To find this behaviour annoying and martyr like.

(217 Posts)
stressedsister1 Fri 23-Aug-13 22:42:06

My sister and I have been under a lot of strain recently.

She has mild learning difficulties and much of her behaviour I find very selfish, which I think is a combination of both the learning difficulties and her personality (I have an uncle who is very similar)

She always puts herself first, and will never go out of her way to do anything else for somebody unless it benefits her. Recently I have told her how upset I am by her selfish behaviour.

Her response to this has been acting so selfless, it actually comes across in my (probably unreasonable) opinion as acting like a martyr.

e.g. When she was sitting with the paper, I asked how long she would be. I would consider a typical answer "Don't worry, I'll only be 5 minutes" or something similar. Her response is "I haven't finished, but here, you can have it."

e.g. She was standing next to the bath in her towel (with the door open, don't ask me why!) It wasn't clear if she was about to get in, or had just gotten out, so I asked her. I would consider a typical answer "Sorry, I'm just about to get in, I'll be as quick as I can" or something similar. Her response is "I haven't had a bath yet, but you can go first."

I find this behaviour really annoying and martyr like.

When she says these things, it actually makes me feel bad and guilty, when I didn't intentionally do anything wrong. I am trying my best to get on with her, but she just makes me feel bad, as if I was taking advantage of her.

I don't think she is trying to upset me on purpose, actually I think she is trying to take on board what I said about her being selfish, and actually trying to make me happier. She is just going about it in a way that inadvertently upsets me.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 24-Aug-13 17:29:17

Have you got a advocay centre near you? Something like swan advocacy?

They will have details of any services I. Your area that can offer you support as will mind.

Most support services aimed at adult family members are free and they don't have to asses anyone all they need is for you to make enquires,you may be lucky and find that your area has a informal support group they can be great for talking things out with others in the same situation.

Rather than write nasty comments, it would be good if someone could come up with a practical way I could explain to my sister that I do know she was trying, but what she did did make me unhappy, so I would rather she didn't keep doing that so I wouldn't be unhappy

This is what makes me think you may benefit from something you focused.

Its also hard not to read it and get the rage,because your sister is not responsible for your emotions nor are you for hers,however you told her to not behave how she was she did a total swap around that shows she's trying as the others have surgested direct questions are the way to go,questioning like that in your family may be usual but its obviously (with the addition of your previous instruction to dsis) become either confusing for her or giving her opportunity to wind you up so break it down keep it simple and make it clear exactly what you require, no naffing about if its the bath heater then say "let me know of your having a bath then I can put the water heater on" that way there is no opening for either you or her to feel obliged to act in any way anything about how long she's going to be will result in a response you are unhappy with you know this so don't do it,
This may sound harsh but continuing in that way is manipulative and very nasty.

However its also very apparent from your posts that your trying your best in a very differcult situation and that's why I think something like a support group or even just chatting with others in the same situation will help you lots,it will also give you a chance to concentrate on your feelings in a safe enviroment and often the people who run these things can signpost you to further places to offer you support,and the support they offer will be personal to you and not your sister and you may find that attention really reduces the negativity your feeling.

OxfordBags Sat 24-Aug-13 14:57:56

OP, what Spotty said here was so perceptive:

*I don't think your family have really accepted that your sister has additional needs. And I think your parents have minimised her additional needs and there's an undercurrent of wanting her to be normal and minimising the difficulties she experiences and causes because, well, if you ignore it it'll go away and if you just TELL her enough then someday, she'll get it and be normal.

That's the problem.*

What she wrote is exactly how it's coming across to me too. I would bet good money on there having been, when you were growing up, an implied or actually verbalised belief that she would 'get better' or 'grow out of' her issues when she became an adult, went to college and so on. Or perhaps deep down inside yourself, you believed that. I think that her becoming an adult, going to Uni, having relationships, etc., all those things you thought would improve or cure her, and you discovering that they are having no effect on her problems (or, rather, the aspects of her that you find embarassing, wish she didn't have, believe make her unhappy, etc.), has reated a sort of crisis point for you. I say this because crying for hours over being offered a paper points to some really deep problems you're desperately pushing down and refusing to look at. I think you're realising that she is going to be like this, probably forever, and your way of coping with everything to do with her behaviour, being her sister, and so on, has been to tell yourself that she is going to change and improve (in ways you've idealised in your mind). Now you're starting to realise that this isn't going to happen, you're struggling to cope. And understandably so. You need some support - from outside the family. It's not weakness, it's strength to ask for help. Who knows, you might learn new ways to accept and approach your sister that have the knock-on effect of her improving because someone is finally getting her and giving her what she truly needs.

