Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Troublesome Guests

Dear Lydia,

I have been reading this post (from May  2017 about the conduct of outsiders in our homes) and rereading it since you posted it. It has taken me a month to finally be able to leave this comment.

This post was such a comfort to me (and continues to be), as we had a Very Unpleasant Incident take place in our home on Easter. I grew up in a home with a screaming mother and unending sarcasm from both parents, and so I have deliberately cultivated a home of peace, rest, and comfort. We have actually had to severely limit our little family's exposure to my parents and brother, as they refuse to acknowledge that their 'normal' isn't welcome the world over. I give this background to emphasize how important it is to me who enters my home. I guard our sanctuary diligently, and have made our little home into the type of place that weary, world-sick friends drop in on, sometimes unexpectedly, to escape their troubles and have a restful cup of tea. Sometimes we chat, sometimes they simply want to sit and, I think, feel protected. 

On Easter, we have a habit of inviting those without family to join our family for dinner. This year, we invited an engaged couple we knew and an older woman completely alone in this world (in her mid-60's). All of these people were from our church. The older woman can be a challenge at times, but I held my breath and depended on Good Manners to see us through the day. Imagine the trauma - yes, trauma - that was inflicted on my safe, restful little home when she unleashed her vitriol in an opinion that was directly contrary to the other female guest in our home. The table cleared quickly, with people getting up and walking away before dinner was done. I was shaking. I spoke with the younger woman, and she was angry with me for inviting the older woman and not telling her, as she always suspected the older woman had problems (but had never taken the time to speak with her). The older woman refused to leave right away, and the light-hearted, joyful feel to the day was gone. 

Throughout the next week, our little family struggled to get through the trauma of that day. It sounds absolutely ridiculous to state it in such a dramatic way, but there is no other way to put it. We all felt that our home had been violated. The day after Easter, I got an email from the older woman criticising our parenting and stating that we need to expose the whole ugly world to our sons and ourselves instead of shielding us all from it. I prayed, and then wrote her an email that I would no longer be tolerant of her criticisms of us as parents (it wasn't the first time), and that she was very poorly behaved in treating another guest so badly in someone else's home. She didn't appreciate my words of chastisement, and hasn't spoken to me since. I only laid out her actions against us and left it open for an apology and forgiveness, but she chose the other path. I have wondered if I should be more 'tolerant,' but figured if I can hold my own parents to a certain standard I should be able to hold others to the same without regret. 

So, Lady Lydia, thank you so very much for these comforting words. And I have an etiquette question for you that has niggled in the back of my mind: Am I wrong to not have told each guest who else was invited? I didn't realize people expected that. I've certainly never been given that information when invited to others' homes. One is expected to behave oneself no matter who the other guests are, and if one doesn't like the other guests, then one leaves as soon as is polite. Is that not correct? 

Thank you for your time, and I'm sorry I wrote an entire blog post as a comment. This has been weighing on my mind for a long time.


Dear Shani,

I like the rating you put on the visit: Very Unpleasant, and shall use VU along with VB (very bad) in my collection of abbreviations.

I agree with you about the trauma it causes.  I have walked around in circles unable to focus on normal life after one of those awful guest situations. That's what Is known as  "leaving  a bad taste in the mouth" -- a dinner turned sour!  It almost felt as if the Holy Spirit, who will not dwell long in an unholy place, got up and left the house. It takes days to restore the love of the home after a person of sour disposition, or an arrogant ego centered domineering person has had their way.

As far as I know, it was not a policy in the past to let guests know the guest list but there needs to be a new policy!  Most of the time we find out by word of mouth. The older folks of the previous era avoided a lot of social situations where they knew they would be treated badly, or where people they just didn't want to be around, were invited. There usually were ways of finding out who would be there.

 If they can scout out the guest list somehow, those who want to avoid a troublesome person can then opt out of the social gathering.  I am all for that. We should not be caught in something we didn't know about. Over the years I figured out several things and try to use each mistake as another lesson.

Here are some other social situations to be wary of:

Elderly  women who have been rude and bossy are NOT going to get better by your compassionate inclusion of them in your social events. They may suppose they have special privilege because of their advanced years, but I am in advanced years myself and never suppose I am allowed to be rude.

  My experience is these women always get worse.  If they are lonely and need companionship, they are so aggressive they can easily create their own social life. They don't "need" us.  To this day I avoid them because it is not my mission or my ministry or my role to make life better for them.  Such mean women who attack people can  wreak havoc at church and in the home. Proverbs warns against taking a dog by the ears. That means leave them alone lest they make more trouble.

