Talk

Advanced search

To be unsure whether to reestablish contact with sister who cut me off

(32 Posts)
wrappedupinmyselflikeaspool Sun 19-Mar-17 10:09:21

Hi, first time I've started a thread here.
My younger sister dumped me by email about 10 years ago after an argument. To say I was heartbroken is an understatement. We had a difficult upbringing with an alcoholic mother who often neglected us and put us at risk. My older sister was of an age where she could go out and escape so it fell to me to take care of her quite often. As a result she felt more like my child than my sister.
The pain at the time was unbearable. I actually did contemplate taking my own life quite seriously. I have two DS one small at the time so thankfully I didn't act on this impulse. When she fell out with me she was pregnant and I thought she might just be feeling emotional/finding it difficult and things would sort themselves out but she would not talk to me properly about what the problem was and still hasn't/won't. As far as I know, she fell out with me because I was cross with her about something she did that was pretty thoughtless. Just normal stuff really. So it seems maybe it was an excuse to cut me off and this had been building for a while. What's really confusing though is that she had always been really affectionate and loving, coming to my house regularly, telling me all her problems, sharing her successes etc.
There was a fashion around then to go 'no contact' or call people toxic and cut them off and I wonder if this was part of that. She was going through some stuff herself and I took the brunt?
She said at the time I was a bully. That really hurt. I definitely had too much of the parent in our relationship but bully's want to hurt people and I would have taken a bullet for her. If it I was true that I was bossing her around, which is entirely possible, why was she always visiting me and asking for advice? I'd love to have an actual proper talk about this maybe with relate? But she doesn't was to resolve the problem and doesn't want me it seems.
The first year or so I tried to keep some contact going with cards and presents etc. but after bursting into tears in the post office while wrapping a Christmas present for my little niece who I'd only seen once or twice I wondered if I ought to start protecting myself from the pain. Since then I haven't bothered and always hoped she might contact me at some point but ten years have passed.
She once sent me a business card to tell me that she's set herself up as an 'energy healer' I think because she thought I might need some healing (?) this made me feel slightly better because if she's a bit of a crank maybe I don't need to take it to heart so much but still, I miss her. Or I miss who I thought she was, because maybe I was wrong about that? No idea whether to just let the situation continue or try to resolve it. More pain for me maybe? She doesn't want to see me or she'd ask. Any thoughts or advice are much appreciated

Huldra Sun 19-Mar-17 10:34:02

I don't think a bully always wants to hurt, or can recognise thats what they are doing.

Sometimes people can lash out because they are consumed by their own hurt, being critical can give them a little short term relief. It's like telling themselves it's ok to be angry or short tempered because look that person did that to me. It's their fault and they deserve it. They may even convince themselves that correcting and advice is being really helpful. The same can be said for controlling and micro managing behaviour. The person giving the constant stream of advice and instructions can't always see that's what they are doing.

StillDrivingMeBonkers Sun 19-Mar-17 10:37:52

I would normally suggest writing to her BUT be prepared that the answer quite possibly may be one you may not want to hear.

It's also difficult to resolve things objectively. "Blame" gets apportioned even if you are careful with language and think you have avoided personal accusations.

Is there not a third party, an aunt or close mutual friend who might be able to mediate?

Boulshired Sun 19-Mar-17 10:59:31

My mother and father were to blame for the dynamics in the relationship between myself and DB. Although he was the older it became clear my parents wanted me to become the financial go to rather than them. It changed the equality of siblings and led to resentment on both sides. I do no know if we could even go back to being siblings.

Huldra Sun 19-Mar-17 11:01:15

A 3rd party would be best.

Are there aspects of that original email that have truth in them? You say it's possible you were bossing her around, could you do a straight apology for that and open a door? But not expecting her to apologise straight back. It sounds as if it was a difficult childhood for the both of you, with tricky dynamics with you having to play parent whilst being young yourself. It would be surprising if you both didn't fuck up at some point.