Wat you're currently trying to do is akin to believing that if you shout at a deaf person enough, then they will start to be able to hear (and because they are only deafbecause they're not trying hard enough to hear). If it ain't working, change. You can change much more easily than she can.

cory Sat 24-Aug-13 12:39:26

I really think you need to find a way to move out and get some distance between yourself and your family even if it means poverty and inconvenience and hardship for you. Because this setup is really not good for you.

What is happening at the moment is a situation where you are all being infantilised by your parents' inability to handle your sister's LD. As long as you are in this situation you will be

a) exhausted

b) unable to get used to grown-up relationships

Atm you are still desperately unhappy because you are not getting your parents' recognition; in other words, you are thinking like a child; it's about what "the grown-ups" do to do to you rather than about you taking your destiny in your own hands.

This is why some posters are reacting quite negatively to you: you really don't speak as a 24yo adult, but are still stuck in this child-mode. Not surprising, it is something many of us revert to when we go back to see our parents.

You need to get away somewhere where you are able to breathe and be an adult. Start making plans now. Don't wait until your parents are old and frail and you feel bad about leaving them with your dsis. Make a plan for the next year: how can you earn more, what cheap accommodation is there etc.

In the meantime, you may have to recognise that while you can only have limited control over your sister's reactions, you can control your own. If you are staying up half the night crying because you felt awkward over a paper, then you need to recognise

a) that this behaviour is not normal

b) that you can get control over your emotions through using CBT techniques and distracting yourself

This is not denying that you have a genuine problem- but people with genuine problem can sometimes use tricks to make sure they are not totally bogged down.

MrsDeVere Sat 24-Aug-13 11:28:36

I hope that his brothers will support my DS but I would never expect them to put their lives on hold for him.
He is our responsibility, not theirs.

Do you think you can move out OP? Do you want to?

Mumsyblouse Sat 24-Aug-13 10:18:07

I think it's extremely important you leave home (aged 24) and get out there and make your own life. In some ways, you living at home and constantly helping out with your sister is covering up for your parents her real needs as being more profound than they like to think they are, plus it is creating a very unpleasant and over-dependent sibling relationship which is likely to end in you resenting her very deeply, whereas actually what she needs is a lovely fun sister who can help her on occasions but isn't worn down by the whole situation and has her own life.

Financially, I don't know what work you do or why you are all still living at home in your twenties, but I would strongly encourage you to move out, even just to a shared house where you have one room in a not great location, it's better to forge your own path in life at this stage than save a small amount of money but live in a very dysfunctional situation in which you are being labelled as the 'bad' or 'intolerant' one.

One of my siblings has MH problems, of course they have impacted on me over the years, but they impact less because I have my own life, family and job which are nothing to do with that, and I am fresh and not resentful if there's a real crisis and we all need to jump to that.

Move out and live your own life, it's the only way, you are too enmeshed here and need the distance to be a more sympathetic and helpful carer.

Spottypurse Sat 24-Aug-13 10:07:27

Stressed sister - if I'm wrong here shoot me down. It is AIBU after all.

I don't think your family have really accepted that your sister has additional needs. And I think your parents have minimised her additional needs and there's an undercurrent of wanting her to be normal and minimising the difficulties she experiences and causes because, well, if you ignore it it'll go away and if you just TELL her enough then someday, she'll get it and be normal.

That's the problem.

MrsDeVere Sat 24-Aug-13 10:02:56

Spotty I know what you mean and I have no doubt you love your brother.

My DS has LDs. He is one of 5 DCs. His siblings have to cope with a lot.
I worry what it will be like for them as they all get older.

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Sat 24-Aug-13 10:02:17

Darling girl - what you want and what is are two different things sad That is one shitty lesson in life that takes most of us a long long time to accept and you aren't there yet. Lots of us still 'wish xyz were different' (and I wont bore you with all of mine), but eventually you get to a point where you simply have to accept that you have to settle for something other than what you really 'want' sad

You are not going to find any peace until you can accept that. Of course you want her not to do those things, but her SN means that she will say & do those things... it's her. She copies, she tries, she listens and tries to adapt her behaviour - she can't do any more than that...

Move out. Get your own life. Be her sister - not her keeper or her carer - she can and will make her own way in life, making her own mistakes and you can be there for her, but it is your parents job to keep her 'safe' if she needs that, not yours. Your job is to sort YOUR life out & be responsible for YOUR happiness in life and only 'give' your sister what you can (emotionally) afford to give her without sacrificing your own sanity/happiness.