I never get in the car with anyone who has previously used a ride as an opportunity to berate me or others while driving. There is an old saying that tea loosens the tongue but I have noticed that driving loosens the tongue for some drivers who get someone captive in a car trip or ride , using it as an opportunity to criticize. For some reason, some drivers get mouthy and preachy and dictatorial.  

Another thing wise to decline is "the meeting".  These meetings are deceptive because when you get there, someone has it stacked against one person, with a file folder containing a whole arsenal of lists of offenses and accusations.  The person invited to the meeting is never prepared, but the inviter knows what he or she is going to say and sometimes has stacked the meeting with friends against you.

If someone wants to tell you something they can just call and tell you.  A meeting is not necessary if they are normal people able to talk and communicate as friends or family.  In the home we never needed a meeting because we were open with each other and talked freely as good friends.  We did not save up evidence and then call a meeting.  It's not scriptural anyway.  You are suppose to talk individually to someone first.  I think the meeting thing might come from the corporate world where they humiliate employees by dismissing them in front of other people.

For events you wish to attend where you know someone will be there who targets you for their "fix" or "supply" of trouble, you need to go at a later time or sit in the back where you can see them but they can't see you, that is, if it's something you HAVE to attend.  However If you are tough and able to keep from being intimidated, by all means, go.

Be careful not to put yourself at a social disadvantage where you know you will be hurt. That means avoid social situations that will deplete you of your sense of well being. That may mean scouting a bit to detect all possible ways the social situation could harm you and your reputation. 

A lot of times men do not notice these things because they are not being attacked. They may think their wives are at fault in some way and deserved the berating of the perpetrator. The women are most often attacked because they seem so more accommodating, especially if they are willing extenders of help and hospitality.

You might want to study how narcissists operate, which is something that the corporate began to suffer from, and has filtered into the church and home.  They are people who can only feel good when they are making someone else feel bad. They target nice people who are hospitable and giving and accommodating because they can get a lot of supply out of them.  To test whether someone is narcissistic, smile a lot and see if they frown.  Frown and see if they smile. Their goal is to make you frown. They will frown til they make you unhappy and after they have dealt you with a devastating comment they will smile and appear more at ease.  They will even sing or whistle a tune if they have made someone else unhappy by a rude remark.

We have a displaced sense of charity because we think we can be nice to people that have lost favor with other people. We see them as victims of unfairness and we think we can do the job when no one else can. I think that is called the Messiah complex, which is the belief we can save people that no one else can. Whether it be saving them from being alone or from suffering, we step in and invite them over. Someone told me he knew a person had some bad qualities that were very detrimental in social situations but he "didn't want to admit it" because the man was in the church.  Later this man humiliated him in front of others. We are not obligated to fellowship mean people.

Narcs go around testing the people they are with to see if they are vulnerable enough to be attacked. One sign of vulnerability is if you are sympathetic and empathetic, if you are pleasant and friendly. You look like an easy mark for someone to boss you or criticize.The solution is not to turn hard and mean yourself but to take note of such people and avoid them.

This has been going on since the beginning of time. Even a casual study of the book of Proverbs, and some of the epistles, will reveal who you should avoid. It says to "mark"  those who cause division and avoid them. To mark someone is to take note of it and flee from it.  Take note what your friendship with them produces ...does it make the rest of the family on edge?

The writings preserved from Victorian ettiquette practices indicated that with more social situations coming to fore in the lives of ordinary people, there needed to be some rules of conduct. They established these by observation of the problems that ocurred. You as the woman of the house have a legitimate reason for refusing the company of some people in favor of others and your observations are what you will be developing your guests list from.

Yes we all want to include  people  who are alone and left out, but we have to ask why they are not with their families or included in hospitality, before we decide we are going to be the big hero and invite them.  The formative years of your family are more important than the freedom and  pleasure of your guests. (Many of us wish we had known that.)

I am afraid Christian women want to fix these flawed people but the Bible indicates Gods way is to avoid them.  Over the years I was told that to avoid someone was not Christian but I observed that you only get in more trouble if you try to include these people. We can't improve what the Bible says about this. These rude people need to feel they are on the outside until they are well developed enough socially to earn their place on the inside of the precious social group of your family.  Their socialization is very corrupt and you should be very afraid of the effect it will have on your home.

