Monday, January 27, 2014

Sometimes All I've Got Left to Give Is Love...

I have a niece (I've written about her before) who has been a part of my heart since the day she was born a little over 31 years ago.  She was born to my addicted sister when she was 17 which means I was a mere 21.  For the last 31 years I have loved that child with every fiber of my being and given her all that I could to make her life as normal as possible.

While she was growing up, we had her every weekend and most of the summer.  We funded and cheered her ice skating "career".  We were Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny.  We made sure she had clothes and books for school.  But, most important of all, we gave her a safe place to land.  We gave her "home".

Or so I thought...

You see, my niece has the "crazy gene", as my nephew calls it.  She has the personality traits that make her behave like my mother and sister.  Everything must always be about her.  She's a compulsive liar.  When she talks about herself she always has the best job, is the most important person in her neighborhood, is a better, mother, churchgoer, worker, student than anyone else.  Everything in her life must involve drama or it doesn't hold value for her.  She's sneaky and manipulative and will stop at nothing to get what she wants.

The hubs has been telling me about her since she was five years old but I, like most mothers, would hear none of it.  I just kept trying to be a better mother to her hoping that love would win out over genetics.

I was wrong.

The older she gets and the older I get, I realize that I love the way I love.  I love unconditionally.  I don't always love equally (I try) but I love fully and with my entire being.  I don't define my love with material things but I try to fullfill wishes and indulge rather than spoil.  I respect boundaries but will step in if asked.  I listen with my heart and my head and, if asked, will give advice (and sometimes when I'm not asked...d'oh!)  No matter what, I am always ready with a warm hug and a kind word.  However, if your ass needs kicking then I'll do that too.  I'm the's what I do.

Sadly, it's never enough for my niece.  No matter what I do, she needs more and even that is not enough.  I recently told her that I was not able to love her any other way.  She's convinced that I love "my" kids, or my stepdaughter or my nephew more than I love her.  I don't do enough, call enough, send enough money, give enough presents, etc., etc., etc.

All I've got left to give now is love.  My love, my way.  If that's not enough for her, then so be it.  I'm out of options.  Life is short and quite frankly, I'm tired.

So I love her for who she is and I no longer take responsibility for her happiness.  I used to obesses that she was angry with me or upset or bad talking me but now?  Not so much.  I am who I am and she is who she is and it's not my fault.  I didn't cause it.  I can't control it.  And it's taken 31 years but I finally know I can cure it.

But I can love it.



  1. It's so hard to love someone like that. At the end of the day, I had to do the same as you - detach my emotions and love from a safe emotional distance. I believe that as life takes its toll, these people will eventually meet the circumstances which unravel all their lies and selfishness. In the meantime, we love. xx

  2. Awwww Sherry, we really are kindred spirits. Bless your heart. Keep loving her with boundaries and unconditionally.

    1. The only way I know how to love is unconditionally...the boundaries? I'm learning.

  3. We care about them, not care for them, Sherry. You have clearly made your boundaries, and made them known. There is no right, nor wrong. Just is. Love comes from this, and in my book, that is what counts. This isn't a pissing contest or a drama club. One human to another, family member to another...pure love. That is all we can do. If that isn't what she expects...well, so be it.

    You're in a wonderful place with this, Sherry. I really admire your courage in this and your decision to make that line in the sand. You love as you love. She receives and she receives...and we can't do anything to change how they receive.


  4. Terrific post. Thank You.

    Scarily much of your description of your niece sounds like me. Well the old me, the drinker. For years I'd have to impress you that I was the best thing you could find in whatever domain I thought you wanted me to be the best - best husband, Dad, worker, volunteer etc. etc. The only thing I was actually remotely the best at was bullshitting those that listened to this nonsense!

    Today I'm so relieved I don't have to live that lie, having to remember exactly what it is I'm saying I'm the best at and why etc. I just do and let others judge.

    For example - I used to ask my wife, often, "Do you love me?" - I needed to hear her validation against my angst that maybe she didn't. How do you reply to that? "Not just at the moment love, because you are two hours late, clearly drunk again and just picked our son up in a car where you've risked his, yours and other peoples lives". No she always would mutter "Yes" or "You know I do"... give away for "Not at the moment..."

    I don't ask now - she either loves me or doesn't. I work hard to try and be a better husband etc. and I hope through that the love she may have with me remains but I cannot demand it or question it - it either is or isn't. I have to accept it. Oh yes - I do make a point of telling her that I do love her

    1. It's funny. I used to ask Bill that all the I can't remember the last time I asked him that.


  5. So sorry to hear this story. Of course I can't diagnose from afar, but it sounds awfully like Narcissistic Personality Disorder to me. Unfortunately my mother suffers from this and I am an "expert" in seeing it in others. Overly sensitive to it you may say. If this is the case, the normal rules of love don't apply and as you have discovered in the end you need to protect yourself in whichever way is best for you. So so sad to have to deal with this sort of person. My mother came close to destroying me, but luckily I saw through it all just in time. All best.

    1. I am all too familiar with NPD as my mother had it and I'm sure that's the root of my sister's issues too. Not being a psychologist however, I'm not positive so I avoided saying it...but I was sure thinking it.

      Have you ever ready "Will I Ever Be Good Enough?" by Dr. Karyl McBride? That's the book that freed me from the guilt I carried about my mom (she had already passed away when I read it). I recommend it highly.

      Thanks for the comment Joy.

  6. Oh wow I missed this post.. been a bit out of the loop what with moving and stuff. Sounds tough Sherry.. a bit like my sister who is back in a psych hospital trying to get her meds right so she can live a normal life.. still terribly depressed and blaming my mother for everything. it's so tough. you are an inspiration… some people are hard to love but loving them regardless helps makes us the best people we can be. xxxx


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