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What to do about sister?

(17 Posts)
CailinDana Wed 06-Nov-13 18:41:50

I have a sister who's 14 months older. We were close when we were little - played all the time with occasional normal fight. But as we grew older she began terrorising me and our younger sister who was born when she was 8 and I was 7. When I say terrorising I mean constant non stop bullying to the extent that when I was about 15 I got so fed up I told her I would only respond to her if she said something friendly or nice. It's telling that from then until I left home at 22 we hardly spoke. She continued terrorising younger sis until she left home 18 months ago. Older sis (now aged 32) still lives with my parents. Younger sis and I are very close. She actually hates older sis which considering she is very mild mannered and kind says a lot.
I now live in the UK while parents and older sis are in Ireland. We have tried to build a relationship in the past without much success.
Here is where it gets complicated. I was sexually abused by a family friend as a child and I suspect older sis was too. If she was it would have been around the time she became impossible to live with. Bearing this in mind with a bit of distance I have become quite sorry for her. She is very insecure and that is what drives a lot if her behaviour. I worry that she will end up living with my parents till they die and then be totally alone.
I visited her and my parents recently and she seems to be making changes. She's got herself a new job in her desired field and was really good with my kids (where before she was quite disengaged). Today she sent me a chatty text (literally the first one in at least 3 years) and I sent a chatty reply. After a few back and forth texts she sent one saying we should be in contact more and be friends like we used to be (when?) and leave the past behind. I said "of course" at the time but I'm unsure.
On the one hand how she treated me and my sister still angers me and I feel letting her into my life is a mistake. On the other I feel very sorry for her and still hope things can genuinely be better between us. Confused.
Any thoughts? Feel free to ask qjestions if anything isn't clear.

lalalonglegs Wed 06-Nov-13 19:07:18

I think if she was abused as you were, then you have to make some allowances for her behaviour. Did anyone know about your abuse? Were you given attention/help because of it that perhaps she felt she deserved as well?

CailinDana Wed 06-Nov-13 19:18:58

Lala- I said nothing to my parents about it till I talked to my mother when I was 19. Some of what she said then indicated she knew about it at the time but did nothing other than cut contact with the friend. The fact that she knew is what led me to think something happened with my sister. My mother's response when I was 19 was basically shut up and get over it.

brokenhearted55a Wed 06-Nov-13 19:31:29

I let my sister back into my life last year and nothing changed. It wasn't worth it. I cut contact again.

TossedSaladsAndScrambledEggs Wed 06-Nov-13 19:35:58

I feel desperately sorry for you both. Your mother's reaction was appalling. Have you sought help externally since?

CailinDana Wed 06-Nov-13 19:55:46

I have, tossed. I had a lot of my own problems due to it but I've sorted a lot of that out. My mother's response was indeed shit.

lalalonglegs Wed 06-Nov-13 19:59:24

Well, it doesn't sound like jealousy but perhaps anger and trauma (if it happened). She could, of course, just have got herself into a very destructive pattern of behaviour and not been mature enough to have worked out a way of turning it around. I'd be willing to give her at least a half chance - the new job and everything sounds as if she is trying to change.

I'm struck by the fact that she's still living at home while you and your sister have both moved out.

Back2Two Wed 06-Nov-13 20:05:53

I really feel for you....this is one of those situations when you wish the heavens would open and someone would just tell you the RIGHT thing to do.

But, that's never going to happen so I think you need to trust in your self and add up what you stand to gain and what you stand to sacrifice.

I feel so sorry for you as little girls and I feel saddened (not shocked) that your mum chose not to treat the abuse as a serious matter.

You have survived and are emotionally stable (and happy?)
You have a good relationship with your other sister .......would that suffer if you invited the elder sister into your life?

And, feeling sorry for someone is a difficult base for an equal, mutually supportive relationship.

Perhaps you could encourage her to open up about the possible abuse....to someone else maybe and to sort through some issues prior to you two (three) getting involved again? You shouldn't be the one to help her through her own sorting out of the past or providing her with security. She needs to do that herself....and to apologise to you and your sister.

CailinDana Wed 06-Nov-13 20:10:18

I'm inclined to agree lala. She's only had one proper relationship with a wonderful guy which ended due to some very toxic friends that she's still with. When she was with him she was like a different person.

AnandaTimeIn Wed 06-Nov-13 21:24:40

I worry that she will end up living with my parents till they die and then be totally alone.