Yes, it is correct to politely excuse yourself and leave, if you know another guest is going to trouble you.  Also, if you know one guest can be irksome, the others should know she or he will be there.



ladypinktulip said...

Oh I can relate to this post too well. I have family members from out of state right now who are here locally. I have met up with them elsewhere....because.....they make "fun of" "laugh" and make snide remarks about how my home is decorated. I decorate with shabby chic and lots of pretties. They find this laughable I guess. So I won't allow them over to my home to make me feel embarassed or upset. One of the sad facts of our day is the UNfilteredness of people and their rudeness. If someone doesn't agree or like something, what ever happened to keeping quiet about it? Love Kelly T.

Unknown said...

I just wanted to say to Shani, I don't think trauma is an overstatement from the details you explained.
We have been in this situation too. Mainly with my own mother. I am an only child and she has been divorced from my dad since I was 2. Maybe this is wrong to share.
We have been verbally challenged in front of our 5 children about CHRIST and how" He isn't the one who takes care of us".
We have been very directly challenged by her on our standards for dress, for the girls. She thought is was RIDICULOUS that we wouldn't let our oldest daughter wear a two piece bikini..."things are different now."

There are many more experinces, some almost physically confrontational (on her part) and so we haven't seen her for 5 years. I have wrestled and wrestled with feeling so bad because she is alone. She has 4 siblings, but no one invites her any more.
When Mrs. Sherman said they are so aggressive they can easily create thier own social life, it was a light bubl moment for me!!! That is just so true! As my mom always comes up with these "new" friends...and they're gone after the first outing..or gathering.

Your sharing blessed me..thank you.

I know how much thought time we can give these experiences and I just wanted to say.....I know how it feels!

Mama Said No said...

Thank you for this post. I am afraid that I have suffered from a 'messiah complex' in my life--and it does bring suffering. There have been times where I have befriended people, and actually ended up being harmed by the 'friendship'. The point that you made about asking yourself WHY the person is apart from their family or friends is a priceless piece of advice. I thought for years that my husband was just silly or rude when he would tell me to not let certain people into our lives. He would say, "You can be polite when you see them, but do NOT bring them into our lives any closer." I often didn't listen, and one day, my disobedience almost cost me everything I hold dear. Thankfully, God protected our family from harm, and from then on I have taken my husband's counsel to heart. Thank you for your your wisdom.

Unknown said...

I love this post. Now i understand 1 of my "friends"...she fits the description of a narc. Good to see the light!

Lydia said...

The Bible describes these people but most of us never "see" because of the way we read things. But it is there. One thing you may notice is these people are not absorbed in doing anything of value and they get all their energy from others, by "draining " their energy.

Lydia said...

You have to be careful not too analyze or over-think these incidents too much. A person whose behavior has to be constantly figured out, and leaves everyone confused, is basically hiding something underhanded.

Lydia said...

Decades ago comedians had a heyday with characters like that and uses them as material for their sketches. When everyone was watching the same show on Friday night, some of these flaws were corrected, as people saw how ridiculous these erratic personalities looked and how other people responded to them, and they became more introspective and conscious about how they appeared to others (in their personal quirks). Shows like Andy Griffith or Carol Burnett featured characters of bossy, complaining, shallow, foolish, gullible, careless, thoughtless, etc. that made people see the humor in them. Other characters made rash decisions or got caught up with the wrong people, and the comedies showed how silly it was. The Carol Burnett show had the bossy Mama, the lazy woman, the ignorantl man, the confused person, and many other types that no one wanted to be identified as, but everyone thought were amusing. Sometimes the shows got all the characters reacting together and it was mayhem. People in general didn't want to resemble any of these silly people portrayed on these shows. But of course today no one sees these shows anymore and I suppose we are less aware of how we come across to people. My huband remembers when he was a boy on the farm in Kansas how story tellers used to make their rounds to entertain people in communities, and how amusing the stories were. Before that there were many accounts for school children in The school readers of children who were unkind, u trustworthy, betraying, etc. and the consequences. Comedies, stories, and books can educate people about human behavior, but today it seems we have gone backwards and need some manners revivals.

Unknown said...

Oh Mrs. I wish you were my next door neighbour;)

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

My husband refused to be in the same room with his father after his sister told him that he had molested her when she was young. She kept up the relationship and said she had forgiven him. We would never allow our children to be in the same room with him alone. He was a miserable human being and later on he basically divorced us as well. He was what my mom called an Aunt Bessie, who never saw good in anything, it never rains but what it pours.

