guess I've answered my own question with that one. Thanks for your honesty anyways.
It doesn't really matter if you hurt them to be honest. At the end of the day you're simply speaking your truths. And the truth is often a bitter pill to swallow. But if they can't handle the truth that they're causing their own family member problems and make an attempt to make you feel guilty, then quite frankly, these are not people that deserve your pity. As long as you handled it maturely, don't ever feel guilty for expressing your feelings.
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(Original post by Mmayfair5)
Hi everyone,
I'm a 29 year old, married phd student and am finding my family increasingly unbearable. I grew up with just a mam, never knew my dad and had no siblings, I have some step siblings since my mam married. My grandmother and aunty were therefore involved in my upbringing, occasionally babysitting and such - but nothing else, I never lived with them or was childminded by them. We also got on well but basically since I started my undergraduate degree over 10 years ago, they have become unbearable in the way they act towards me. Often acting as though I'm their own child and telling others I'm like a daughter. They tell me off for small mistakes or openly judge my choices and opinions. They invite themselves round and try to clean or bring items they 'think' I need. This has become worse in the last 4 years, when I met my fiance, then got married and then unfortunately got thyroid cancer (this is treatable but obviously made me more introverted and left me with some long term health issues). They both tried to interfere in my wedding plans - including my grandmother booking additional caterers the day before because she felt it weird I didn't have a buffet. Since then if they come to my house they will make criticisms on my decor, husband, food, life choices etc. They regularly bring me things I didn't ask for because they think I need them. And if I pull back from spending time with them they tell my mam I'm like a stranger, or using my cancer as an excuse to not see them. Since I started my PhD they have even looked at my universities term times to see when I'm free, and if I claim I'm working they challenge me on it.
I'm getting to the point where I find the less time I spend with them, when I do finally see them their need to control and criticise is worse! I don't know what to do, I don't want to upset them but they are becoming suffocating. How can I get them to back off without upsetting them
Thanks in advance and sorry for the long message!
Why do we love our families? Is it because they are ‘good’ people, or because we’ve been taught to? Is the reason you can’t lose contact with them completely because you feel a moral obligation to respect them, or is it because you have genuine love for them based on who they are and what values they represent?

I think you should judiciously and carefully decide whether you want these people to be a part of your life. It sounds as though they’re currently a hinderance and are holding you back from achieving the life you want to lead. I don’t think you should ever be afraid to question the people closest to you. The sad truth of growing up is that we begin to notice imperfections and faults in the people we always admired.

Alternatively, you could make a very open statement to the whole family which tells them how you feel they are negatively influencing your life and then offer a proposition as to what they need to change in their behaviour if they still want to remain in contact with you.

In very simple terms, Sartre famously thought that we could never make a right or wrong decision, instead the decision would be always be ambiguous and ‘neutral’. I feel this applies well to your current situation. Every decision will have its pros and cons, the only crucial factor is that YOU need to be the one making it.

Hope this was in any way helpful
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marinade
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Taking a different tack.

You have anxiety. So saying no to anything is difficult for a large proportion of people with anxiety. How you perceive things and how your aunt and grandmother will be different. Maybe they can see you have anxiety and push emotional buttons, maybe they are clueless and care. It's hard to tell because...

It sounds like a close working class family where your aunt and grandmother don't have too many other people to deal with and care for you. How they see you may well be because of how they see your mam. Do they see university as a sort of school? Because some working class people have this issue, where even if you're doing postgrad it's seen as school and you aren't fully grown up?

Families all criticise. The older people get the more annoyed people can get about it. You could be someone who was 60 and being told total rubbish by a parent who is in their 80s.

Can you find a support group to go to where you can discuss your frustrations and the anxiety and come up with some ways of working on it? Families love making criticism of millenials.
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Mmayfair5
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(Original post by marinade)
Taking a different tack.

You have anxiety. So saying no to anything is difficult for a large proportion of people with anxiety. How you perceive things and how your aunt and grandmother will be different. Maybe they can see you have anxiety and push emotional buttons, maybe they are clueless and care. It's hard to tell because...

It sounds like a close working class family where your aunt and grandmother don't have too many other people to deal with and care for you. How they see you may well be because of how they see your mam. Do they see university as a sort of school? Because some working class people have this issue, where even if you're doing postgrad it's seen as school and you aren't fully grown up?

Families all criticise. The older people get the more annoyed people can get about it. You could be someone who was 60 and being told total rubbish by a parent who is in their 80s.

Can you find a support group to go to where you can discuss your frustrations and the anxiety and come up with some ways of working on it? Families love making criticism of millenials.
I think you've actually hit the nail on the head with that school idea, plus the fact I've been ill maybe has the same effect for them- I'm not grown up in their eyes and I need looking after. Again you are right, anxiety makes you over think everything and I'm constantly worrying I've upset someone or going over things I should of said, so the idea of saying no is hard. I guess my automatic reaction to them acting like this is to pull away because I'd rather do that than upset them bug it might not be the best option. Thanks for your input it's genuinely given me a fresh outlook on the situation!
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