To not really 'forgive' my sister(47 Posts)
Bit of backgrounds, my sister had a really bad drug problem when she was younger, took over our families lives from me being about 15, lots of drama and heart ache. She stole from the family, put my parents through hell, and childish though it sounds now took all the parental time and attention. She has three kids, none of whom can live with her, and although is off drugs now, does not act totally 'normal' for want of a better word, makes bad boyfriends choices and is exhausting to be around as is very repetitive and self centred. We don't live in the same place, and get on ok when we see each other (very rarely when she visits me with my mum) so I am not NC but I maintain no real independent sisterly relationship as I just don't really like her they much as a person. Saying I haven't forgiven is actually probably quite strong, as I no longer have any particular strong feelings and just live my own life, but I do feel that she negatively affected my life hugely and I just have no desire to have a deeper relationship. She on the other hand always tries to get deep and meaningful, saying she wants a close sister relationship and wants to visit me on her own and etc. She kind of has no social awareness and will outright invite herself to which I act totally non commitall, and she will put my mum in am awkward position asking why I don't want her to stay etc. She'll text me or start going into a monologue when I see her about her she's changed and is doing everything she can to make it up to everyone but to me really it's just words and comes across as self pity. So, am I bring unreasonable and harsh to just want to keep a distant relationship and wish she'd just drop it? Sorry, turned really really long!
I don't think its selfish of you to want to keep your distance but I do think you need to be upfront about it.
Just be honest with her the next time she brings it up.
Honestly she sounds awful. Do you think she has a personality disorder or similar? Anyway, it's okay to only want to spend time with people you like or love.
I think there might well be something wrong with her. A lot of people self medicate when their illness goes undiagnosed. There are a lot of flags from her behaviour that may illustrate a more deep seated problem.
However, all that said, she has affected your life very negatively and with or with out a condition or mental illness that will have consequences. I think I would keep a wary distance but not cut her off completely as you have already done I guess.
Thanks for the replies. Sorry I don't know how to do that thing which highlights posters names! Yes I do think she has mental health problems, and I do have some sympathy but awful though it sounds it is hard to be sympathetic when it's made my own life do hard in ways. She also has form for lying, I'm pretty sure at one point she lied about having cancer. I still feel angry towards her for the negative impact she's had my Mum's life as well. Although I probably sound like a real bitch, I just don't think she's ever really made an effort to make thinks up, and all her conversation about doing do just feels very 'me me me'. But I recognise I might just be too influenced by part events and not giving enough of a chance. I appreciate the comment about been up front, but I just don't want a big confrontation, it must be obvious we're not going to ever have an amazing sister relationship.
No, YANBU . It's all very well "going into a monologue when I see her about her she's changed and is doing everything she can to make it up to everyone" - but you can't un-boil an egg. How she behaved in the past cannot be undone, and of course it shapes how you feel about her. And it's OK to want to keep her at arm's length.
I think I would be honest with her, tell her you're not simply do not feel close to her and that a relationship cannot be forced just because one of the people want it to be so. And if she pushes, then yes, I would say that my feelings towards her had been shaped by how hard she had made my adolescence, and that would alwaysbe the case.
Your feelings are valid.
I don't think you sound like a right birch at all Owl. I doubt very much that she has her own friends and others she can talk to, as she would probably have lost them when she was using drugs. The only people she has left are her family who are 'stuck' with her no matter what.
I think you are right to keep your distance after everything she has put you through. Don't let her make you feel guilty for it, and call her on it if you need to.
Thank you so much everyone, the replies are so lovely. I can see that she must beat herself up about the damage she's done, and that she just wants the fairytale image of an amazing fairytale sister relationship. I do have times when I do feel massive sympathy and empathy. But I've lost the sister relationship too, there were years when she disappeared for ages on end, no one knew if she was safe and at one point I worshipped her and she threw it a back at me. One time she stole my holiday money when I was about 16, which was at the time I still thought we were close sisters and it was devastating. My poor Mum has lost the chance to have a normal relationship with her grand children and suffered her own mental health issues over it all.
it must be obvious we're not going to ever have an amazing sister relationship
I don't think this is obvious to her. If it was, she wouldn't keep trying to visit on her own; have deep chats, etc. She possibly feels that you're punishing her and hence she has 'prove' to you how committed she is to having a better relationship with you. That is only going to end if you are upfront with her.
I have no idea whether or not it's reasonable to not forgive her. What I would say is that it sounds as though she still has quite a lot of influence on your life if you're thinking about whether you're right or wrong; and you're concerned enough about it to post here. Have you had counselling to deal with the impact her addiction had on you and the family? Growing up in such an unsettled environment will obviously have impacted on you and on your view of relationships, boundary setting, etc.
