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Navigating dysfunctional family - what should I do?

(43 Posts)

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pandarific Sun 06-Mar-16 14:33:12

This may be a long one, but it's all relevant to the current problem. Some of you might remember my Christmas post To hate my sister about my miserable Christmas staying at my mother's house in my home country, with my adult sister behaving awfully.

Unfortunately, it's still rumbling on.

In one of my posts on that thread I mentioned hiding in my mother's car on the driveway to get away from my sister, because she'd been following me around screaming at me. What happened in the leadup to that was this. My mother and I had been supposed to go into town shopping in the morning. When I got up that morning my sister was in the kitchen with my mum and dad, and I could see she she was in a bad mood and about to kick off, so I absented myself and went for a shower. In the shower I could hear raised voices, and when I got out it had escalated into screaming, so I got dressed, grabbed my bag and phone and just left the house. My mum met me in town several hours later and we did go shopping, though it wasn't exactly a happy atmosphere.

My sister had gone into town on her own, and met us to get a lift back home from my mum. I was very angry with her, but I didn't want a row. As we were getting out of the car back at the house, I said to her that I thought she needed psychological help - my honest opinion, based on her behaviour. She flew into a rage, started screaming at me how dare I insult her, etc etc, and when we got into the house she went straight into the kitchen to my mum. As I'm taking off my coat my mum then came out looking furious and said 'Apologise to your sister' I asked what I was supposed to be apologising for, she said for insulting her, I said, quite honestly, that I wasn't insulting her, my opinion was that her behaviour was very far from balanced or normal and that she needed some help.

So screaming and shouting from my sister, as I move around the kitchen trying to get something to eat, along the lines of 'HOW DARE YOU', and then she proceeded to rant and rave at me saying:
What would you know, LIVING ALONE IN ANOTHER COUNTRY [??]
At least I'm not living with SOME BOY THE SAME AGE AS [sister] [again, wtf? partner is a year and a half younger than me - not much in your 30s] who's too FAT AND LAZY to come visit her family at Christmas

My mother had gone into another room to avoid 'the row' - ie my sister being abusive to me, and my dad was ignoring it in another room, being the main target of my sister's abuse. At this point I stuck my fingers in my ears, grabbed my stuff and went to sit in the car. My mother came out twice to try to get me to come inside - because my old friend was coming to pick me up so we could go out for the evening, and my mum told me she didn't want my friend to see me sitting in the car and thinking there was trouble in our family. ...right.

My partner and I love each other very much, and are planning to get married and have children. His family are lovely. He didn't visit with me for christmas because he had bought a flat recently (which we both live in) and with having to unexpectedly remodel the whole thing once chipboard had been removed to reveal crumbling walls, simply did not have enough money for flights. My family had been told this well in advance of Christmas. We'd been calling and texting regularly, also because I was worried about visiting, as my sister had been awful the year before as well. So, I called him, and I told him everything. He was understandably pissed off. I managed not to see my sister again much until I left, but I was gutted and exhausted by it all.

Since then, the following has happened:
A few days later: My sister 'apologises' via text 'I'm sorry BUT you called me a name...'
I let my mum and sister know that my partner does know what happened.
My sister says I shouldn't have told him what she said as we were 'having a domestic' - um, no, she was following me around screaming abuse in my face.
My mother says 'family things are to be kept private' and blames me for 'causing upset' by telling him what happened. I tell her he is my partner and the man I am going to marry and that we keep no secrets from each other.
My mother reiterates that 'the row' was my fault because I called my sister names - FFS...

I asked my sister to apologise to my partner, either via text or a phonecall - neither of us would have hung on to it if she'd just apologised. I suspected she wouldn't as she honestly thinks she'd 'done nothing wrong' but she eventually said she would apologise. She never did - oh well.

The current problem is that it is her 30th birthday soon and yesterday my mother rang to tell me that she would like us all to go out to dinner, and can I and my partner come over to celebrate it. I said I could fly in on a saturday and back out on a sunday, flights are cheap and that would be fine. My mother then asked if my partner could come. I said probably not. She, in a tone of great shock, asked why. I answered that sister had never apologised to him, and he's still understandably a bit cross about it.

