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Advice needed from you O Wise Ones! Invited to estranged sister's wedding - do I go and risk a massive family row?(61 Posts)
Sorry for the length and any spelling mistakes!
My younger sister has sent me an invite for her wedding at the beginning of September. We have not spoken for nearly 2 and a half years.
My younger brother (also not spoken to him for same time frame as little sis) also has his wedding the weekend before hers and we have not had an invite although my mother asked me if we could make the date. That was before I had ANOTHER massive fallout with her about my childhood and her abusive behaviour towards me though. I have concluded little brother has decided not to invite us to his.
2 and half years ago I 'confronted' my mother and stepfather about their abuse of me when I was growing up and their continued abuse to me through my DC (criticising my parenting/calling DC names/showing blatant favouritism to one while excluding his twin etc). I had had my DC4 a few months before after a long gap (same DH!) and I was also very upset that no one visited/showed any interest at all in him. I could not understand it.
In fact when he was 3 weeks old, we went to visit them to show him off at their invitation, no mean feat travelling 5 hours with 4DC and they told us that they had an appointment the next day, after saying they were free, after we finally got there late at night so we spent the whole of the next day from 9am -6pm alone in their home so we got in the car and drove back which they concluded was very rude . Stepfather even refused to hold DC4 when I needed to go to the loo in the brief time he was there.
During my pregnancy, I started therapy for panic/anxiety and of course the first thing my counsellor wanted to talk about was my family and I finally woke up to my 'scapegoat' role in the family. I had never really thought about it before and it blindsided me really.
I had always hated myself, always felt worthless and alone, never asked for help with anything, accepted my siblings view of me as a 'nutter' and their disassociation from me and constantly tried to win my mother's approval.
My real father walked away when I was 7 with no further contact and I was always compared to him as evil, nasty etc. My father was never to be discussed, he did not exist anymore. Looking back I did nothing wrong - no drugs, no boozing, no crime, no fallouts with siblings although I did 'run away' for a week when I was 17 with my 1st boyfriend to his parents house as my mother banned me from seeing him for no other reason than she did'nt want me to have a boyfriend. She sent me to live with my older sister at the other end of the country for 3 months afterwards as she 'would'nt have been able to stop herself from killing me' so I missed college and later dropped out. This is something she has never forgiven me for apparently.
So anyway I sent my mother an email as she had invited us for Christmas after the visit we had abandoned a few weeks earlier telling her we would NOT be coming and how I unimportant I felt to her also bringing up some quite terrible stuff she and my stepfather had done to me as a child (still can't quite believe what I went though and how I disassociated from it) copying in my 7 siblings as a way of vindicating myself to them that I was not a 'nutter' and saying how hurt I had been that none of them had offered any help when we had had a really bad time a few years before, hoping as we were all maturer that a better understanding of ME may bring us closer together.
Of course, my mother was traumatised and deeply hurt by my 'truth' and all my siblings sided with her and cut contact. My only 'full blooded' sibling who I had seen a handful of times over the last 16 years called me an 'attention seeking fuck up'.
My mother and I had an uneasy truce a few months later instigated by me after a Christmas with no contact with anybody as I could'nt bear being shut out of the family. She admitted that what I put in my email did happen but denied doing anything other than her 'best' for me. I later found out from an older sister (the only contact I have had with that sister since then) that my mother had told my siblings that I had a 'breakdown' due to the death of my 2nd DD at birth a few years before and they should not contact me as I was 'not ready'.
Up until this past Christmas I was only having sporadic telephone contact with my mother, still no contact with siblings. She sent birthday gifts for my older 3 DC on time but kept forgetting DC4. She sent Christmas cards leaving my DC4s name off them. One for each of the other 3 DC and one for DH and I, but not DC4. This upset me but she said that she'd 'forgot' him.
In March I stopped seeing my counsellor as I was getting no further nor feeling any better and could'nt afford it anymore. Shortly afterwards, I had a telephone conversation with my mother, discussing my DS2 being assessed for ASD. She said that his behaviour was basically because I was a crap mother and no better than her, so I shot back that I had learned how to mother from her but would never treat my DCs like she did me, so she slammed the phone down on me (I felt strangely very strong standing up to her). I immediately called her back as I wanted to sort it out and not end the call like that, only for my stepfather to pick up the phone and tell me not to call again.
She later sent a text saying that she could not deal with this any longer and not to contact her again if I was going to keep on about my childhood. I left it for almost 2 months and texted her asking if she would call me when she was ready. She did not reply. So I texted again last week and she (or rather my stepfather) sent me a long email stating that I had caused her to question herself as a mother but she has decided she has been a good one . She does not need this at her time of life, I have always been jealous of everyone etc. I sent an email back sticking to my guns but also that she was still my mum and I still loved her. Nothing has come back.
In this time my anxiety has been through the bloody roof and I feel like I am in a big black hole!