Your comment is very perceotive placeonthecouch (sorry don't know how to tag!) as I agree she does probably think I'm 'punishing' her and she can make it up. Unfortunately, her version of 'making up' is the harking to the past and monologues while mine is..... I don't actually really know! Think I just want her to be 'normal' but despite been off drugs she still has a shit man in her life and causes various other dramas. Mind you, having said she's off drugs, I've recently received dodgy texts from her bloke on her number that sound like he's dealing which doesn't exactly inspire me into a stronger relationship! I haven't really had counselling, I often do think I should I do have a tendency to bury my feelings.
It's interesting that you don't know what it would look like if she made up for the past. I think it can sometimes feel impossible for someone to right a wrong that caused so much hurt at such a formative stage in your development.
When there is a volatile, demanding person in a family, it plays havoc with boundaries ime. Instead of learning when to walk away and how to put firm boundaries in place, you learn to bury your emotions and hurt, and to question your own judgement about what is appropriate. Personally I found two things helped : a counsellor (she helped me see how shoddy my boundaries were and where that stemmed from); I read 'Blink'. The latter probably seems odd but it's about how we make decisions and having knowledge of my decision making process helped me to have more faith in it.
This really has struck a chord, burying my feelings absolutely describes me to a tee. When it was going on when I was a teenager, I was so utterly ashamed, I just wanted a normal family and so wouldn't really talk about it with friends, and I suppose didn't want to bother my parents. I felt the shame over it for a long time, still do I suppose, normal chat about families is really awkward when you have nephews in foster care! I'm working with someone who knew my sister at school, asking how she is, does she have kids etc. What do you say! It doesn't help that my Dad was a borderline / functioning alcoholic who was pretty detached from family life, and we lost him young. I've dealt with it by pushing it all down and just building my own 'normal' life, and in a lot of ways I do want to keep family at a distance to protect that.
And sorry was is 'Blink'? I really recognise the decision making thing as well, I'm terrible!
I feel similar about dbro.
He wasn't on drugs but has always demanded full attention from mum and dad. Even now in his 40s. He ruined a weekend away I had with mum as he believed his wife should have been invited and tried to forbid mum from spending anytime with me unless his wife was also present.
Whenever my parents have plans they are ruined by dbro having An emergency. Now he has kids, it's alway relates to the kids and always turns out to be nothing.
He and Sil are destroying mum and dad retirement with constant demands. He ruins all plans. Even on my wedding day (he wasn't with Sil) he had an epic strop because mum and dad were with me, on the morning, and he felt left out. This is despite the fact that he wanted to make his own way there and I had given him a plus 3 so he could invite his friends. It was a small wedding. That was 10% of the guess list.
I don't hate him. I feel ambivalent towards him. So much shit has gone on its damaged the close relationship we had when I was younger. It's not about forgiving. I just don't feel the same as I used to. He never apologises but does try to be lovely once he has been handed his ass over something. But he does the same again a few weeks later. He is very self absorbed and it's exhausting. I just don't have anything else to give.
You don't choose your family/siblings unfortunately.
She has been a negative influence on your life, but the experience of having HER as a sister will also have shaped you positively, like avoiding her type, making sure you don't end up like her, etc...
Its very sad that she's caused such problems for her kids/her mum/you but that is how life is.
You don't have to have a confrontation but its your RIGHT to not have anything to do with her... I would explain that to her.
She probably won't understand.
My DHs brother has been a heroin addict from about age 17 until now, although now I think he just gets meth from the chemist.
I find it hard to have any sort of relationship with him and I've known him only 10 years! He does the same- how much he has changed etc. firstly he hasn't, and secondly all these monologues are always inner looking. He never thinks 'what can I do to make it up to my family?'
I do see him at family events but he pushes for a closer relationship with my DH, who really couldn't give less of a shit about him. Sometimes things just can't be fixed.
No yanbu and agree with the pp who says sometimes things just can't be fixed.
You could have been writing about my sister who did some terrible things when she was younger including stealing my mums credit cards, dead nan's jewellery, getting someone to burgle our house to share the profits amongst a lot of other things. I have memories of sitting upstairs on my own all day on Christmas day when I was about 8 or 9 as the police were there all day. She ran away when she was 16 and refused to come back and I heard from her again when she was 28 acting as if nothing ever happened, wouldn't apologise saying those things were in the past. She's also tried to contact me through fb.
I feel very sad to have no siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins for my kids etc (she has 5 kids) but what's the point? I've realised it would bring nothing but negativity to my life so have to let it go. I think you have to think of yourself here and what is best for you.
Does she have a personality disorder? Borderline perhaps?
