Sharing an email.
Do you think it’s possible to help someone who does not think (maybe) they need help?
I am curious to know what to do you think of this story of an aunty I know quite well , really like and admire. And I am always confused about what to feel about her.
Here is why:
Aunty is a very bright woman. An intelligent person who can talk from Syrian war to the real reason for hike in onion prices. She is golden hearted in true sense to everyone, without a thought to class/ caste/ gender/ relation. She is very progressive as far as her son and his wife’s life choices are concerned. I have rarely seen anyone who is so supportive of modern values in next generation as she is.
She married an engineer when she was just 19 years old. It was a love marriage. Her husband grew in leaps and bounds in his career. Aunty has always been very domestic minded and submissive natured person: not only towards the husband, but towards everyone. The family moved from city to city due to the nature of uncle’s job. He earned well, and they had a lot of facilities ( rare at that time). Aunty looked after home and the ageing parents + siblings of both of them. Uncle was a rarity then because he supported her family also, which used to be a taboo 35-40 years ago.
It is a common knowledge that she is not a very good ‘manager’, works slightly slow since she is very fussy about cleaning etc., she is reluctant to delegate duties to domestic help and is way too submissive to disipline her children or set routines at home. Similarly, she has a nurse like servile attitude towards older people/ relations/ guests. As a result, her life have been spent doing virtually domestic help kind of tasks and serving people, almost spoon-feeding people.
Her daughter had a major mental disorder which went virtually unchecked because aunty, who was home, was very busy and uncle used to travel for work. The daughter also lives with them and like mother, spends most of her time home. The daughter is spoon fed and treated with kid gloves, aunty refuses to leave her on her own for residential therapies, refuses to rationally deal with the disease. Her solution to everything is to serve the person to the T!
Uncle is a person who worries a lot: especially about his family and friends. He does that to men as well as women. He himself is overtly cautious and physically inactive person. He always discourged his wife from learning driving since the streets were unsafe, travelling on her own since it was unsafe, going out in the night even for male members was discouraged etc.etc. As a result, she was further dependent on him for movement and became more and more homebound as a result. Her son who was rebellious escaped this overprotectiveness by protests/ fights, but aunty and her daughter didn’t. They are very homely people.
Now, when she is 65, I see her not stepping out of home at all. Lack of excercise means health has suffered. She meekly agrees to everything anyone in the family says, although I know that she is smart enough to understand better options. The family members blindly depend on her and expect her to be there at their beck and call. She has spent too much time not taking decisions and now when Uncle’s health is suffering, when she is the one who is required to manage, she is unable to do so. I also think she is very tired to be able to take any ‘mental’ responsibility of managing.
I feel frustrated and angry with her for being so passive and so dormant. The family she spent her life serving, is falling away, be it money issues or health, since uncle has zero sense about spending, they haven’t saved much and the medical expenses are quite a lot since uncle is almost an hypochondriac.
She has always allowed her husband to lead their lives: good or bad way. Now when he is unable to take rational decisions, she is allowing her own life to led almost by mad impulses and irrational decisions of her husband. She says whatever is in our destiny, will happen. But it is so frustrating to see her almost dying every day with hard work, mental stress, apathy due to the depressing environment at home. Her son who lives in a different city has tried multiple times to help his mother: by hiring full time help (but it is still aunty who works hard!!), by instructing family members to change their dependence ( but they don’t), by requesting that the daughter should go out and socialize etc. But aunty has no energy to try something new anymore.
As someone who really likes the aunty and someone who cares for well being of women around me, what do you suggest we should do to help?
thanks and best regards