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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)
Lionessy Sat 15-Jun-13 21:32:01

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 hmm. 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 hmm. 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 sad.

jessjessjess Sun 16-Jun-13 01:27:14

Toxic families don't change. Fuck the lot of them - stay away for your own protection.

WhiteBirdBlueSky Sun 16-Jun-13 02:16:36

It seems unlikely that it will end well if you do go.

Go if you like drama.

Thumbwitch Sun 16-Jun-13 02:33:45

Contact your sister who invited you. She has obviously invited you for a reason and is clearly aware of the situation you are in, and the potential for rifts/bunfights at her wedding if you do go.
Ask her to phone you because you really don't want to cause any problems at her wedding and you want to discuss this for her sake.

She may not have invited all the rest of the family!

I think you really need to speak to her - since you have her name and address, can you not look up her phone number using Directory Enquiries? Try that before you write to her.

If you get no further contact from her at all prior to the wedding, then I'd probably not go - but you might find that she's extending an olive branch to you because she has some sympathy with your situation. Perhaps she is ALSO being scapegoated (in a family of your size it's quite likely there's more than one of you!) and is wanting to get closer to you?
But you won't know any of this without talking to her. So do that.

DangerRabbit Sun 16-Jun-13 09:35:05

Poor you, what a complicated family situation you are in. It sounds very courageous that you stood up to your mum and confronted her about past behaviours and upsetting that this was so poorly recieved by all family members and they closed ranks against you. As others on this thread have said so eloquently, it sounds like your family are desperate for someone to blame and to not take responsibility for own actions and behaviours.

I dont really feel qualified to offer you any feedback on your own situation, but i wanted to share my friends story, its a lot less complicated than yours sounds so i dont know if you would find it helpful.

I was recently bridesmaid at my friends wedding, my friend had an estranged sister of over 5 years (i dont know all the details of the estrangement), and she decided to invite her sister to the wedding. The sister was resistant at first but finally decided to attend and the day appeared to go smoothly for her. Six months later my friend had a baby and her sister has chosen to visit regularly. My friend found this a bit weird at first since they hadnt had contact for so long but they are able to maintain a civil conversation and it seems the sister is keen to build bridges after my friend opened the door by inviting her.

Not sure if this is relevant to your situation but you may like to consider what you would hope to get out of the event if you attended and what emotional cost might be to you both if you decided to attend and not attend.

zipzap Sun 16-Jun-13 11:31:11

You know some of the things that your dm have told your siblings have been untrue - you have no idea what she will have told your dsis about you wanting to go to the wedding so not to bother sending an invite... She might be telling her you don't want to go and has thought well at I will send invite so at least I can say I asked even if you don't want to come...

If she has had problems with your dm too then maybe talking to your dsis, explaining what your mum has said to you and finding out what she has said to your did, and then maybe you'll find a way to keep a good relationship cutting your dm out of the interaction between you -or at least always agree to not automatically believe what your mum says about the other one!

IAmNotAMindReader Sun 16-Jun-13 18:27:57

It may be possible to have a relationship with this sibling at some point. I would be wary of going to the wedding in case the rest of them, instigated by your mother use it as a platform to deride you, create as much drama and ill feeling as possible and then blame you for it all.

Stop texting your mother she will never see things the way they are she has repeatedly told you this and she will never change, her actions have shown you this. Hard as it may be close the door on that one and wish your sister well but don't expect too much. If she was your replacement she could still have her own mountain of shit to wade through.

Justfornowitwilldo Sun 16-Jun-13 18:36:48

Why would you want your children to be any part of a family that treats their mother with contempt?

Your mother is a toxic parent and she has used her children as tools in her arsenal against you. She has also said and done all the things that toxic people do. People from dysfunctional families end up playing roles; yours here is one of scapegoat. Your other siblings suck up to your mother and are glad that they are themselves not on the receiving end. Their role however, is one not without its own price but they are too stupid to realise otherwise.

No point at all in dealing with anyone like this; you will never get the approval you seek from this emotionally disordered woman. She is likely to be narcissistic in terms of personality; such types often use the tactics you describe and triangulate between children as well.

Why on earth has DH said that we will all go to your sister's wedding?. I guess he is spoiling for a fight but his course of action will do you and he no favours at all. He has likely, unlike your good self, come from a family where this type of familial dysfunction is completely unknown and so is acting like he is. "Normal" tactics regarding familial relations do not and never work with dysfunctional family units like your birth family, your mother made you the scapegoat perhaps because you reminded her most of the man who left her. It is NOT your fault she is like this. You did not make her this way.

I think you also stopped counselling too early. I would re-arrange counselling asap; BACP are good and do not charge the earth.

I think too your youngest sister got wise to your mother long before you did. You certainly need to establish if she has invited anyone like your brothers along to the ceremony and take it from there.