In your shoes I think I'd tell her that a lot has happened. You felt your feelings were not respected by her for a long period. The best way forward for you would be for her to respect your feelings now and step back and allow your relationship to develop naturally over a much longer period. Intense contact and heavy discussions might be what she wants but it isn't helping you; it's forced closeness and you aren't in that place. Remind her that for you actions speak louder than words, so it'll be seeing her live a good life, giving you space and respecting the people you both care about in the long term that will repair your relationship, not some sort of cathartic discussion and instant moment of forgiveness.
Write something short to that effect in a nice card, while wishing her well.
Her reaction will tell you something I suppose about whether she really is ready to behave like a responsible adult.
Sympathies op - I get what you mean about not knowing what 'her making it up to you' would look like. My mother was a horrible bitch to me and my sister in our formative years, but came over all remorseful later on
after we'd left and she realised we never voluntarily got in touch. She would go on and on about how she was trying to 'make up for it' but got steadily more and more openly resentful of the fact that I couldn't be easy around her; the tension in me went bone-deep and her presence was very difficult for me. I didn't have the balls to refuse contact as that would have be viewed as terribly melodramatic of me and disproportionate to the offence; there was also a family attitude that I should have got over it by now
Horrible to say, but it was a bit of a relief when she died. I knew I wouldn't have to deal with the fucked-up situation anymore and could just ring-fence it and try to move on, rather than reopening wounds at every fucking visit. I still miss her, but in more of a 'you were a big part of my life, albeit a bad one' way than a 'I love you mummy' one.
I like Aspergallus's approach, but be wary of how much information about yourself and your feelings you put in a letter or a conversation. She will probably remember any
usable personal detail and repeat it ad infinitum over the coming decades. Be careful with your personal information as there is a risk she'll get angry and resentful about you not having forgiven her 'yet' and so seek to hurt you with whatever snippets she can lay her hands on. It feels much worse when the snippets are true.
Yep I agree. Keep it short without any big outpouring from yourself -set the example.
I have had to deal with a similar person, who is now diagnosed as Borderline. It is horrendous diagnosis, not only for the lifelong suffering and anguish they live with, but the torment inflicted on the family. I often read posts on here and think people are not being nasty or selfish but reacting to their own extreme lack of self worth. Having said that I am currently being treated for PTSD as a result of an extreme episode of that person lasting 3 weeks. Someone here recommended the book 'I hate you, don't leave me'. Thank you. It is helping me. to you OP-I get you xx
Sounds to me that, whether or not your sister has actual MH problems, she is full of the Dramaz. They may be as a result of MH issues, or they may just be who she is - but you clearly can't be doing with the Dramaz, and want to stay well clear of them. I don't blame you for this at all, I'd be the same.
Whether or not your sister is ever truly clean of the drugs or not, I doubt she'll ever be clear of having Dramaz in her life - and I think that's one of the things that you are feeling instinctively, which is why you don't want to get sucked in again.
It's ok to not have a relationship with family members, you know, even if it is hurtful to others in the family - it's not ideal but it's ok. You have to do what is right for you, first and foremost. As it is, you are still having a relationship with her, but one that you can handle - that's fine. Let her carry on her own way, and you carry on with the way you're dealing with her.
You really don't have to like or love your family if they have done nothing but cause you grief, pain or upset all your life.
The 'but we're faaaaamily' shite can be extremely toxic and dysfunctional (as in 'we're family so we should take endless crap from people').
You are allowed to feel like you do, you are allowed not to see her or engage with her, you are allowed to go no contact if that's the best thing for you.
As long as you yourself are not causing drama about this for anyone else or being outright unkind to her or about her, let go of the guilt set yourself free
It's really OK for you not to forgive her. She doesn't seem to want to make much effort to put things right, does she? So what she's actually asking you to do is to say that your (imo, absolutely reasonable) anger and resentment don't matter because she's not using anymore. But the behaviour hasn't changed.
Sadly, I also had someone in my life like this - alcohol, not drugs - and though he's now in recovery, his DC will have nothing to do with him, because he wants to be constantly congratulated for not drinking, whilst still continuing to behave like a twat. It their eyes, it's how a person acts that matters, not the reason for those acts. I think it may be the same for you, OP; you saw the effect her behavior had on everyone around her, and no doubt ascribed it to the drugs. But she's still doing the same stuff, just without the excuse of being actively using.
I'd agree that she may well have some sort of MH issue, and that's a horrible burden for her to bear - but the way to deal with it is to acknowledge and get treatment and help, not to pretend it's OK to treat people badly because at least she's no longer actively using. You can't help her unless she asks for help with the problem (and you don't have to help her if she does - it's your choice), but that sounds a long way from what she's doing now. She's asking you to engage in the "let's talk about poor me, wasn't it terrible, I'm not like that now" and that in itself is ignoring your needs and wishes. I think that other posters are right that you can protect yourself by setting out, very briefly and in writing, why you don't want to engage and what she might do to help, then leave it in her hands.
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