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I know what I want to do about my revolting sister-in-law, but I donít want to lose my brotherís friendship if I can help it. While Iím low and vulnerable, sheís been taunting me for fun, focusing on problems with the only man who ever loved me. He could actually be dying as she spoke, and Iíve been stressed out!

Now Iíve retired one of the things that has been making me consciously happy is the Absence of Difficult People! I seem to have left them all in the past, and be surrounded only by people I can like. Or at least, thatís what I thought! Actually, when Iím out in the hills in company, there is a certain rough element that jibes at people, but Iím always high-spirited, hence resilient. I can give them a good lively answer, bounce away unscathed on my little motorbike and find better company.

At the moment it is different, because I had an operation almost three months ago, since when I have been housebound with very few outings and very few visitors. The potential for loneliness, boredom and depression is obvious, so I work, work, work on myself to stay happy, but the toughest aspect is my extreme worries about my boyfriend (or ex-boyfriend!) lying ill in hospital for three months at the age of 82. For me to be more subdued than usual seems inevitable.

Last week I thought my best friend was trying to wind me up, and realised that, at the moment, that treatment is completely inappropriate, because I cannot be the same high-spirited person who laughs it off in the hills. Also, with so little company it matters to me that every human contact is good. While Iím work, work, working on myself to stay cheerful, and have so little company, there seems no room for anything but good conversation.

M sister-in-law, who was difficult in the past, has been quite reasonable to me since my mother died nearly five years ago. Last weekend while I was trying to handle a disappointment, I rang my brother. She answered the phone because he is working abroad. In no time at all something that began as a mild difference of opinion went downhill. I realised this female was taunting me for amusement, so I tried to appeal to her to stop. So she saw me as a target and dug the knife in! As we spoke, the only boyfriend Iíve ever had could have been dying, and she used that situation to bait me! Of course she upset me and she was laughing!

This is not something I can Ďjust ignore.í How [B]*low*[/B] can you sink? It is [B]sick! Sick![/B] I forget what I screamed at her, (which was no doubt funny to her), but I slammed the phone down, something Iíve never done to anyone before. Trying to upset people for fun is a sign of immaturity that most people grow out of while young. This female is nearly 60 and knows no better! And what a gross choice of subject! :mad:

My best ideas come in the morning. Time and again I have been told that my ability to write strong well-worded letters can be devastating. Of course she got one of the best!

The issue of how to handle it seems like this. If I internalised this, Iíd blame myself for being vulnerable, work overtime to tidy my feelings back to the state they were in before, plus some more work because emotions must never show, all of which is stressful! In other words, Iíd be her victim. Why should I suffer this pain and stress because of her selfish amusement? Why in fact should people blame victims for feeling pain instead of blaming offenders for causing it?

So I externalised it. I sent the anger back where it came from. I doubt she was laughing when she received the letter that would have reached her this morning.

Its message was that I am not the doormat she seems to have mistaken me for. I have clearly stated my boundaries, and that her transgression lies far outside the limits of normal civilised behaviour. She can either apologise, or be excluded from my life forever.

I really mean this! I have no unpleasant people in my life and I am going to keep it that way! I had far too much harassment in the past

By feeling cold controlled anger I moved away from pain and victimhood. That let to contempt. I find the rare experience of contempt has a feel-good factor. Since, no matter what my imperfections, I would never, under any circumstances whatsoever, sink to the depths I am despising, I can feel fairly good about myself.

(I should add that I am normally a very easygoing person who believes firmly that every reasonable people is my equal, so it is almost unheard of for me to feel contempt for anyone I actually know. But the feel-good factor is a good antidote for feeling victimised.)

So that is all quite clear. But the problem is that when my brother comes home, sheíll presumably tell him that I have written this terrible letter when she Ďwas only having a little bit of harmless fun.í Then heíll want to stay in his wifeís good books, tell me I should have Ďignoredí it, anything for a quiet life, and so on.

I donít think I could handle it this way. It turns me into a doormat, ready for her to wipe her feet on at will! I absolutely needed to state my right to be treated with normal respect in that letter, but I would also prefer not to lose my brotherís friendship. So Iím just wondering how best to explain my side of the story to him.

I also have further thoughts about the power games some people play with others, which come into my reaction.

Thanks for making it this far!

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