My mother then went off the deep end and told me that I had 'better fix this' as it was all my fault and I'd caused the whole thing by 'blabbing' to him what my sister had said, called me 'big mouth', the whole deal. I got angry and rang off. Cue profuse text apologies, she loves me very much, she will get my sister to apologise etc etc. My partner and I receive perfunctory apologies by text.

Today I sent her happy mother's day message, told her about flowers being delivered. She thanked me, mentioned that my sister had told her she had apologised, so all was okay now. She said then that 'being honest what kicked all this off was [partner] not coming for Christmas', but not to worry, it's all in the past!

I'm completely exhausted with all this. Can someone please tell me how it is possible in her mind that, even with all of the hideous behaviour my sister has behaved, it is all my fault? How is any of this my fault? Have I lost the plot, mumsnet? I'm sad. I feel like I do everything right, am a nice and loving person, and my mother basically cares about me about one quarter as much as she cares about my sister. I can tell that my mum is really pissed off with me, and I just feel it's so incredibly unfair.

Another aspect to the drama is that partner and I have decided that we've stood up to them now, so we will go to visit for the dinner. I'm very worried about our staying in my mother's house as this gives sister the perfect trapped audience if she decides to go off on one, but equally I know my mother will be upset if I book into a hotel nearby, and she's already angry with me for 'causing upset'.

God I'm tired. Sorry this is so long, I'm just so confused and exhausted by it all.

attheendoftheday Sun 06-Mar-16 14:59:37

Don't stay in the house again.

Cut contact with your sister.

(But the "You need psychological help" line definitely sounds like it was delivered in a way meaning to hurt and insult, so not surprised she objected to that).

SquinkiesRule Sun 06-Mar-16 15:09:18

Don't stay in the same house as your sister, thats just asking for it all to kick off again. I wouldn't go for the dinner either, but thats me.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee Sun 06-Mar-16 15:11:20

I don't understand why she had to apologise to your partner
Apologise to you certainly but why him he wasn't even there

LaPharisienne Sun 06-Mar-16 15:14:44

Interact with your family to the extent you can and it still be positive. Beyond that, don't. Resist all emotional entreaties to do otherwise firmly and politely.

It's the best thing about being an adult! You have control. Good luck though - I know how stressful intense family situations can be.

MustTryHarder856 Sun 06-Mar-16 15:17:03

I also don't get why you wanted her to apologise to your partner for upsetting you??

hedgehogsdontbite Sun 06-Mar-16 15:25:20

Sorry but you both sound as bad as each other.

Your comment about her needing help needing help sounds quite snide and I'm not surprised she kicked off. You were in the wrong.

You sister insulting you DP and raging at you is OTT. She was in the wrong.

You insisting she apologise to your DP who was even there is weird. Telling your DP details about it is shit stirring and guaranteed to result in hostilities continuing between the three of you.

Then you're sniping about the quality of her apology when she does finally do it.

If I were your mother I'd be finding it hard to resist the urge to bang your heads together.

pandarific Sun 06-Mar-16 15:27:06

Sorry - to clarify, when in the car I told my partner what she had said about him. he and I wanted her to apologise to him.

MaudGonneMad Sun 06-Mar-16 15:29:38

But he wasn't in the car. He was in another country confused

pandarific Sun 06-Mar-16 15:45:54

I know Maud. But she was being abusive about him and said a lot of vicious and untrue things about him. Whether he was there or not she did attack him and tbh she is abusive to my mother and gets away with it, she is abusive to my father, and gets away with it. She is abusive to me and mine... and I just can't accept it and let it slide. It's just not okay, and I didn't want to minimise it.

