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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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Due to the economy, I rent the basement level of a the home

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Due to the economy, I rent the basement level of a the home of a friend, but have rein of the kitchen and sometimes livingroom. She and her adult children have attended my extended family's christmas get togethers for the last 5 years or so. We barely see her children the rest of the year. This year she and I had intentions to co-host the gathering, but it was difficult to find a date to please nearly 30 people, with some going out of town following Chriistmas weekend, having sports commitments with children, etc. As soon as I knew this, I offered an apology that it looked like we would need to have the gathering Christimas wkend. She always goes out of town with her 2 adult children to visit her elderly mother on Christmas itself. Our gathering was changed to Monday, in which case she could have driven back to town 1/2 day earlier and joined us, which I was hoping she would. She said curtly that this also would not work for her, as she already had her plans. Some other relatives also could not make it. This has happened before and while disappointing, we know everyone is trying to do their best and will make it next time when they can. Now that we have held the event, she has written me an angry hurtful letter letting me know how painful this has been for her and her adult children. Since living with her this past year, she has launched unfounded angry outbursts at me more than once. In fact, I have been surprised and confused at how emotionally immature she has been. In her letter, she stated that she is so angry she is afraid of what she might say to me in person, thus the letter. I promptly wrote a response letting her know I had no idea she felt this way, how terribly sorry I am and that I never met to hurt her or her kids and thanking her for letting me know how she feels and asking for her forgiveness; I also repeated how grateful I am for all her help (Incidentally, I pay her standard rental rate and am not receiving anything free from her). I left the note on her counter, as I had plans to be out of town for new year's. She has now been writing me angry, hurtful emails and letting me know I have her permission to share them with my family, as she is saying that she is angry at all of us and that we have been disrespectful! She had full knowledge of this gathering prior to leaving for Christmas, so I don't know what to do further with this info. Just now she has sent another angry, sarcastic note to my entire family! Our email list includes everyone out of high school (around 20 people including my niece who lives in Australia and my daughter in laws father and elderly aunt!)! I think she has let her anger get out of control and refuses to accept my sincere apology and now is dragging the whole family thru her drama. Any advice?

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

I can imagine how frustrating and hurtful this situation must be for you. You have done everything above board and you've gone certainly farther than the extra mile, yet she has pressed on with her anger and hurtful letters.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. You are clearly an intelligent and sensitive woman and you're also levelheaded. Therefore I'm going to be open and honest about this situation.

When a spouse, for example, comes home from work and dinner isn't ready on time and gets upset, the other spouse can say, okay, he's upset about dinner. But when he yells for half an hour, the wife knows: something happened. And when he yells again three hours later after dinner's been eaten and forgotten, then she for sure knows: wow, this isn't about dinner at all! Something is wrong here.

Do you see the comparison?

When she first got upset, okay, she's upset. When you apologized so thoroughly and she responded angrily, then that was a warning sign: something is going on with her other than our weekend plans. When she doesn't let go of it but makes it the centerpiece of her relationship with you and your family, then it's clear, isn't it? Something is wrong with her.

We don't know if this is a mental health issue, a relationship issue she's having with her kids that she's taking out, or a personality problem. There is not enough information here.

But my recommendation?

You need to look on Craig's List for another place to live. You have gotten into another person's emotional difficulties and I don't know that it is healthy for you to get further involved. My sense is that it will not be good for you and that you need to exit. I say this from my experience as a psychologist and with your wellbeing in mind. I'm concerned that she's not healthy right now. So, time to move...

Okay, I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. You can continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Well, thanks for your confirmation. What do I do about the relationship itself? This person seems to have an alcohol problem, however, has been a lifelong "friend" for years. I hate to just walk away, but she is making it difficult to want to spend any energy on the relationship. Okay to simply walk away and encourage her to get the help she needs, which is more than I can offer?
First, the alcohol confirms to me the sense I had about her. There's more going on for her emotionally than you can help with. She needs help. We don't know if it's because of some new events or just that she is a little older and not able to cope as well as she did before with all the variables and unhealthy "stuff" in her life.

But, very important:

Do not make any recommendations to her about getting help. Or even that you feel she has problems. PLEASE. Avoid that. She will not take it well.

A relationship is only possible once there's a framework for it. Meaning: if you're in a safe place where she's not a threat (eviction, etc.) then there's a chance of a relationship. Until then, you're just trying to get to a place of equal footing.

Being a tenant means you're tiptoeing and that's not a relationship anyways. So, as you can see, I'm not talking about a relationship where you help her. First, that's a one way relationship. And second, she's already using you as a punching bag, so to speak. So helping her is out.

Okay, I know that was a bit open and hones, but I hope you are okay with it. I don't want it to make you angry with her or resentful more than you already are, but I also don't want you to get into trying to help someone who clearly needs professional help.

All the best, ***** *****
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