Author Topic: How do you deal with family members who want to manipulate you with money?  (Read 255 times)

erniec

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there it is right there.  I've been having some issues come up for me between me and my mom.  I frankly resent how she plays both sides of the fence between me and my sister, with whom I am maintain a relationship similar to that of South and North Korea (we aren't actively bombing each other at the moment, but we're still at war), trying to "keep the peace" and maintain a good relationship with both of us.  I understand this behavior on some level, but on many others I don't and Im finding it more and more disrespectful as it's meant her choice not to do anything about my sister's shabby behaviour towards me tacitly allowed my sister and father to act abusively towards me in the past and present.  My sister has never been able to say anything nice about me - I've come to accept she's just not capable of it for whatever reason, always criticizing, always put downs over a wide variety of things, for as long as I can remember.  She's also manipulative as hell, and as I've said elsewhere, is married to a man that is just like her own mother - a complete doormat.  My mom just lets her walk all over her.  I tell her she is letting her use her and she always angrily agrees with me but always has some bs reason why she can't or won't do anything about it....thats what I mean when I say "playing both sides of the fence" - she's telling me what she thinks I want to hear because she's too gutless to respond the way of a person with integrity (put her daughter in her place and be a goddamn parent for once in her life) and and because she does this with me I don't doubt for a second she's telling my sister whatever she wants to hear about me (I'm hurting for money, I'm this, I'm that, whatever) .  She's always acted this way, and since I've allowed myself to be aware its going on, I'm getting less and less tolerant of her cowardly routine. 

The last several months she's been doing my sisters bidding pretty steady running all her errands, kissing her rear end on everything, and has virtually nothing to do with me or my child....all while telling me everything she's doing for my sister and her kids.  It's occurred to me this kind of behavior has been going on for quite some time.  My family is so messed up like this I didn't even think for decades there was anything wrong with this kind of behavior.  She's never really had much to do with my child or me for that matter, and its all relating to both of us superficially, superficial interest.  She'll jump for my sister but never really puts in any effort for me or my daughter.  If there is any attention, it's always related to money.  She gives her money like crazy, but make zero effort to spend time with her, much like with me.  But she will jump backwards over a barbed wire fence to serve my sister and her kids, and then tell me about everything she did for them,  always, that's always the way its been. 

I think maybe she knows now I've figured the game out and seen that her concern for me and my child is pretty superficial and I've been keeping my distance.  Whenever she texts, it's always about herself, never any questions about my life, so I ask one question of her, and then don't respond if there's no effort to engage me about my life, and usually whatever she is talking about it just dies on the vine. 

This is when the cheques surface.  I didn't respond to several of her texts last week because I didnt want to as it looked like she was fishing for attention,  I had not spoken to her in over a week, again, because I didn't want to, and mysteriously, for no apparent reason, I get a cheque for $200 in the mail "for all that you do, hearts and kisses, love mom".  What a load of bullshit.  She just wants attention and needs supply off me, and seems to be trying to manipulate me into having contact with her by waving a cheque in front of me.  Give him money, he'll pay attention to you then, all he cares about his money....which is just not true.  Its just so disingenuous it makes me mad - but I still cashed it, as well, I need the $$.

What the hell do you do in situations like this?  I know I'm allowing it to continue by cashing the cheque but...she knows I'm still hurting financially so she seems to be taking advantage of it.  And also in my family tree - not just my immediate family, but parents siblings as well - they give money as that's their way of "showing you they care", which I've come to see is their way of showing you they don't care at all and are just masking their real feelings.  What should I do?  How should I handle this? 

What I'm angry the most about is how little she seems to think of me by acting this way.  Manipulation is a real trigger for me, as with my family I'm surrounded by some real world class dbag manipulators, and only within the last several years have seen it for what it is - abusive and demonstrative of how little these people think of me.  My family is just so virulently opposed to being honest in their relationships with others, everything is subterfuge and subtext, I'm becoming more and more intolerant about it to the point where I have been thinking about ripping into her about it. 

Is she taunting me or trying to make me feel jealous when she tells me all these stories about everything she does for my sister?  Is she trying to throw it in my face, like, look what I do for her, especially when I'm not crossing the street for you?  Is this her way of saying, I really in my heart of hearts don't give a shit about you? 

Has anything like this happened to anyone else? What have you done?  How did it shake out? 

Thanks!

Twoapenny

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Hi Ernie, welcome back :)

Your mum sounds very much like my mum.  She has always played different people off against each other, she will go out of her way to say or do something she knows is hurtful but then act hurt if you bring it up.  She left myself and my sister at the mercy of our step-dad and has never had the courage to do anything to anyone's face but will create a multitude of situations behind people's backs and will often convince people someone else did it.  She controls through money and enjoys people being financially dependent on her.

The only way, in my opinion, to stop this, is to refuse the money.  People who manipulate, abuse, ridicule, lie, whatever their behaviour is, will carry on doing it regardless, because it's how they've learnt to get through life.  If you want to get off the crazy family merry go round, you have to start saying no to the crazy behaviour.  It's a funny thing because it's literally that simple, but it's also very hard to do.  But by cashing that cheque, you are handing over your power to her.  You're saying, you're right, I'm worthless.  You don't need to spend time with me or my child, you should spend all your time with my sister and encourage her to be unpleasant.  I don't deserve respect, or politeness, or your time, healthy love, good boundaries.  None of that is for me.  I honestly believe that that sort of subtext is what rattles around our bodies and our minds in situations like this and every time you take affirmative action (by cashing the cheque, for example) those negative (and untrue) messages do another circuit and settle a bit deeper inside you.

I think your distancing tactic with the text messages and phone contact is a good first step.  Next time a cheque arrives, tear it up and send a polite text - "thanks for the cheque, mum, but I'm doing okay financially and I don't need the money.  You use it for something nice for yourself".  You need to start changing the messages in your brain and you do that (in my opinion) by changing your behaviour.  The subtext of refusing the money is something along the lines of "I'm an adult.  I work hard, I'm good at what I do, I have principles and I stick by them.  I take care of myself and my family.  I enjoy a healthy relationship with myself.  I'm moving on to bigger and better things".  It's all about subtle shifts, in my opinion; you change a response that's been practised without thinking for many years and you do something different, and then the ripples start to move in a different direction :)

The first thing I did with my mum when I wanted to stop the madness altogether was to start refusing to accept her money.  It was like taking away her magic wand.  She became powerless very quickly without it.  Only recently she sent my son quite a large cheque for his birthday.  He has learning difficulties, so I manage his money for him (and she has accused me of mismanaging it in the past).  I tore up the cheque and wrote her a nice letter thanking her for the money, but pointing out that accepting it would mean putting myself at risk of being falsely accused again so I'd put it in the bin.  Could we have done with the money?  Absolutely; I'm on a low income and what she sent him would have paid for a holiday, some therapy for him, even a small car.  Is the feeling of being independent, knowing I'm a good mum and can provide well for my son, knowing that she doesn't have any power over me and she can't tie me to her in any way shape or form worth a million times more than the sum she sent me?  Absolutely :)

erniec

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thanks Twoapenny, I appreciate the response.  It is very hard like you say.