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how do you cheer up a negative lonely person?
since I remember, since I was old enough and she started talking about personal things, I have this aunt who is very lonely. She divorced when she was around 40, she had some really ugly affairs with one asshole and one married man, after which she dismissed all guys as pigs. On the surface she has a lot of friends, she travels all the time for work, but I know that she doesn't talk about personal things with anyone, perhaps only one is really her friends, the others are just acquaintances, they only make conversation about work and stuff, rarely anything personal.
Last year she had a little tumor removed, and she didn't tell anyone, even me, and after she was very bitter and depressed because no-one went visit her (!).
The other day she told me (again) about a bad experience with some "friends", some people standing her up, by mistake probably but still it hurt, and as in the previous cases she lashed out violently against those people (that she insisted to visit even after they said that they didn't have place for her), and then she cried because she is lonely. She is 63, it really scares me to hear the same sad high school tales of how the other kids are bad from someone who should have their sh-t together.

I don't know what to say to her anymore, because she firmly refuses to meet anyone who is outside of her work circle or who are not strictly in her economic and social class and ideas (hard core atheists do not have clubs, if they had she wouldn't go), she has zero hobbies or interests except for work, and when I dare telling her that she can still go out and meet new people (she lives in a bigger town, with lots of things to do, so technically it could be possible) she get very angry at me because she says I am patronizing, and then she just adds that she is happy alone and she doesn't like people, contradicting what she said ten minutes before.

I am not a psychiatrist, but I understand that she is in major denial and doesn't want to assume responsibility for her own happiness so she is just blaming everybody (people, men, relatives, me), and she is in a cage of loneliness because of her prejudiced mind, still, I feel bad because she truly suffers, what can I do to make her feel better?

Sometimes she wants to go on holiday with me, making it very clear that she does it only because she has nobody else, and the few times we went it was always a nightmare, so I don't think my company is a solution. I always answer the phone though, although she is often a real bitch to me, mainly because i want to have personal conversations and she can only stand harmless chit chat.
Why do I feel sorry for her again? Smile
she is my aunt, for years I had nobody else but her to talk with, she wasn't so angry and bitter twenty years ago, and somewhere she has a good heart.
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

“I'm fine. Well, I'm not fine - I'm here."
"Is there something wrong with that?"

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I don't think there is anything you can do to make her happy, the only way things will change for her is if she decides to change things on her own. Doesn't sound like she wants to take any responsibility if all she does is blame other people.
Sickos never scare me. Least they're committed.  
Never Give Up!  Never Surrender!
[Image: jQ6-qc.gif]
She's 63, she probably won't change. The best thing to do is to support her if you can, and if you can't, let her go.
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
It doesn't sound like she's willing to change. I guess all you can do is help her, as long as it doesn't cost you your happiness and sanity.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.
(06-29-2013, 08:24 AM)Sci-Fi Wrote: I don't think there is anything you can do to make her happy, the only way things will change for her is if she decides to change things on her own. Doesn't sound like she wants to take any responsibility if all she does is blame other people.

Gotta agree with this. And agree with Muse and Locke too. There is only so much and so long you can try to help someone. Whenever I reach to this point with someone, I know that I can only try my best to support them and be there for them. Yeah it gets frustrating at times.... but what can you do, really, if they don't want to do anything about it. :s
I hate to say it, but even though she claims she's miserable, it sounds to me like she's not really willing to put forth any effort to make her life better. I don't think there's really anything you can do about that. If she really wants her life to change, she needs to be willing to take more responsibility for herself. I understand that you feel sorry for her (it's not easy to see anyone in pain), but just remember that although you can offer a listening ear and suggestions, you ultimately can't force her to change.
Just going purely from that which you’ve said…

It seems to me as though she’s been through a bunch of hurt that she hasn’t been able to overcome in the first instance (you mentioned high school?) This then leads to the formation of negative expectations, which have sadly been reinforced by the way that people (such as those men) have treated her over the following years. So it’s kind of sad that she has this mindset, but it appears to be warranted and difficult to move beyond for her.

Deep down she has a wanting to be close to other people (from the fact she was hurt about not getting visits) but as you say, she wants that closeness to be from people of a certain status, so her pride/standards are getting in the way. Then on top of that she has no interests which could lead to new friendships outside of work. The issue that I would say she has now, is that her situation may get even worse as time moves on and she approaches retirement.

The strange thing is, the thought of retirement reminds me of an idea which a lot of people seem to take up when they retire, and that is voluntary work. If she likes to talk about her work, perhaps she could find a field which would suit her personally, and then not only does she have an extra topic to talk about, but she hopefully might make some new friends?

I will say this though, she does sound like she isn’t very flexible (that isn’t a criticism BTW, a lot of people are like that.) I only mention that because it can be very tiring to try and help people who are inflexible, so please be careful, and don’t damage yourself trying to help put her life back together. By all means try and help her, but make she you’re able to take a step back when necessary.

(BTW I know you said about not being a psychiatrist, well I work in the same area as those guys, and that was the vibe I got from the things you said.)
It sounds like she's very rooted in her beliefs.
Maybe the best thing you can do is to just lend an ear.
Try to support her and be there for her.

She sounds like she has very old and very deep scars
and feels resigned to her fate.
Like others have said she sounds afraid to reach out
and take the risks associated with making new friends
or trying new things.
I tried cheering up someone like your aunt in the past. I agree with most of the posters that you can't infuse positivity in to someone who doesn't want to break their shell. But yeah, be there for her and try surprising her with the stuff she likes. It will at least give her some temporary relief.
I agree with unverified-just be there for her and and lend her your ear. She is obviously deeply wounded and needs to vent to you about her pain both from the past and the present.
Maybe she didn't tell people about her tumour because she might have been scared that noone would have bothered about her if they had known. I'm not saying that she would have been right in this assumption, but when you feel that noone is there for you, it is scary to tell others when you are ill and vulnerable incase your assumption that they don't care is proved to be correct.
I can understand her being upset when some people stood her up as when you are really lonely, these sort of things take on much more significance than they would for someone with a good support network of loved ones and close friends. They are taken as a sign that we are not valued or cared for and reinforce our loneliness.
Maybe she is scared of meeting new people under her bravado as so many people have-in her eyes-let her down, that letting others into her life maight seem too big a risk for her to take.
I do admire you for sticking with her and not leaving her. It must be so hard for you to keep going to see her, but I am sure that inside she appreciates it even if she doesn't say so.

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