Across the ocean lives my superficially kind, perfidiously manipulative aunt. Before I talk shit, I must note she was a second mother figure for me growing up. My actual mother is not quite a functional human, and my dad came to see me every two weeks. The occasional visits I had from my dad, along with visits to my aunt, were invaluable to me. It helped me grow up less screwed up than I could be. I needed that, so I am eternally grateful.
My aunt has also gone out of her way to help me. Most recently this year, she spent quite a bit of effort on a favor I asked, while refusing compensation beyond the costs. Back in 2007, she contributed awesomely at Jana and I's wedding with games*, poetry, and singing†. Overall, in my life, she has been a kind, if subtly calculating presence.
She comes across as the nicest person. Practically a saint. That makes it disconcerting when you realize she finagles her way to be everyone's friend – only to smugly judge and diss them when they're not around. This offers opportunity for anyone to learn how, if someone talks shit about others to you, you can be sure they also talk shit about you.
She and her family are taking care of a severely mentally and physically disabled daughter, who is now in her mid-twenties. The family struggled until they solved all their problems by becoming treasured apostles of Janez Rugelj, a narcissistic Slovenian cult psychiatrist‡. His malicious, holier-than-thou influence lingers, even after he's fortunately deceased.
She tells everyone, including occasional interviews, what a gift from God her disabled child is. She's so convincing, and says it so often, I'm pretty sure she actually means it!
As a lifetime housewife who could never come to terms with dropping out of university, she looks for ways to contribute. She volunteers at a hotline for people in emotional distress. But she's now best known for her project, the All-Adoption (Vseposvojitev). This is the most supercilious, sanctimonious, dishonest attempt at political "reconciliation" I've seen.
Slovenia is divided over tens of thousands of returning war prisoners which the Yugoslav Partisans flat-out slaughtered after WWII. Many of the returned were Nazi collaborators who were responsible for Slovenian deaths. But there were no trials, and the massacres were covered up. The dead could not be mentioned. This was a major wrongdoing, so even in 2019, when hardly anyone who remembers a victim is still living, it serves as a wedge issue for the Catholic right to drum up political support. Passions get heated, there is much online conflict, and it serves to empower politicians.
In an epitome of Catholic spiritual onanism, the All-Adoption project claims a moral high ground of "reconciliation" while speaking and breathing a language which has zero chance of ever reaching the side to be reconciled with. It doesn't even attempt to. The website is chock-full of religious language which is abhorrent to the Slovenian left. 70 years after the fact, my aunt anoints herself as a de-facto speaker for the post-war victims, and the essence of the project is an act of masturbation. You submit your email and get the name of a random victim, most of whom are men. You then spiritually "adopt" this man. This means you think nice thoughts about him. In long-standing Christian tradition, the net result is that you elevate your opinion of yourself as a morally better person, while having done nothing for anyone but yourself.
I've known about this All-Adoption for years, without saying anything about it. I've seen my aunt cavort with religious and political leaders in an – as far as I can tell – genuine attempt to further the cause. So why say anything now?
Well, because she's messing with my kids and marriage. You see, that favor she helped me with this year? She does that to get on a person's good side. She establishes a benevolent presence, and from that toehold, she can try to control.
My wife and I left Slovenia 12 years ago. During this time, neither my aunt or her family have ever visited. Our kids are 6 and 1 year old. My aunt has never seen them, except on pictures.
Yet she has developed this hypothesis, from all the way in Europe, that we are raising our kids too permissively. Without having witnessed any part of our parenting, she's convinced I'm making the same mistakes as my mom made with me. I explain to her: "Aunt, you don't know what you're talking about. You know how there exist normal people who communicate so as to learn from others and offer support? That's not how you communicate. You communicate to gain ammunition to judge and dispense wisdom. As soon as you have formed some premature opinion, you begin to act as though you no longer need to listen. Then you think it's unjust when the other person doesn't accept your guidance." I explain how, unlike with my mom, there are two parents in our household, and I defer most judgment calls to Jana, who I think makes reasonable decisions about where to be strict, and where to not be.
In the very next reply, my aunt insinuates – with all the faux subtlety, without making direct statements! – that I should take charge of parenting from Jana, and that my kids may be ruined if I don't. What's not stated is: if I did that, then I could be a better conduit for parenting advice from Europe!
One of my aunt's wisdoms, which I actually really liked, is to have faith that God writes straight even with crooked lines. These are some crooked lines indeed. :)
* As the world's boringest groom, I prohibited surprises and games, since they are sometimes humiliating. In hindsight, I should have trusted the families to create a nice experience. My wife's family respected my preference; whereas my family, as is tradition, ignored it and surprised us, anyway. This was unfair, and caused my new in-laws to feel left out.
† This is "grabbing the spotlight" – a narcissistic trait.
‡ Rugelj's Wikipedia page is maintained by his fans and does not reflect how contentious he was. Instead of aiding his patients and helping them become independent, he groomed them as lifelong followers in his personality cult. He preyed on the weak, especially alcoholics. He espoused radical traditionalist views and was highly critical of homosexuality. When the psychiatric board tried to stop the abuse, he prevailed by going on hunger strikes and playing a victim.