MrsDeVere Sat 24-Aug-13 10:01:03

Blimey, just realised that I might have come across as dismissive of people's experiences.

When I said that people on the thread might not know I was referring to the fact this is in AIBU.

I'll shut up now because I can't seem to say what I need to say without saying it all wrong blush

Spottypurse Sat 24-Aug-13 09:58:23

I know I sound like a heard hearted cow but I do love my brother. But he behaves as he does and it isn't a reflection on me. I think the OP is too close and it's just all going to be irritating at this point.

We use prat with my brother as a short hand for behaving in a way that isn't generally socially acceptable. I never thought it meant deliberately doing it, I just thought it meant doing something unthinkingly.

tabulahrasa Sat 24-Aug-13 09:55:41

"As for the sibling group, I'm not sure. I almost feel because my sister's needs are nowhere near as severe as many people's, nobody would take me seriously. Also because although she has an official diagnosis with traits of various conditions, she doesn't actually meet the criteria for a specific condition. Which makes it harder to explain."

That's not an issue - it's way more common than you'd think, they should understand that completely.

MrsDeVere Sat 24-Aug-13 09:53:23

spotty I used your word but I wasn't really referring to your post IySWIM.

It was a general comment.

MrsDeVere Sat 24-Aug-13 09:52:18

Living with someone with LD is hard work.
LDs do not simply mean someone is not very bright.

IME the most difficult thing about living/working with and loving someone with LD is the lack of emotional maturity. Particularly as they get older and their actions and words seem that much more inappropriate because they are adults.

People with LDs can appear to be very high functioning, with good speech, vocabulary and a wide range of interests. But this can mask huge processing problems.

The language goes in but it gets scrambled and it the person with LD never really 'gets it'

Hence the inappropriate comments, apparent passive aggressiveness, sulking and tantrums.

I am sure you know all this already stressed but it might be that other people on thread don't.

Point is, you shouldn't feel guilty about getting irritated with your sister. I understand why your family are so protective of her but it doesn't help her to be given a free pass every time she does something she shouldn't.

Equally its not helpful for people to say that having LDs is not an excuse for being a prat.

Its not as black and white as that. If it was it would be a hell of a lot easier than it is.

Just from your OP is sounds like your sister has responded to your conversation in a literal way. It may be that she just doesn't get the subtleties involved in social interaction. You told her some things she did upset her so she is now doing the opposite?

I think it is pretty rough for the siblings in general. There is not much understanding of what it is like for them and very little support available.

Boomba Sat 24-Aug-13 09:46:06

Also, you are holding your sister and her behaviours responsible for your happiness. She isn't. You are an adult. You need to get out of this dynamic

Spottypurse Sat 24-Aug-13 09:43:56

You just aren't getting it. I'm trying to give my perspective and experience but you aren't getting it. You want me to tell you she needs to change? I can't do that because she won't. She is what she is.

Good luck.

Spottypurse Sat 24-Aug-13 09:41:41

But you have to let her own her own behaviour. It is simply not your job to fix her. Hugs. I know it's hard. But it's not for you to fix.

You don't want her to act like that. But she is and she does. You can't change that. And life is a lot easier once you accept that about all sorts of things.

I was using prat as an illustration of a word. Sorry I have upset you.

stressedsister1 Sat 24-Aug-13 09:39:11

Look. So she said some stuff in front of LBGT friends that wasn't appropriate. Loads of people do that. Not just because of additional needs. So she was a prat. That is her being a prat. It doesn't reflect badly on you. If she's a prat either because she's a prat or because her difficulties make her seem like a prat - she's a prat. It's not a reflection on you.

But, I don't want her to act like that. It upsets me and it upsets other people. When I intervene, it upsets her too.

But her behaviour isn't because she's a prat, it's because she repeats what she hears. She didn't realise it was offensive. She probably heard someone else say something similar, so thought it was normal to say.

To be a prat I think you have to intentionally want to hurt people. She didn't want to hurt anyone, she just didn't realise why what she was saying was offensive.

catinabox Sat 24-Aug-13 09:39:04

As for the sibling group, I'm not sure. I almost feel because my sister's needs are nowhere near as severe as many people's, nobody would take me seriously. Also because although she has an official diagnosis with traits of various conditions, she doesn't actually meet the criteria for a specific condition. Which makes it harder to explain

To be honest? At this point i'd give that a miss and focus on yourself for a bit.

have another wine

And tbh I'm not sure severity of the condition is an issue as such for siblings. My son's autism is very severe & I would be bonkers to think it hasn't affected his siblings at all, but we have always worked very hard to ensure a) that ds1's wish to control doesn't extend to siblings - he's simply not allowed to control them and never has been and b) that siblings have their own space to develop their own interests & their own time away & their own moments when their needs are prioritised. So it may be that despite my son being more severely affected by his condition than your sister, his siblings may have been less affected. How a condition affects siblings will depend a lot on family dynamics rather than the actual condition.