Lionessy Sun 16-Jun-13 20:59:27

Attila Oh I know. That's all true. It's such a bloody hard thing to carry around though. As an adult, I have realised that I feel exactly how I did as a child - lonely, isolated and like there is something inherently wrong with ME. I am the one no one contacts while they all attend family get togethers (which I see on Facebook). It is completely shit and I keep waiting for it to change but I know it won't.

I do think I remind my mother of my father (strange that my brother, his only 'real' son did'nt). Also after thinking about it some more last night I have realised that my mother started acting differently when I told her that I had been in contact with my real father (at the age of 38). She probably thinks I've betrayed her! When in fact she (and him) betrayed me iukwim.

DH has a very loving, tactile mother and father who cry when they see him and when again when we leave (different culture). Totally different upbringing, never smacked or called names, felt totally loved. So yes, he has no clue and wants me to get over as it as 'she's your mum, it does'nt matter what she's done'.

DD (16) especially would like to go to the wedding. DH has said he will go with DCs and I can stay at home. Hmm. He is a bit of a bastard himself at times.

Lionessy Sun 16-Jun-13 21:01:09

Thanks for all the other replies on this thread. It has all helped x

springytate Mon 17-Jun-13 00:09:06

When you are given the role of scapegoat IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU. So don't be looking for reasons why she's done/doing this. Families just choose a scapegoat and that's that.

Get back to therapy, sweetie. Long haul! xxx

springytate Mon 17-Jun-13 00:10:47

I'd be wary of a 16yo dd going to the wedding. Around about that age, kids start to think their parents are shit. You don't want any budding ideas she has on your shitness being confirmed and egged on by your family.

T-shirt! angry sad

Thumbwitch Mon 17-Jun-13 01:02:50

Yes, if they go to the wedding you NEED to go too, you can't allow stuff to happen there without you knowing about it.

Your DH is a completely insensate idiot if he thinks you "should just get over it" - not every mother is an appropriate parent, and yours certainly isn't.

It's a hard mindset to shift, the idea that it's somehow your fault, and this is because it was imprinted on you at a very early age. The earlier we pick up these ideas, the more embedded they are - they are core beliefs. Will PM you.

Shellywelly1973 Mon 17-Jun-13 01:16:59

In all honesty what door you really expect from your family?

Your dhs response seems strange...

I wouldn't go.

cleopatrasasp Mon 17-Jun-13 06:21:16

Don't go. You have escaped and this is your chance to protect your DCs from your toxic, dysfunctional family, it's your job as their mum to do this so do it for them if you won't protect yourself.

Ignore everyone from 'normal' families who gives you advice to 'build bridges' etc. Unfortunately, the majority of people who come from functional families just can't seem to be able to face the harsh reality that not everyone's family is like theirs and that if you just keep trying hard enough yours will be too. This is utter shite.

If you go back to your family they will play with you like a cat plays with a mouse. You will never get answers or apologies from them, this is the stark truth. Build your own loving family and friends from people who actually like and care for you, this is your way to happiness though it worries me that your DH is not supprting you but is actually causing you further stress - is he generally kind and supportive other than this? Oh and delete all of them off your Facebook account.

Be brave, you deserve to be happy.

mummytime Mon 17-Jun-13 06:33:00

Your DHs family sound a bit strange to be honest, even given the "different culture". I might ask a few questions either on the net (including here with a name change if you want) or from rel life acquaintances from that culture.
Maybe some couples counselling would help him understand your family are never going to be "normal".

RenterNomad Mon 17-Jun-13 08:14:26

Oh, don't let yourDH and DD go. Your DD will be exposed to the family as a new ally or victim (neither nice), and DH may get into a fight, as he won't be able to accept their behaviour, either.

Hide the invitation if you have to

springytate Mon 17-Jun-13 10:40:13

Ignore everyone from 'normal' families who gives you advice to 'build bridges' etc. Unfortunately, the majority of people who come from functional families just can't seem to be able to face the harsh reality that not everyone's family is like theirs and that if you just keep trying hard enough yours will be too. This is utter shite.

If you go back to your family they will play with you like a cat plays with a mouse. You will never get answers or apologies from them, this is the stark truth. Build your own loving family and friends from people who actually like and care for you, this is your way to happiness

Perfect, cleopatra . So perfect, it has to be repeated imo.

ime you have to keep repeating the truth to yourself. It takes a huge amount to get it to sink in.

You will never get what you want and deserve from your family

Stop trying

Your DH and DD will be played by your birth family for fools if they attend this wedding. What on earth are they thinking here?.

Why is your DH saying this at all, his primary loyalty should be to you and you alone. He spoiling for a fight with your birth family is not going to end well. He has no comprehension whatsoever of what toxic families are like. Facing these people will just end badly because they don't ever apologise nor accept any responsibility for their actions.