Maybe I'm being U, it's just such galling behaviour when he's never been anything but lovely to her, and as you point out, wasn't even there!

pandarific Sun 06-Mar-16 15:51:47

I realise I might have been wrong to tell her she needs help in the way I did, but what is a nice way to tell someone that they need professional help? I honestly did not say it in a 'tone' or based on that one incident that morning - she was really awful for four days, across the whole Christmas period. It was awful

Hobbes8 Sun 06-Mar-16 15:57:04

I think you should ask to get this moved to relationships, OP. You're already getting an AIBU-style nitpicking hard time, whereas it seems to me you want some genuine advice about how to handle a difficult situation.

Good luck. It sounds hideous.

Hissy Sun 06-Mar-16 15:57:53

Why do you insist on allowing them to pull you closer and closer so they can hurt you again and again?

MyFriendGoo52 Sun 06-Mar-16 16:01:26

The op isnt being 'snide' at all.

I have a sister like this, everything was always someone elses fault. Her husband would defend her outbursts to the hilt.

Things started to get worse and she started to lash out at people outside of the family, something happened last year and she finally flipped. The.full works. Her poor husband spent Christmas sleeping in his car (( still covering up for her )) police were regularly called as she was.attacking her husband and trashing her house. Not because she's a bad person, but because she was ill. And has been for years.

She's been seeing a psychiatrist for a while now and whilst she's still hard work is starting to get somewhere. Just a shame it hadnt happened years ago instead of everyone tip toeing about and making excuses for her.

MyFriendGoo52 Sun 06-Mar-16 16:05:02

It is not fucking normal for adults to behave in that way.

Really do not see the issue in pointing that out to people who behave in certain ways in the.hope they will do something about it. In my sisters case it was reaching rock bottom (( basically everyone told her to stay the hell away )) when she finally did something about it.

Hissy Sun 06-Mar-16 16:06:17

Just get off his drama bus, it's exhausting to read and I dare say excruciating to live.

You don't have to go back there, again, or even ever. Focus on your own life and I can guarantee you'll be a lot happier.

Neither your mother nor your sister have the right to terrorise you.

Hissy Sun 06-Mar-16 16:08:37

I agree too that this needs to be in relationships not aibu

You need proper support in this, not the usual behaviour from some of the resident the haven't got a clue AIBU brigade.

StDogolphin Sun 06-Mar-16 16:16:42

I think you are the family scape goat and your sisters behaviour is accommodated to make life easier for everyone. I don't know how your deal with it but it sounds awful and I really feel for you. I suppose you need a plan, depending on what you want. Do you want to cut contact with your sister or your sister and family, or do you want to mend your relationship with your sister and family? I am not sure if the latter is possible if they are not able to behave.

pandarific Sun 06-Mar-16 16:18:15

Thanks Hobbes, Hissy and Myfriend, I'll ask for this to be moved.

Bunbaker Sun 06-Mar-16 16:19:49

I'm struggling to understand why you told your partner what your sister said about him. Teenagers do that sort of thing. It is called shit stirring.

OH and my sister aren't the best of friends, but I don't tell each of them what the other one says about them. It is hurtful and childish.

LineyReborn Sun 06-Mar-16 16:21:49

Don't go. Seriously, don't go there again.

shutupandshop Sun 06-Mar-16 16:24:58

Why has your dp bought a flat? Why haven't you bought it together?confused

shutupandshop Sun 06-Mar-16 16:26:53

Go nc with ds and dp if they aren't supportive of this. Life is short.

BeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 06-Mar-16 16:38:38

Hi all - we're going to move this over to Relationships at the OPs request.

TheCrimsonPleb Sun 06-Mar-16 16:48:33

it all sounds awful. If I was you I would be looking to distance myself from the drama. Only visit when you absolutely have to, keep visits short, don't get involved in arguments or debates, don't even venture an opinion on anything going on between her and your mum (like the car thing). You need to protect yourself only. Leave her and your parents to it. They will accuse you of being cold and cruel but really you are just not jumping into the well scripted family drama and saving yourself a lot of hurt and frustration. You don't have to please them, you can't fix them. Just prioritise yourself and grow a thick skin and a deaf ear.

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