DH has said we will ALL go to my sister's wedding and fuck it! He will give them a few home truths if anyone (especially my brothers) starts something. I am obviously terrified but feel that I NEED to face them all.
I am sure my mother has told my siblings (and everybody else who will listen) about this last argument so either no one will talk to us or it will create a big argument and I have no wish to spoil my sister's day or have my DC overhear anything. I don't even have my sister's telephone number to call her and speak to her about whether she wants us to come now. She did not put a number on the invite and I can't ask my mum for her number.
What a fucking mess! It's so ridiculous I could laugh about it if it was'nt so hurtful .
Does the invite have your sister's address or your mothers? If your sister's you could write and ask her to phone you, or for her number so you can phone her. Have you any idea if it was your sister's or your mum's idea to invite you? Maybe your sister wants to mend bridges.
As for the rest your mum hasn't changed as evidenced by her treatment of your DC4. She's scapegoating again.
I can understand that your siblings might have a dim view of you and a different view of your childhood if you were the scapegoat and your experience is so at odds with their own memories. Also your mum evidently acts as gatekeeper and controls what information they get now so they are not really being able to make informed choices about you.
Ultimately your relationship with your family does not sound happy or healthy and you might be better to cut ties. I would not attend the wedding unless you've had a productive conversation with your sister and maybe not even then.
Don't go! Your relatives are spoiling for a fight, and so is your DH! Nothing good can come of this, especially such a high-pressure occasion as a wedding.
Why not speak to the sister who sent you the invitation?
Either she is being pressured somehow into inviting you, or she would prefer that you not be "estranged".
Speak to her ahead of the event and see what you think.
They all sound awful. Just awful. Poor you.
Cut contact, because you need to. You don't need them in your life, they are not giving you anything but negativity, are they?
Dear God, why exactly do you want to go? I would consider myself well out of that lot, easier said than done I know.
Waffly 'I can understand that your siblings might have a dim view of you and a different view of your childhood if you were the scapegoat and your experience is so at odds with their own memories. Also your mum evidently acts as gatekeeper and controls what information they get now so they are not really being able to make informed choices about you.'
Very true which was what I was trying to change by copying them into the 'confrontation' email. I truly fucked up with that! Why I ever thought they would have any empathy for me I don't know. My mum has always been the 'gatekeeper'. I used to say to her in my FOGgy days how sad it was that all us siblings were not close/never got together and she would say 'well they have their own lives, why would they be interested in yours?'
My sister sent the invitation, it has her address on it. I shall have to write to her and ask her for her to phone me about it. How ridiculous! I guess I'm scared she won't reply. She is the youngest of my mother's children with my stepdad and she has had many falling outs with them. My mother literally brought up her DC (with her exDP not who she's marrying, I've never met him but my mother hates him apparently as she did her exDP). Maybe she got wise to my mother much earlier than I did!
I would go, but I think other posters are right, get in touch with your sister beforehand and if you are going to have it out or say home truths, don't do it on the wedding day.
Your mother won't always be around. It would be interesting to know if this contact from your sister means something in terms of future relationships.
What outcome are you hoping for? Really, what is the best case scenario? If you need to face them then a wedding is not the time. Going on the info in your op, any ill feeling will be blamed on you and you may be accused of spoiling the day. Is it even a good idea to face the entire family en masse?
I appreciate you need answers. Some of what you say resonates with some of my experience of my father and his treatment of myself and my sister. Despite talking to my sister, I felt no better, because her experience was so different she cannot reconcile it with mine. I would be concerned this is what is happening with your siblings.
Talk to your sister if you can. But do things on your terms, don't go into a situation so heavily stacked against you.
I don't know why I want to go! Maybe to finally stand up for myself? Maybe because I desperately want to be a part my family for my DC and for myself so I dont feel so alone? It's not going to just blow over and we all do the conga happily together though is it ?
It is really hard to accept that I've always been alone though. They never were the family I thought they were.
Trouble is, by standing up for yourself you give them more power to hurt you. Sometimes you do just have to cut ties without the acknowledgement that you have been wronged by the perpetrator. Explore this olive branch with your sister but just from the info you've given it sounds like your mother will not change.
If you want to get back in touch with your family, and especially if you want to get them to realise that you are not attention seeking, but have been treated badly, going to a wedding with the intention of having it out with them isn't a good idea.
I think you should take your sister's invitation at face value, and get in touch with her. Just contact her, say you are delighted to hear from her, and try to meet her for a coffee. Baby steps. Don't ruin the wedding just to make a point.
If/when you meet her, see how it goes. Try not to go straight in to a rant about your parents, or how badly they treated you. Sometimes children's memories of childhood are very different, and she may feel a loyalty to your parents. A softly-softly approach, trying to get to the bottom of the family dynamic will do you a lot more good than a row.
I would suggest you get some counselling and break contact.
You could contact your sister to see if she really wants you at her wedding.
However, I think you really needto give up on them. They are toxic and will not give you what you are looking for.
