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GammaRayBob
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11 Apr 2022, 3:50 am

For those who don't know, this week is the Jewish holiday of Passover, where Jews typically have two nights of commemorative dinners called seders. As a Jewish person, this used to mean I would normally go home for the holidays to my parents' place, or less frequently my sister's family (with my parents as well). Because of Covid, however, these last couple years meant I was by myself for the seders. But this year, the whole family was invited to my sister's place. Unfortunately this also means my other sister will be there, whom I don't get along with at all and who acts antagonisticlly towards me (and frequently the rest of my family) by way of dirty looks, condescending demeanor, guilt tripping for things that are a non-issue, flat out yelling at me and others, and generally making me feel very uncomfortable. She's just not very pleasant to be around but everyone puts up with it. This normally wouldn't be an issue but after living abroad for several years, she has come back to live with my parents and is now invited to everything they are. Everyone says I should just try to ignore her and not interact (or even notice her at all) but I find it extremely difficult. I find her so toxic that I actually vowed a while back to never interact with her again or attend anything she would be at.

As such, I told my sister I wasn't going, but there's other reasons as well. I get this feeling that as an autistic person, my family doesn't see me as an equal and considers me more of an "expendable" family member, less important. One of the ways they do this is to not wait for me when I'm held up and start things like dinners without me, explaining that they didn't feel like waiting because they were in a rush to get started. Sometimes this may be when I'm only a few minutes late and they always say it's no big deal, they figured I could just start by myself. Thing is they tend not to do this for other family members and certainly guests, where they will just wait indefinitely because it's "not right or respectful" to start without someone who was invited (to whit, they once waited around 40 minutes or so for my aunt for dinner).

Whenever I point out these kinds of slights to anyone (usually my mother), she'll say I'm imagining things and that I'm projecting how I feel about myself onto other people and that no one would ever treat me differently because they don't see me that way. When I give specific examples of how that's not the case, she'll say something like "well how do you expect people to treat you when you don't act like everyone else?" In short, it feels like I'm being gaslighted, which I've heard is not exactly uncommon for people on the spectrum.

Anyway, my sister called me up the other day and reinforced that she really wanted me to come but I'm pretty sure it was only due to me griping about the situation to my mother and how inconvenient it was. A part of me still wants to go however, mostly because, ideally, I don't like being cut off from the family and also because I really don't want to spend another Passover alone unless absolutely necessary. However, taking all these things into consideration, a large part of me would actually prefer to stay home.

Has anyone here experienced the above scenario or something similar and how did you go about resolving it?



blazingstar
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11 Apr 2022, 4:41 am

In my experience, other people will never understand, or admit to understanding, your point of view, regardless of how well it is explained. I’ve been around this particular block many, many times.

At some point I stopped trying to explain.

My family is/was pretty toxic so disengaging from them became the only rational thing to do, to save myself.

But if you like your family and want to spend time with them, you will have to learn how to ignore those slights and the irritating sister. This is extremely difficult and will take a lot of valuable energy. But it is a good skill to learn, if you are so inclined to this type of challenge.


_________________
The cry of the lonely loon, coyotes hollering at the moon,
Wind rustling through the trees, that's the Canadian breeze.
Smoke rising from the fire up to the trees in stately spire
reach for the sky in the evening glow, Sun goes down no north winds blow.

My heart has but one home, from which I'll never roam,
Land of true happiness, Canadian wilderness.
-- Voyageurs Song


timf
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11 Apr 2022, 6:58 am

People who act out of control often get that way because no one ever set boundaries for them.

You may find it possible to get her to back off a little if you make use of emotional statements (as opposed to logical ones).

For example, when attacked you do not respond with logic about what has been said, but rather with a question like, "Why do you feel the need to attack me".



shortfatbalduglyman
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11 Apr 2022, 12:14 pm

blazingstar wrote:
In my experience, other people will never understand, or admit to understanding, your point of view, regardless of how well it is explained. I’ve been around this particular block many, many times.

At some point I stopped trying to explain.

My family is/was pretty toxic so disengaging from them became the only rational thing to do, to save myself.

But if you like your family and want to spend time with them, you will have to learn how to ignore those slights and the irritating sister. This is extremely difficult and will take a lot of valuable energy. But it is a good skill to learn, if you are so inclined to this type of challenge.

___________________________


Sometimes someone acts like I don't understand them or tells me or asks me that I don't understand them, even when I do understand them. They don't understand me

Sometimes they assume or think that they understand me, and they don't

Sometimes they do understand your point of view but they act like you have to explain it to them

Sometimes they understand but they don't care

Especially since autistics in the minority

They act like they overpowered you because they outnumbered you


________________________

My old man and old woman dropped dead a long time ago, so I don't have to deal with that anymore



HiccupHaddock
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12 Apr 2022, 5:36 am

It sounds like your sister is a very difficult person for anyone to get along with.

If it was me, I would try to avoid interacting with her, and if she said provocative or critical things to me, just say bland things like 'Hmmm' and then say 'excuse me' and leave the room for a few minutes, and when you return, try to keep away from her. If all else fails and she gets too much, you could excuse yourself and go for a walk around the neighbourhood to get some peace.

I'm sure your Mum didn't mean to upset you when they started the meal without you, that kind of thing happens when Mums are trying to please loads of people at once, and have lots of things to think of like preparing food, preparing the table, people's allergies and preferences, etc.

Good luck!



ToughDiamond
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13 Apr 2022, 3:15 pm

I try to avoid being in any group that treats me like I'm second-class. Why would I want to go to a social gathering if I wasn't likely to enjoy it? If the alternative is to be alone, well that's not great either but I prefer it to that kind of company. At least it opens up the chance of finding company that treats me better, or of finding something interesting or useful to do on my own.

The only other thing that makes me reluctant to opt out is a concern about offending the group in a way that might backfire on me later. I've always found that a tricky problem because people don't often tell me clearly that if I don't attend this or that gathering then they'll hold it against me, so I'm left to guess whether or not I'm taking a risk by staying away.

Personally I don't much relate to rituals, though I know a lot of people feel terrible if they don't observe them.

I suppose one alternative for you would be to return your sister's "compliments" - yell back at her and behave towards her as aggressively as she behaves towards you, loudly and bluntly highlighting her bad manners. Eventually, if you keep standing up to her, she might back off. It's not nice to fight people of course, but I'd rather do that than just sit there and take abuse. And it does seem to me that she deserves a good verbal slap for her bullying.