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When family members get a bit too much


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Hiya All,

I've been wanting to post about this for a few weeks, but didn't know how to put it accross without sounding like an ungrateful, heartless so-and-so, but I really need some advice now please!

Before the sah, I spoke to my Nana once a week. It's been like that since I moved down here 18 years ago, we are not a close family. Even after my Mum died, we soon returned to the same routine. Since I left the hospital, I have spoken to my Nana every single day. That's 194 telephone calls, each run for about 30-45 minutes. To begin with, this was lovely and I think she needed lots of reassurance as it's only 9 years since Mum died of sah. Nana feels somewhat responsible for both me and Mum as sah seems to run in Nana's side of the family (her youngest brother died of it in the 50's). But, these daily calls have turned into a bit of an issue for me now. She phones at the same time every day (she gets free calls after a certain time which is an hour earlier than my free calls so she always gets there first) and tells me exactly what she told me yesterday and the day before. We ran out of things to talk about months and months ago. I keep telling myself that I must treasure these calls, she's 83 and who knows how many more calls there will be. All she wants to do is slag off other family members, she has a circuit that she follows religiously for each call, starting with my Mum's cousin, going through a choice few others and ending with my sister-in-law. It's all very negative and judgemental and derogatory and it wears me out. I find it depressing and frustrating.

If I'm not home when she calls, she phones my friend who lives in the same street as me to check if my lights are on. My friend will call my mobile to see if I'm ok. I realise that this is actually a good thing, if there was something wrong, people would notice. I sound ungrateful, I knew I would! What can I do? I think she needs these calls and she is alone, my Grandad died 11 weeks before my mum who was an only child. My Nana has had a really hard time of it. Am I being really selfish? I am aren't I!

I might add that Nana is not a frail old lady, she still dyes her hair jet black and wear a full face of make-up every day. She also walks up to random strangers and tells them that 'she owns 128 jumpers'. People look at her like she's nuts. She has always been like this for as long as I can remember, so it's not just old age. She also thinks it's ok to openly use the 'N' word for black people and declares every overweight person to be a 'heffer'. Maybe a lot of it is her generation, she grew up in the 30's and certain words were ok then that aren't now.

What can I do? I can't ask her not to call so often, like I said I thinks she needs them. Does anyone have any ideas?

Dawn x

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Can you filter stuff back to her via another family member?

My choice would be to say you find it really tiring but pass the blame onto your GP or counsellor who tells you you need to keep contact to a minimum & spending that long on the phone is having adverse effects. If this could be filtered down to her by a reliable family member who could also add that you haven't wanted to tell her cos you are aware how much she cares for you that might shift the blame a bit more too.

I know exactly what you mean though, I have a large family but when i went in to have my op I only told close family (brothers) & asked them not to tell the more claustraphobic members of the family. I have one aunt who persists in thinking of me as a little girl still & she told when my son was born how happy my Mum would have been (we lost her before we got pregnant) in a Christmas card (like I didn't miss my Mum enough already & mourn my sons Grandma) so I knew she would create a big fuss & she was too far away to be any practical help. As it was my hubby spent hours on the phone each night to my brother & friends updating them without her histrionics!!

I eventually told the rest of the family in a Christmas letter which basically said I'd been very ill but was now better. I then recieved a 7 page letter off her demanding why we hadn't told her at the time. Just what I was hoping to avoid so I do understand where you are coming from.

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Hi Dawn,

I've heard similar from quite a few other SAH'ers since starting the site :wink:. I think that you're going to have to tell her that you can only manage calls that are about 10 - 15 minutes max in duration and then try to cut down the frequency of them, as in every other day, then hopefully a little less.... do it gently, as I can understand where your Nana is coming from and where your coming from too.

I used to specify a better time of day to call me ... mornings were a complete "no no" as were evenings, so most people would call me in the afternoon. Sometimes you have to be blunt if people don't get the message .... or use an excuse such as ... there's somebody ringing the bell, you've got an appointment or a friend is coming around for coffee etc. Just reassure her that you're coping okay and are well etc. Good luck! xx

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Oh dear, that is a tricky one Dawn.

I admire her spirit & her keeping her hair coloured & full make up on - good for her!!! Maybe I should take heed.......I cancelled my hair appointment today, my head is just too sore this week for all that pulling & tugging of my hair, noisy dryers, chatter etc - so the dodgy roots are staying till Monday when I'll try again.....

It is great that she cares so much & wants to make sure you're ok but, yes, that would drive me crazy too. I actually can't stand my phone ringing now, it annoys me. I often switch it off for days on end (soooo anti social I know). Rather than hurt her feelings, maybe you could be going swimming or attending a relaxation class at the time she rings, explaining to her that perhaps, you could ring her on a couple of arranged nights a week or let her know which nights you will be 'free'. I know it's horrible to lie but perhaps better than hurting her? Also, you could explain this to your friend so that she is still keeping an eye out if you can't be contacted but understands that you just need a bit of peace from this daily drain.

