I think that, perhaps, the issue can be helped if you are clear about your personal boundaries and make sure that everyone knows there are consequences for crossing them.
As for handling how upsetting this can be for you, your post reminded me of an email I got recently. I subscribe to a newsletter from a life coach about recovering from divorce (how pathetic am I?) and in the latest one, there's an article about not putting up with an ex's "bad behavior." I think some of what it said can apply in many relationships/dynamics. Here are a few tidbits (just substitute the word "ex" with any problematic person, as in a drama queen metamour or overly-defensive hubby
. I took out some wording specific to divorce.) :
"It's all about boundaries. If you are to heal, let go, and move on... you must create a safe and secure environment for yourself. No one else can do this for you. You must take back control of your life.
The first step is to determine what the upsets are that keep you stuck and emotionally reactive.
Start a Deficit Journal
Begin noticing what causes you upset or any other negative emotion. For instance:
Next, look at a specific entry, and determine how you can eliminate or control it. ...we can set boundaries that protect us.
- If you talk to your ex [or lover/spouse/metamour, etc.] and always end up with a negative reaction, that's an entry.
- If your ex becomes angry when you speak, that's an entry.
- If drinking 5 cups of coffee makes you feel badly, that's an entry.
For example, if when talking to your ex on the phone, he or she gets angry and abusive, it's time to explain to them your new boundary. Here is what you might say:
"Right now you're angry, and you're being abusive to me. That is something that I can no longer accept. Being emotional serves neither of us. I want you to know that when you become angry and abusive, I will end the conversation. I don't want it to be a surprise to you in the future if I hang up."
This concept can apply to your email and texts, too. The minute a communication gets ugly, delete! Always make certain that you have explained your boundaries, because what you are doing is a bit like Pavlovian conditioning: you are training your ex in proper behavior. Remember:
You can use this concept of boundaries in every area of your life. It is up to you and you alone to establish what you will and will not accept in your life.
- You must be consistent.
- You must always outline boundaries.
- You must do this to create a healing environment for yourself if you are to recover...
Remember that what you say "no" to defines you as a human being. When you say "no" to abuse, you go from being a victim to a hero or heroine. You take back your self-respect and self-esteem. You empower yourself."
I think it is obvious that all the above relies on honest, clear, and direct communication. Later in the newsletter there is this great little list:
The Steps to Stopping Bad Behavior
- Set the rules.
- Be consistent.
- Explain the consequences and abide by them.
- Stay Calm. You too have to walk away from your own bad behavior.
- Make certain that your ex knows what he or she is doing wrong.
- Offer a positive alternative. If your ex yells at you, ask them to speak nicely.
- Recognize their effort and acknowledge good behavior.
I don't know if this will help, or even if you think this might apply to you, but it came to my mind while reading how upset and frustrated you are over this, so hopefully some part of it can be useful.