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Question
Posted by: Betz | 2020/01/08

Please help

Hi Doc My relative and I are in our late 40's. She divorced, highly successful in her career, got the mansion, fancy car, money and was living her best life, me on the other hand not on a good financial footing, but living my independent life. In 2016 she found out she got cancer and she immediately reached out to me to help her, even thou she has a sister & all her rich friends. I did my best to help her through this ordeal. Went into remission in Sept '17. The guy she was or is dating was cheating on her & only using her for her money. The relationship ended in Jan'17, but I found out in Nov '19, they still on & off, she is obsessed with this man, every time he hurts her she goes into deep depression & I have to help her thru, she does not want to let go of him. Due to this man rejecting her she becomes angry and bitter to the rest of the family. But when things are good with him, then she is good with the rest of the family and friends, goes out and has a blast with them and then she does not need me and I am totally fine with it. There are times she is rude, arrogant, ignores my calls or messages and does not contact me for weeks, but when things go bad then she calls me and starts crying & tells me I am the only person she likes and she is so grateful for me being there for her..blah blah blah and expects me to be there to support her. In Dec '19, found out cancer is back. I said I will be there for her, but I am getting tired and emotionally drained out, coz for 3 yrs now when things are good, I am not needed, its her immediate family and her friends that are important, and when things go wrong then i must be at her beck and call. She makes me feel like I am her puppet and I must just be there when she is all alone and depressed. So I have been ignoring her calls and msgs since Monday and she sent nasty messages and blocks me. What should I do. I am dealing with my own personal issues and I deal with it on my own as I am a very private person and then I have to deal with her issues, she feels that I got no problems in the world or that mine issues don't matter. I feel she is self-centered and feel that bcoz of her status and money she is above everyone else. Please advise

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink
- 2020/01/13

Hi Betz
It's good to offer emotional support to friends and relatives in straight-forward situations.  But where the situation is emotionally complicated, insist that they see a properly trained psychologist for counselling.  If they had appendicitis, you'd similarly get them to see the appropriate specialist,  rather than getting out your steak knife and trying a little sincere surgery.
Similarly, I think it's really important to provide support that enables them to get and follow proper expert advice, not support that is unconditional and enables them to continue to be foolish and to continue to inflict very avoidable suffering on themselves.
The aim needs to be to encourage them to solve their problems, not to make a lifelong career out of them.  I think of someone I know who demands "support" by which she means absolute agreement, as a sole criterion of friendship, who insists that people must fly to her side whenever she feels upset, or she accuses them of  "abandoning" her. 
She has been seeing a counsellor for 8 years with no noticeable benefits, except that this counsellor soothes her and agrees with all her most self-damaging beliefs, does not want her to change, and uses discredited methods to justify her profound self-pity and confirm that she need never change.
It sounds as though you are responding realistically and sensibly to someone who has been making unfair demands on you and expects to continue to do so, in ways that are bad for you and bad for her.  You do not need to accept that invitation.
You can tell her that you understand her situation must he most upsetting for her but that it is complex and way beyond your ability to be useful. And so you strongly advise her to get proper professional assistance from a qualified psychologist.  You can mention that you have your own important problems to deal with, as you need to deal with them on your own and that you don't want to burden her with these. Wish her well,  and  say you're confident that if she follows the advice of a real expert, she should begin to gain control of these situations that are troubling her.

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