When my children were in grade school my husband was coerced into Amway. He was very gullible back then and seeing the Rolls Royces parked outside a venue and diamonds around the women's necks, he thought that he could make millions as well. We spent more of our own money buying Amway than we ever made back from the people he badgered into joining.He left our church and went to a church where his sponsors went and got all involved. He thought God was leading the way until one day his sponsors came over for dinner and they told him that they were getting out because it was a cult and they felt they had neglected their children by going to meetings and rallys and throwing good money after bad. During this debacle he was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and went on medication. It was like the shales falling off his eyes. It turns out that guy who was the head honcho of the organization he belonged to was being investigated by the FBI for money laundering and tax fraud.
We could never go anywhere without him launching into the spiel and we lost a lot of friends because one thing they teach in Amway was if you aren't for us, you're against us. We came to edge of divorce, but I hung in and finally he realized what an a#$ he had made of himself.

PS: I loved Mama on the Carol Burnett show, she was just like my sister in law, only much more funny.

Shani said...

Thank you, Lady Lydia, for such a thorough and concise reply. I certainly didn't expect to see it as a post in its own right! I so appreciate everything you wrote, and like Mrs. O, there were several 'lightbulb moments' for me, as well. I have saved it, and will reread it several times more.

Mrs. O, thank you for your kindness and empathy. We have not seen my mother in six years, and so I know exactly the bouts of guilt that make the rounds that you're referring to. I have shared with my father that she is mentally ill and needs help, and while he agrees completely with me, he has said that she will never admit it and he will never force her to get help. So, we have stayed away. Her emotional and mental abuse will not touch my sons, and the multi-generational curses will stop with me. It has caused some severe health problems for me, but I'm on the mend now, thank God, and am determined not to be manipulated anymore. I've found that because of that relationship with my mother, it makes me more susceptible to people like that. Ugh. What some mothers do to their children. As Dr. Laura has said, she "ripped up her mother card." I'm sorry you have experienced such trauma as well, but thank the good God you aren't perpetuating it. (((hugs)))

May you all have a lovely, lovely holiday weekend, and may it be filled with love, laughter, and the presence of the Holy Ghost.

~Shani x

terricheney said...

I am so grateful this woman wrote in and that you replied. I have a situation that I've been shielding myself from and feeling very guilty over with my own mother. She is so negative and critical and often can be physically abusive to me as well as belittling me in front of her friends etc. She is fast approaching the time when she will need real care and I have had to make it clear that I am not going to be able to attend to these needs that she must seek help elsewhere. I too have been reading my Bible and trying hard to find answers about how I should behave towards her. I have worked hard to let go of bitterness and unforgiveness and I always treat her with the utmost respect but I simply cannot continually expose myself to the poison in her. I so appreciate what I've read here. It has helped me see clearly that I am not wrong as I'm often made to feel by those who do not understand how horrible it can be.

Lydia said...

Deborah, there are some YouTube videos on that subject. Just go to YouTube and type in what you are looking for and use several different titles.

According to what some people have discovered by living with such people, You can't tell some people what your plans are if they have a habit of changing them. You have to do what you need to do and do not let them know ahead.

Lydia said...

CL Scott, I am sorry I lost your comment, since I am using a very small device and have my problem with the keyboard. However I want to say I agree with listening to the warnings of your husband and other people and thereby avert social problems. I remember how I was warned by people about troublesome guests but I thought they failed to understand them and that I could do better... resulting in disaster in my own home.

Willow said...

Thank you so much Shani & Lydia for this post. It has made me realise that I have been dealing with a narcissist in my group of 'friends' - the behaviour you describe is exactly what she has been doing to me - taking advantage of my good nature & my 'listening ear', and then gossiping about me to others. She seems to get pleasure out of putting people down. I have been able to walk away from this situation now, but at the time I was incredibly hurt by this person, Thanks once again Lydia for your wise words & good advice, warmly given.

living from glory to glory said...

Hello, Just thought I would chime in on this post. I agree so very much with what you shared. I know longer want people in my home that want to hurt others and control the conversations. I think I will educate myself on the behavior of a narcissist.
Holidays and family get together's can turn out very badly, when we have people that have no manners and think more highly of themselves than they ought.
I do believe many of these people may be struggling with emotional wounds, but they just spew hatred and anger and just plain meanness.
You are right about watching their countenance as it will look like Caines did in Genesis!!
Blessings, Roxy