What Cleopatrasasp wrote earlier as well in its entireity, particularly the second paragraph.

Your birth family all need to be deleted off your FB account, infact I would make myself unavailable on FB by shutting this account down. FB is such a good tool for narcs as well.

Lionessy Mon 17-Jun-13 11:15:12

DH is from abroad and only sees his parents every few years. They do cry, show emotion, hug etc especially as we see them rarely and they are in their 70s now. My mother has never hugged me as an adult and I can't remember it as a child, that's why I make sure I grab my DC for a hug every day even though they fight me off most of the time!

DH has turned into an utter cunt over the last few years I must say. I suffer terribly from panic attacks/OCD/general anxiety and he has seen me change from a very strong, attractive, in control, confident career woman into a 'too frightened to work' complete and utter wreck. My looks has changed beyond recognition too. He has lost respect for me and has no patience as he has no understanding at all. I have often told him that I wish he could just spend one hour in my head - he would not cope.

In fairness though, we have been through hell the last 10 years. We have been through more shit than most couples experience in a lifetime. I am a nightmare to live with due to our circumstances. I am also not the person he married, that's true so I will call him an utter cunt and hate him momentarily for his lack of compassion for me BUT I know he loves me as I love him and when things are better again hopefully we will be fine.

He has a misguided plan that we attend the wedding, I show my family that I don't give a shit what they think of me and then I feel better. He has not taken into account how painful it is for me and how I will probably just revert back to my 'role'.

cleopatrasasp It is slowly sinking in. I was told by my last counsellor that I have to grieve for the family I did not have. The problem is I have this feeling of aloneness. I find it hard to make friends as why would anyone want to be friends with me? right! I feel that if I walk away completely that I will be totally alone in this world. I know I'm not really but it taking a lot to convince me.

BookieMonster Mon 17-Jun-13 11:51:09

It sounds like you're all being set up. No doubt there are questions being asked about why they have no contact with you. If they engineer a scene at the wedding, they'll be able to justify to themselves and their audience why your relationship is as it is.
Don't go.

mummytime Mon 17-Jun-13 14:12:45

I would suggest you talk to someone RL, maybe Women's aid, to see if your view of your relationship with your DH is correct. Because he sounds a bit naff to me, after all the wedding vows say "For better for worse, for richer for poorer".

You need to put your foot down and decline the invitation then tell him none of you are going, don't negotiate, you know its the right thing.

But I would contact the sister personally and talk to her about the whole situation. I would probably start by asking "Did you really want me at your wedding?" A but of bluntness is what is needed here; you can tell from her response what her real feelings were.

springytat Mon 17-Jun-13 15:38:39

Really sorry to hear you're in such a mess at the mo Lionessy . Not surprising with your history ((( )))

Keep going though. It's long haul, and you'll be working on it for the rest of your life one or another; but when you finally leave them behind, when you are finally free of them in your head and heart - well, nothing compares to the bliss. Truly, to be free of them for ever is absolutely wonderful.

I did hang on and hang on (for decades), hoping that somehow things would turn out alright, people would mellow, see the light etc. It simply doesn't happen and it's just so good to leave the stinking pile of shit that they are behind; knowing you didn't deserve it, you never did, that it was all their dysfunctional, toxic shit.

You know about projection, right? How people can focus on something and dump their shit on that? It has nothing to do with the focus, all to do with the dumper.

Hurts, mind xxx

springytat Mon 17-Jun-13 23:15:23

oops, 'such a mess' was a bit unhelpful! sorry blush

Lionessy Tue 18-Jun-13 19:36:05

springtat That's totally OK. It is a frigging mess.

OK I have had a return email from my mother stating that the reason she used to call me 'evil' and 'touched' when I was a kid was because I 'terrified her so much that she used to lock up all the knives at night' (she knows that I have suffered terribly from OCD intrusive thoughts concerning my fear that I may go crazy and harm someone). She did not elaborate on why I terrified her or what I had done. She wrote that she did not want me to know about it but I had opened the 'Pandora's Box'.

She also said that I was never happy unless I was doing something nasty and spiteful to my siblings. That's why they don't bother with me.

'you would do almost anything to annoy your brothers and sisters and seemed to take pleasure when you realized that you had got through to them, the rule that everybody would stay at the table until everybody had finished was taken by you as one of the ways you would get through to them as you were always the last to finish' So it was not that I was forced to eat meat that I hated then and was made to sit at the table until my plate was completely clear!

Opinions please! The first bit has really fucked with my head due to my OCD/panic/anxiety. I was convinced I was a nutter, I have only recently started accepting that I am a good person. My mother has now confirmed that I always was fucked upsad.

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