Spottypurse Sat 24-Aug-13 09:37:28

What I'm trying to illustrate is. If my NT brother goes out and gets plastered and vomits on someone. That's not my problem. If he goes out and acts in appropriately commenting or acting like a prat - that's not my problem either.

Just because its my brother with additional needs doing inappropriate things, doesn't make it any more my problem.

Do you see what I mean?

catinabox Sat 24-Aug-13 09:37:10

These are for you OP flowers wine

catinabox Sat 24-Aug-13 09:35:20

I really disagree with saying that the OP is 'disproportionately' angry or talking about her sister being 'selfish' as if it's it's not possible. It invalidates her feelings and infantilises her sister.

Actually, i'd disagree. Being really angry and hurt about her DS being martyrish over the newspaper and bath is a bit disproportionate. I'm not invalidating her feelings. I am pointing out that they a rooted in much bigger issues. OP herself says that:

The same way that my family have invalidated my feelings and infantilised my sister

And recognises that the infantalisation of her sister by her family has been detrimental to her well being.

OP it's a massive shame that your didn't get the change to go to any sibs groups when you were younger. Stoic families often think they are doing the right thing but it hasn't given you the acknowledgement you have needed.

I visited a sibs group once and there was a big display on the wall. The young people had written things like ' i like this group because it gives me a change to get away from my brother for a while' and 'I like this group because the other people understand what it is like to have an autistic sister etc'

So these ^^ children have had a chance to be socialised to feel that it is 'o.k' to be able to have a rant, be fed up, get away from it all for a bit. You haven't had that and you are kind of stuck with it in your own hands now in a toxic family dynamic.

And yes, you are right, it is like the addict/alcoholic thing. It doesn't really matter what the family members presenting issue is, if for whatever reason we have beome locked into becoming the problem solver and rescuer, it is the same pattern of behaviours we have to un pick and work out.

Ah..i feel loads more compassion for you than i did when i first read this thread OP. I really hope you can work things through and start feeling better. will you let us know how you are getting on?

Spottypurse Sat 24-Aug-13 09:34:43

Stressed sister - I don't live with him now. I did until I went to Uni and for 3-4 years after Uni.

Look. So she said some stuff in front of LBGT friends that wasn't appropriate. Loads of people do that. Not just because of additional needs. So she was a prat. That is her being a prat. It doesn't reflect badly on you. If she's a prat either because she's a prat or because her difficulties make her seem like a prat - she's a prat. It's not a reflection on you.

I've out that really badly and I'm not suggesting all people with additional needs are parts at all.

Well I don't suppose groups particularly care about that.

Not all groups are helpful - ime you need to really seek out people in a similar situation to you, & group make-up can be a bit random but this page www.sibs.org.uk/adult-siblings has good general advice, and there's nothing to stop you seeking online forums as a first step (perhaps even try starting a thread on here for siblings).

ChippingInNeedsSleepAndCoffee Sat 24-Aug-13 09:32:54

Morning - I mean to say last night, I think you should get this moved to the Special Needs topic, AIBU really isn't the place for it. If you click on 'report this post' next to your opening bit and ask MN to move it for you, they will.

I really wish I knew you IRL. You need a hug, you need someone to care about you, you need someone you can offload to without being made to feel guilty. If you don't have a friend who you you can do this with, then I think you need to find a counsellor who you can talk to.

As I have said from the beginning, the problem is your parents & the way they have built up this family dynamic (and wont accept help or advice).

You are very young yourself, your parents are still around (& hopefully will be for a very long time) - so whilst you clearly love your sister and want the best for her, you need to think of yourself as well (clearly they aren't). I think you need to find a way to move out - irrespective of what you are doing - studying/working you should be able to afford somewhere - even if it's just a room in a 'lodgings' place for now. Not ideal, not every young girls dream admittedly - but freedom from this dynamic. There is nothing to then stop you spending as much time with your sister as you want, but if you aren't 'under your parents roof' you can be more yourself with her and you have somewhere else to escape to. Stop saying you can't - and work out how to.

What is your relationship like with your other sister? How does she cope?

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