I still, even nearly 4 years later, hate it when someone rings & I don't answer because I was having a nap and the person then worries & keeps ringing & then tries ringing & texting my mobile too. We are so lucky to have people who care but sometimes you just want everyone to back off a little bit and leave a message that you can respond to when you are up to it.

Michelle xx

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Thanks ladies, there are some really good ideas there.

I've just gotten off the phone from Nana and this was the first time ever that the call has been only 10 minutes, maybe there's something in the idea of a 'universal consciousness' after all! She could hear that I'd just sat down to my dinner, not cos I was chomping in her ear (yuk!) but because she could hear the cutlery going. She still managed to slag of my cousin for being 'way too chunky and having thunder thighs' :shock:. Goodness, how Linda would feel if she knew.

I actually went out and bought a new phone with an answering machine so that she could leave me a message, but she does that and waits 20 minutes and calls me back again :devil:

I can hear myself moaning about Nana and I'm thinking that I sound just like her :oops:

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Dawn

You have to put yourself first...I knew I couldn't take hassle and told family that hospital said I cannot take rows or

people being upset as it effects me..... White lie Surgeon said you need to remain calm lol

It has worked apart from 1 sister..not too bad ..lol.....put on Answer phone Dawn??? lol

Keep your head peaceful

Love

WinB143 xx

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Hi Dawn

Are you able to record your own message on your answer machine? I had to have my husband record a daily message for the first couple of months, as I was unable to cope with phone calls. He used to say: Hi, (he'd say the day and date) if you are calling to speak to to Liz, sorry but she's resting at the moment and unable to take your call. Please leave a message if you like and thank you for your concern. He changed the day and date each day, so they new it wasn't an old message. If a call back was needed then he would do that when he came home.

I have such a large family that I would have been driven crazy if I had to speak to them all. I wouldn't even take calls from my brothers and sisters, I just couldn't cope. Even now after 3 years I still get tired after a phone call because i have to concentrate so much. They are also now so used to me ignoring the phone at times and they will always leave a message saying, just calling to hear how you are, no need to call me back! Even at work, I prefer to email rather than make a phone call. I'm fine with taking messages but conversations leave me tired.

I hope you find a solution that works for you.

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I was exactley the same,.....The answerphone was a lifesaver...sounds bad but I have 10 brothers and sisters and my head

could not take it all...Love them all but head hurt in early days....

My sister in law was offish to me other week...she went like this WHY ON EARTH DO YOU NEED TO WASH PLATES BEFORE PUTTING THEM IN D/WASHER....

she was very loud and agitated....I just said because it is the way I do it !

Really I wanted to say mind ya own business but held my cool..swore under my breath...smiling and calling her swear words

in my mind...lol...because I had SAH it does not give her the right to talk to me as she wants....grrrr lol... answer phone for her.

Rant over

Love to all

WinB143 xx

Edited by Winb143
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  • 4 weeks later...

A wee update:

I've put several of your suggestions to use, including changing the answering phone message. The lenghty phone calls continued. Then last weekend, Nana called on a bad day. After about 40 minutes or so, she said 'you must be sick of the sound of my voice'. So, I finally grew a pair and said 'no Nana, I love talking to you, but I can't cope with these really long phone calls, 20 minutes would suit me better.' And do you know what? Since then, the longest call I've had was 25 minutes, YAY!!!

So thank you everyone for your input and for helping me get the guts to finally say something!

Dawn x

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Hi Dawn

You're onto something with the dinner time call where nana may have heard the clattering of cutlery. I have some good friends that like to chat a lot, but I never wanted to be rude in any way because they are good friends. I found that when I starting wondering about the house doing little one handed chores, since my other hand was holding the portable phone, the caller always sensed that she or he had "lost me" or my attention. The calls were often shortened.

Tough one for you though. I also make it a habit never to talk negatively about anyone, nor do I listen to gossip. Through this I've pared down friendships and picked up valuable new ones. ...and it's about to get a whole lot better post SAH.

Sue

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I would just have to lie to Nana. I cannot be on the phone or near people that are like that. Not that there is not any difference between our families! But I think although she means welll jsut have to tell her holdin ghte phone that long makes your headache. I personally have numb arms and hands when talking on phone so you can use that one if you like. :)

I have a relative that is doing radition right now and I cannot even come up with anything to say at all I am so drained. I need some help but in the opposite way! Also I realized yesterday I am no fun, I can't listen to music, stand noise and nonsence. WHen I am nana age I will be a hoot. LOL

BIG HUG! mary

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