I'd write to your sister saying how lovely it was for her to invite you to her wedding but that you're worried that any family tension might overshadow what's meant to be a very special day for her and her fiancé.
Ask if you can take her out for lunch in the week before her wedding (or something) so you can celebrate the occasion with her, but without risking a "scene".
Doesn't sound like the rest of the family are ready to build bridges, but maybe starting to build a relationship with this sister - if that's what you both want - might be good.
It sounds really messy, sorry. I don't think I'd go to the wedding, sounds like far too much scope for a mega row. Send a nice RSVP saying you appreciate the invite but can't make it, send a card and a gift nearer the time. Last thing you want is a massive family feud kicking off at the wedding.
As an aside my mother cut contact with 8 of her siblings after her divorce from my father and she got involved with my stepdad. All the cousins we had grown up with, we never saw again. She remained in contact with one sister only. I remember her mentioning that one of her other sister's had died with no emotion whatsoever. I was shocked.
Fucking hell, I am repeating her history.
I have absolutely no wish to ruin my sister's day. I do not blame my siblings for the way they were brought up. I don't want to have it out with them. It's already been said. I am expecting a lot of derision though especially from my 3 brothers.
I will write to my sister and take it from there. At least she will know I was bothered even if we don't go.
I wish I had never started this. I know what I said was true and how I feel about myself came from it but with hindsight I would rather have been blissfully ignorant and carried on being the family loon .
Don't go. It'll start everything up again.
Write and thank sis for thé invitation, but state that it'd not be in the best interests of either you, or her to allow a situation that could overshadow her day.
Cut the cord, stop going back to them and focus on the people that really matter, your H, your DC.
Go with an open mind. Don't get drawn into family rows or 'stand off's' and if anybody says anything just say you want bygones to be bygones and you wanto mend faences with everyone and not take sides.
Good luck. Life's too short for family feuds.
Have you considered contacting your cousins or members of your dad's family?
Have a poke around on Facebook and see whether you might find another family.
And if you come from a family of loons, them thinking you are a loon is no harm .
there is no point in applying normal family logic to a family such as this.
No open mind, turning the other cheek, staying out of it.
A family like that won't allow any of that.
First of all, have a big hug. Your family are incredibly toxic and I was very moved by your post. It must hurt so much that they are like this. You have done nothing wrong at all and I think the time has come to cut yourself off. They cause you far more pain than give you love and you will just damage yourself further if you try to keep them in your life.
Your mother is not a good person and I am sorry that she isn't the mum that you deserve. You can't change her and you will never get her to admit what she has done or is doing.
It is time to think about YOU and your family. Don't go to the wedding. If you can, send your sister a message saying you wish her all the best but you think that for the sake of her having a harmonious wedding you think it best not to go.
With regards to therapy, I can recommend EFT. It is incredibly fast and measurable and if you can find a skilled therapist it will help you to break free from the past and the hold your family has over you.
Take care of yourself and your family. Focus on those who love you and show you respect. Reject anybody who doesn't treat you the way you would want your kids to be treated. Value yourself, it is THEM with the problem, not you.
You have tried everything you could. It's time to pour that energy into healing from what has happened to you.
I don't know how long you had therapy for, but I suggest it wasn't long enough. Please get back to it and find a way - ask for reduced fees, they are not offended to be asked. I am currently paying a nominal amount for therapy, through a charity.
This stood out which was what I was trying to change . YOu really are on a hiding to nothing - or a great deal more pain - if you genuinely think you can change anything. The family system - with you firmly in place as the scapegoat - is set in concrete and, really, NOTHING will change that. Well, maybe something could BUT IT DEFINITELY WON'T BE YOU.
You are the enemy, the family colostomy bag (because they can't process their own waste). They have a deeply vested interest in keeping you exactly where (they think) you are: the scapegoat, the waste of space, the one that ruins the family. Blah blah blah and blah. It goes on and on. and on! It never ends. A collective blindness. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it and your very best bet is to walk away. Please walk away, you will only get hurt more. They will hurt you more and more deeply because they WILL NOT respond to your humanity. They have objectified you in order to survive in your toxic family. Please don't go back for more - it will get worse.
I know it's hard to hear. I heard an analogy once that really spoke to me (as the scapegoat in my family): there is no point beating on the door that is never going to open; that has a light underneath so you know someone is home. You beat and beat on it until you're bloody. You try everything - pleading, shouting, honesty, sincerity, appeals etc. The door is never going to open.
Give up the idea of family. Or that family, anyway. You have your own family now - put your energies into that.
Write to the bride but please don't expect anything. I recently went to a family wedding. I went to honour the b&g who specifically wanted me there. I only went to the ceremony and slipped out at the end of the service - and fair skipped down the road. It was bliss to slip away from my family, to not have to endure the torture of being sniped at, sneered at, ridiculed (all supposed to be funny... ha ha ha) and not being able to respond or it would 'spoil the day'.
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