Posted by: Judy | March 29, 2013

Being helpful…


I’m frustrated.

NM asked me to help her download my latest book. She has the other two books.

This is the third book. Why doesn’t she know how to do it herself by now? If she doesn’t think she can remember from download to download, why hasn’t she written down what to do?

After all, it’s what she always expected me to do, to make sure I never made the same mistake again…

Why did I baulk?

First, helping usually entails a great deal more than implied.

“Help me” often means “do it for me.”

It never takes a couple minutes…

It’s really sad. She wants attention.

I cannot spend alone time with her. Sometimes it’s harmless, but often it is not.

She comes across so pleasant, soft…

Who knows what triggers her, but suddenly she pleasantly insults, demeans, belittles. She offers an innocent look, like her nasty remarks were nothing at all.


The level of insanity is astonishing.

What else?

I know myself. There’s a whole lot more to register this much anxiety.

I told her to go to Amazon, find the book, and buy it.

“I can’t figure it out.”

I tell her she’s making it too hard.

She melts down to total helplessness.

The more helpless she becomes the more I will not help her.

Then she offers me money to help her, buying me.

I’m done.

I expect her to be a grown up.

What is really underneath all this?

All the times I asked for help and was told to figure it out. All the times she and EF expected me to be an adult, regardless of the fact I was a child. All the times they refused to answer simple questions. All the times they did nothing while I floundered and it wasn’t over buying a book. It was basic survival. All the times I was refused help and have paid for it the rest of my life.

Am I seeking revenge? Please, God, I hope not.

What would have changed this whole debacle?

If she had told me what she had done to solve the problem herself. “I did this and this and this and now I’m stuck.”

That’s it.

Yes, it’s really that simple, and yet, it isn’t.

I’m not so sure this was a battle worth fighting. So why did I?

I know the consequences of doing anything for NM.


I have been avoiding NM very successfully for quite some time now. It’s been a relief. It’s also amazing when you consider we live in the same house.

She found a way to force interaction.

I tried avoidance.

It didn’t work.

Sigh. There is no nice way through this. There is no win/win.

But wait, there’s more. Yippee-skippy.

The time factor. There was no scheduling a time. She wanted help now. It didn’t matter what I was doing. She decided I wasn’t busy when I was making breakfast, so I could help her.

Yes, I could have asked for a different time.

Please take note: I could have asked for a different time.

Suddenly, she is accommodating me, and I’m still taking the risk of being alone with her, opening the door for her to slice and dice at will.

This is the world of narcissism.


I calmed. It helped to finish some work, so I wasn’t feeling so pressed for time.

I asked if the book had been downloaded because NM was doing something on her computer. Perfect. She’s there, and I was there.

No, not yet was the reply.

I was then told that she couldn’t do anything because my brother had unplugged everything.

Wait… what?

I took a quick look. Everything was plugged in.

Then I was told that the Kindle needed to be recharged but she couldn’t do it because everything was unplugged. She even showed me the wire and complained when she plugged it in the light was yellow not green.

I explained the yellow light was Kindle’s way of telling her it was charging. I told her to plug it in. She did, and she was done. Note: This isn’t the first recharge.

She was working on something else and didn’t have time to do anything else. Interrupting her self-imposed schedule was unacceptable.

Yes, this is how it goes.

I left.

Not long after, I saw her and she complained about the Kindle telling her she had to unplug it. I tried to explain if she wanted to read she had to eject it, comparing it to ejecting a disk, to which she assured me she didn’t have a disk. She complained the Kindle still wasn’t charged after 10 minutes. She unplugged it. I tried to explain it needed more than ten minutes. I gave up. It is moments like this when I wonder how much she understands. Then I review the conversation.

No matter what I said, she jumped to conclusions. If what I said didn’t match the conversation in her head she was confused and kept working to bring me to the conversation in her head, no matter how nonsensical it was.

She knew what she wanted, and the only possible answer was what she wanted in the way she wanted it.

It really is sad.

The good thing?

I don’t feel guilty for not complying when she demanded my help immediately. It was a losing battle before I started. I knew it, but forgot for a moment.

The anger and frustration are gone, and I’m at peace with myself.


  1. Hurray for peace. Good for you.

    • 🙂

  2. Nothing like putting things in writing to see what is really going on. I have learned a lot from this Judy, thank you for sharing it with us. I can see similar patterns in my FOO and some friends. I love how you broke the patterns down to what they really amount to underneath. It’s like they’re playing a game where if you say white they’ll say black and if you agree and say black they’ll switch to white again. It does my head in. Brilliant post. 🙂

    • They really do that. I tested. Instead of black and white I chose weather. I said it was chilly; she disagreed; I agreed it was lovely; she told me it was chilly. I’ve done it with other things, too. I’m not sure they have an actual opinion so much as are disagreeable.

      • I think it’s good to test, because then 1) you learn what’s really going on, and 2) you realise it’s a sort of game they’re playing with you and you don’t have to go along with it anymore. You stop wasting your time trying to reason with them and can focus on what you need to do to keep yourself sane.

        Judy, would it be ok to put a link to this post on my blog? I have a post in mind that about how Ns like to use up one’s time and I’d like to link it as a related post. xx

        • Please feel free to share.

          • Thank you 🙂

            • You’re welcome, and good morning! Well, it’s morning here anyway. 😀

            • Good morning to you too! Where I am it’s afternoon now 🙂

            • I hope the rest of your day is lovely, Kara! 🙂

            • I’m spending the day pottering about at home. Hope you have a lovely day too! 🙂

            • Sounds comfy. 🙂 My sister and I are going to the local Ren Faire. I’m looking forward to it.

  3. Yikes. (((((Judy))))) To me it seems like a combo of the NM thing plus plain old dementia (senile)– which you’ve mentioned in the past. Just, wow…
    I think the avoidance thing is all you can do, to preserve your own peace of mind.
    I’m very uncomfy around the people I’ve known who do the “weather” trick (and fill in the blank for ANY topic where the word weather is) — you’re having a conversation with them, you’ll rephrase back to them what you thought you heard them say (that is, you’re agreeing with them!), and they’ll say, in an irritated way, as if you’re a stupid child, “No, it’s not THAT, it’s (insert here the opposite of whatever you had just been talking about)!” !!!!!

    And after even 5 minutes of that kind of conversation, you feel belittled, and stupid, and somewhat off balance– but you hadn’t been disagreeing with them! It’s very frustrating. It is definitely THEM, when they’re acting like that, but it still makes you feel small. I’m thinking of one person who does this consistenly (she works for my employer, but at a different location, thank you, God, so I don’t run into her that often), and I avoid talking to her as much as possible.

    (((((((((Judy))))))))))) hugs and prayers!

    • (((((((((((((Mary)))))))))))))))) I think you pegged it: They enjoy confrontation and making others look stupid… so they look smart… sad and pathetic.

  4. Ooops, we’ve run out of reply options. A Ren Faire sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday, hope you both enjoy it. 🙂

    • We did! Will post more on Monday. 🙂

  5. That is great you were able to see the pattern; It was great to see how you focused on the issues at hand and also addressed her traps. DH and I fall for the traps quite often. And I am trying to break this pattern – thank you for sharing your experience. xxoo T

    • You’re welcome, T! It’s taken lots and lots of practice and that was after I finally figured out what was going on. They’re really good at laying traps. Keep fighting for you!

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