is turning out to be like living with a passive aggressive college roommate/high schooler. She's in her 50's, and I'm not quite sure what to do.
First off, let me say that I'm extremely grateful to be living in her house (which is really my grandma's house, but she's now in an assisted living community) since starting back at school. It's a great location, and she hasn't been charging me rent, so I try to do what I can to keep things up around the house...I cook meals several times a week for both of us, dust, vacuum, mop, run errands, buy groceries, etc. I always make sure and check on her before I leave the house, and in general I'm trying to be very considerate since it's a pretty sweet set up I've got here.
The only thing is, I've only known this aunt for a few years (it's my dad's sister, he died when I was very young and I did not connect with his side of the family until I was an adult.) and she's exhibiting some pretty...histrionic behavior, I guess. She's in constant need of attention and validation. She'll come home from work and want to suck me in to a long tirade about how godawful her job is, how no one appreciates her, how grad school is too hard, how much she hates my other aunt, how irritating my grandma is, etc. There's no real discussion occurring during this, she's not looking for support, advice, or feedback from me, she just wants an audience to complain to (which, even THAT is fine, I get needing to rant when you're under stress, for 5 or 10 minutes. not a 90 minute car ride stuck in traffic where I do not get a word in edgewise, or all day long as we pass each other in the hall.) If it's not complaining, it's posturing/ego stroking. "Look how great I am. No one would survive without me. I'm so much better than x,y,z. So-and-so just thinks I hung the moon." etc.
There's a lot of passive aggressive attention seeking too. Yesterday I was making my typical big saturday morning breakfast, when she walked past me in the kitchen and kind of stared at me with her car keys in her hand before going..."I'm too tired to cook anything for myself, I guess I'm gonna go buy a sandwich." And I just stood there like....okay? If she had just come out and said "would you mind scrambling some more eggs, or could I have some of yours?" I would have said "absolutely!" But I REALLY don't want to drag it out of her or have to fish for what she wants. I feel like it would just be playing right into the game she's running. Same thing if I bring sweets home, like the cupcakes I bought last week. I come home with the box in my hand and she stares at me "well, I made cinnamon toast because I wanted something sweet." Me: "would you like some of my cupcake?" Her: "No. *big dramatic sniff, long stare* I'll just take my toast and go to bed..." OHMYGOD.
Frankly, I'm exhausted by all of this, and it most certainly is not a 2 way street. I've been under a fair amount of stress as well between moving to a new city, two people who are very dear to me getting married within a week of each other, leaving my job, restarting college, breaking things off with a guy I was dating. I've tried to open up about a little bit of this to her, and she basically shuts off. It's like she expects a lot of support from me (which feels weird and inappropriate in certain ways, like she brought up the fact that she's got a new boyfriend for the first time in 5 or 6 years and gleefully told me that they had sex and it was so great, and I'm just like...I'm not your kid, but this is still not something you need to share with me! I mean, you do you, but I'm not the person you should confide in about this stuff. It's creepy.) but I'm not going to get any of the same from her. I've been bummed about my quasi-breakup and there's a definite air of "walk it off, suck it up."
All of this being said, I want this to work out between us, and I want to be able to talk about things with her, but even when I go through the front door with trying to figure out what she wants, I get this weird, avoidant, overdramatic kind of stuff. Aaaand I feel the life getting sucked out of me a little bit. Lately I've just been listening to her for a few minutes and then excusing myself before I get pulled down into the pit. I try not to take car trips with her, and I keep the conversation fairly clipped. I don't want to be cold, but I can't keep having such a suck on my energy, I've got too much else to worry about right now with school.
Guh. Any thoughts, hivemind?