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I am an unmarried 22 year old girl in college. I have a mother, father and brother who is also doing his masters in college. We live in India and all stay together in a flat. I'm the youngest in my family and often observe a lot of things. My mom's mom has 2 daughters. My aunt is in the US and is very successful and wealthy as she married a rich person. She is also highly narcissistic, selfish and her behaviour is often (strong word to say but) cruel. My grandma is a greedy person and loves money. She hates my mom and speaks cruel things about her. My mom is a very emotional, loving, caring and forgiving individual. Grandma and Aunty together bully my mother. They also hate us, but they don't show that directly.

After my granddad passed on, Aunty dumped Grandma at our place, as she did not want to take any responsibility. We accepted it quietly. My grandma always emotionally blackmails my mom (because she knows she is emotional) into doing things for her which are impossible to do during COVID. She says a lot of hurtful things and makes a very big scene by yelling, screaming and crying. Everyone in the apartment hears this and is very insulting. She has no regard for us children that we have exams and need to study.

Recently, while I was getting a glass of water at 3AM, I found Grandma and Aunty plotting plans for breaking relationships of me and my brother and with my mother, saying horrible untrue things about my father (in whose house she lives and eats), and talking very very nasty things about every single thing of our home. Aunty tells her exactly what and how to say and do. What hurts me the most is seeing all these extreme negative and hateful feelings when we have been nothing but good and always put her in such a good place. We all work hard to keep her comfortable and be nice to her despite the horrible things. Aunty has always been jealous and vindictive towards us, even though she stayed at our home and ate our food and we kept her very nicely. She now dictates to Grandma how to manipulate and hurt us.

I told my mom about this and she cried for hours (we knew they hated us but we never knew that they are actively plotting like this behind our backs). A few days have passed but I am still sad, hurt, depressed and in such disbelief. I don't know what to do and feel helpless. If we say anything, Grandma cries and yells and denies everything. It seems impossible to me. How can we deal with such a painful situation?

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  • Maybe cultural and other aspects affect the answer, situations would be different for different places like some place in Asia or US, it would be better to include that
    – Arjun
    Sep 23 '20 at 6:56
  • @BabaYaga thanks for your reply. I had added location in the answer.
    – dagwood
    Sep 23 '20 at 10:09
  • Hi dagwood, welcome to IPS! I'm sorry to hear about your situation, it sounds very difficult especially when it's someone living with you :( Unfortunately this site requires questions to have a particular goal (the help center explains more) - since there are so many possible ways to deal with a given problem, we need you to narrow it down to something specific (an example might be, how to stop your grandma from making a scene). I'm not sure what would be a realistic goal for you, could you edit with that?
    – Em C
    Sep 24 '20 at 22:29
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This is a very difficult situation. I live in a Western European country, and some of my suggestions might not fit into your culture, but I will try:

First of all, you, your brother and your parents have to stick together and to follow the same strategy. You write that you told your mother about what overheard at night, but did you also tell your father? I think he also has to be informed what is going on here, and so has your brother. Form an alliance against your grandma and aunty.

A good friend of mine, who is also a psychotherapist, once told me that in order to achieve something, you have to use the language your dialogue partner understands. It seems to me that the only language your grandma and auntie understand is the language of aggression and humiliation. So, start to speak this language, too. Stop being nice to her, as this does not help.

It may sound cruel to you, but you have to set up boundaries. You are a family of four, and your grandma is one single person. Every member of your family has to show grandma that she is only a visitor who has to obey to the family rules, not vice versa. If she shouts, let her shout. If she shouts for a long time, tell her that she has a nervous breakdown and put her to hospital. She will stop then, believe me. Limit her contacts to dear auntie, e.g. make sure she cannot do phone calls at night.

I know that all this sounds very cruel, but what you tell about grandma and auntie is much more cruel. You have to defend yourself as a family. And if your grandma finds out that living with you is not so comfortable any more, she will find another place to live. If auntie is so rich, she surely can take care of her old mother, too.

Good luck!

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