My mother and my sister get into these huge fights, and then both call me to complain about each other. I hate being stuck in the middle. In the course of being supportive, I inevitably end up saying something I shouldn’t. Like the other day, I was talking to my sister, she was complaining about my mother saying something condescending about her job, I let it spill that our mom thought she never should have gone to law school in the first place, and then all hell broke loose. Now my mom is mad at me for betraying her confidence, my sister is mad at my mom for not supporting her, and I feel terrible.
If you can do a better job of keeping your trap shut, this is a pretty good position to be in. They’re mad at each other, which means neither is mad at you, which is always good. Plus, you can learn some valuable information that might help you later, should blackmail or extortion be necessary.
Either they’re using you as a pawn in their silly arguments, by telling you things they know you’ll repeat, (like your mom telling you she thinks your sister’s career choice is a poor one? I think she just didn’t have the guts to tell your sister herself and knew you’d do it for her) or they’re just blowing off steam. In either case, just listen. No response. No, “Oh my God, she’s such a bitch, remember that one time when I was eight and she grounded me for spitting in her coffee?” and no “I know, she is a terrible lawyer. Did you know her law school is suing her for ruining their reputation?”
Just listen. No more talking.
I have a family member with whom I like keeping in touch by email; we used to only speak on the phone occasionally, so it’s nice to hear from her more often. The problem is that she sends me about 10 forwarded messages, chain letters, prayers, jokes, and news items a day. Often the news items and religious forwards are directly in conflict with my personal beliefs, and she knows this, but doesn’t seem to care. Can I tell her to stop, and risk hurting her feelings, or should I just keep being annoyed in private and deleting them?
You can’t say anything. She sounds old. Older people like to do stuff like that and then feel bewildered and angry when you tell them to knock it off.
I seriously don’t understand why a person who loves you would burden you with an email that says, “If you don’t forward this immediately to 30 people, you’re going to have bad luck all week, horrible sex for 15 years, get really fat, and probably get hit by a bus within the next five to seven minutes.” You’d think your loved one would take one for the team, get hit by the bus, and allow you to live your life.
If you need some sort of personal satisfaction to offset the annoyance of constantly deleting forwards from Don’t Save the Whales! and Sarah Palin For President in 2012, just sign your email buddy up for a bunch of mailing lists. (Is that illegal? If it is, I take it back. But if it isn’t, do it…it’s totally funny.) Get her on the email list for Howard Dean, Say No to Proposition 8, PETA, Dr. Ruth’s newsletter, and the Huffington Post. Her head will explode.