You cannot carry the whole burden of your dysfunctional family on you.

^ She's only had one proper relationship with a wonderful guy which ended due to some very toxic friends that she's still with. When she was with him she was like a different person.^

At the end of the day, you cannot tell your sister how to live her life.

Because she will not thank you for it and just go about her own way anyway.

What is it in your own life - what are you avoiding? - that makes you stress about other's (your sister)?

Vivacia Wed 06-Nov-13 21:36:57

What, if any, kind of a relationship would you like to have with your sister?

EyeOfNewtBigtoesOfFrog Wed 06-Nov-13 21:56:12

I can relate to a lot of your story. I have a sister who I've had a dreadful relationship with for a long time and the backstory also involves sexual abuse that was minimised. Our difficult childhood has messed up a whole lot of things and made for a very fractured and dysfunctional family even now.

However, I also think the abuse can also act as a red herring in that it can be seen that something that we both went through and that knowing how it was binds us together. I actually resent that because I think I'm a very, very different person from my sister in a lot of ways, and part of my problem arises from her thinking we were really close, and me really not liking her but having to suppress it. A history of abuse may explain some things, but it doesn't mean you're obliged to forgive everything or put up with any old kind of treatment IYSWIM.

I haven't taken quite the same route as you as I tolerated a lot of controlling and needy behaviour from my sister up until a few years ago, when having my own children made me really put my foot down with certain family members. I decided to put my own DC first and stop treading on eggshells around my sister and having all my energy drained by her. Of course it didn't go down well at all and now we barely speak, which suits me fine in itself but I also feel guilty and sorry for her.

So it's kind of the other way round. But I would say you showed a lot of strength and self-preservation by standing up to your sister when you did, at such a young age - I wish I had been able to do that. You're now in the position of having her want to make it up, but you hold the cards. I think that means you can (if you want to) welcome her very cautiously, take it very slowly and if there's any sign of her not treating you with respect or being overly needy, you can back off and/or explain that you aren't up for any of that.

One thing that concerns me is that your sister seems to need your parents - but she was OK when she had a man - and now she's approaching you. It suggests she leans very heavily on whoever is closest to help prop her up. You don't want to end up with an unbearable level of responsibility for her emotionally, and that's why I would tread carefully.

EyeOfNewtBigtoesOfFrog Wed 06-Nov-13 22:04:52

What is it in your own life - what are you avoiding? - that makes you stress about other's (your sister)?

This sounds a little harsh and it may not be as simple as that.

There is a huge amount of pressure on people to be nice to family and sometimes that clashes with the fact that some family members are extremely difficult. That in itself can get you tied up in knots. For me, I've had plenty of issues to deal with myself, but my problems with my sister were there whatever was going on in my own life. If I had her in my life, she was a PITA and a drain on me. But if I avoided her, I felt like I was guilty of being the mean, unfriendly sister leaving her to rot when she has a lot of problems herself.

I think the OP is trying to deal with something similar and it isn't necessarily anything to do with what's going on on her life.

CailinDana Wed 06-Nov-13 22:37:50

I can see why you would ask that Amanda but honestly I have no intention of telling her what to do or sorting out her problems. I only mention those things to explain why I think she is the way she is and to show why I think she is capable of being a better friend.
Vivacia I would like a friendly relationship with her, where we keep in touch and show interest in each other's lives. Nothing more than that really.
She isn't a needy person, she's more harsh and critical. But she can also be great fun. I feel all three of us were let down badly by our parents. It was only when I moved (far) away from them that my life improved dramatically. The same seems to be true of younger sis. Older sis has never had the chance. But perhaps that process of breaking away from them is starting to happen? Hard to say I suppose.

Onefewernow Wed 06-Nov-13 23:54:57

I think you need to trust yourself going forward that nobody can insult or bully you.

Therefore be her friend, and trust that she will be nice. People change and grow up. The past is the past.

BUT the first time she bullies you, if that happens, or she is rude, call her on it. If she repeats. Then you know to move on.

Glowbuggy Thu 07-Nov-13 01:33:13

I think maybe some allowances could be made for your sister, what a horrific thing to happen to you both and you've both reacted differently. Maybe this is her way of reaching out finally?

I would not make allowances for your fucking dickhead mother though.

All the best x

CailinDana Thu 07-Nov-13 14:32:53

I think I'll do that, onefewer.

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