Yes, it is possible for someone to keep visiting whilst building up resentment. I've been that person, I kept trying and ignoring until they pushed me too far. The other person probably felt the pushing was fine because I kept coming back.

The word toxic may be newish but no contact isn't. My fil hasn't spoken to his brother since his 20s. Growing up I would sometimes hear from a friend about some long standing rift in the family. With the Internet we may hear about these things more but I doubt if there is a fashion for no contact! If you want to find a way forward blaming the situation on a silly fashion will hinder and not help.

Good luck, these situations can be heart breaking and tricky to resolve.

wrappedupinmyselflikeaspool Sun 19-Mar-17 11:50:15

Thanks for all your comments.

Huldra, yes I can see that, but is the reasonable response, when that person is your sister, to cut them off for ever? Why not just say "stop micro managing, stop telling me what to do, I'm not a kid, it really does my head in' the. I would have had a chance to correct that behavior, which is after all just a left over from my having to take responsibility for her when we were kids.

Still and Huldra, I tried asking my other sister to intervene, explaining how distressing I was finding it but it's not a supportive family (apart from me and my younger sister, or so I thought)

Yes, I did apologize at first, I should have explained that. I managed to get her on the phone by persisting, which she didn't like, and asked her if she could explain exactly what it was that I had done wrong. She brought up a different argument from the past, which is a long story, when she was about to spend her life savings on bailing our mother out. I didn't think this was a good idea as I knew our mother would just end up in the same situation down the line so it would be her hard earned money wasted. It was an extremely stressful situation, long story. DS didn't want to listen to my advice (that she'd asked for) and I lost my rag and shouted at her down the phone.

In my apology I said, yes you are right, I shouldn't shout at you, I'm sorry for that. I couldn't have been any clearer. Didn't make any difference at all. In fact it only confirmed her belief that I am evil and she is lovely it seems to me, from what I heard afterwards.

wrappedupinmyselflikeaspool Sun 19-Mar-17 12:00:30

Just wanted to add, I do think there was a fashion a while ago, perpetuated by internet chat and online cod psychology forums around cutting people off and then being very smug about it. These things are part of culture and emerge in movements. I have fallen out with people badly myself when I was younger and felt very self righteous about it so I know where this is coming from.

I have had quite a lot of professional psychotherapy and also was a member of a self help group for 7 years so I'm not without self awareness.
I loved my sister so much but I'm not sure I love her now. This is why I am so conflicted. I'd like to resolve the problem and have some limited contact just for practical reasons but I can't think of anything crueller than cutting someone off who you know loves you for so many years without any warning or explanation and without any chance to try to resolve the problem. I'm not sure she really is the lovely person I thought she was.

PutTheBunnyBackInTheBox Sun 19-Mar-17 12:23:12

I do think there was a fashion a while ago, perpetuated by internet chat and online cod psychology forums around cutting people off and then being very smug about it.

So you're saying she was 'coerced' into NC? To me this sounds as though you aren't taking responsibility for your part in her wanting to break contact. Maybe it's easier for you to blame this 'fashion' rather than look at why she came to this decision?

She once sent me a business card to tell me that she's set herself up as an 'energy healer' I think because she thought I might need some healing (?) this made me feel slightly better because if she's a bit of a crank maybe I don't need to take it to heart so much

And now you've called her a crank hmm

You do seem to be very dismissive of her wants (and maybe a bit controlling?). No one should feel they have to have a relationship or have contact with someone they don't want to. She obviously has her reasons even if you don't agree with them and she is entitled to feel the way she does. Just going by what you have posted so far, maybe you should be honest about your relationship and let her have time to herself if that's what she wants.

Sorry if that comes across as harsh, I don't mean it to. flowers

wrappedupinmyselflikeaspool Sun 19-Mar-17 12:31:43

Put the bunny
No I don't think she was coerced, but I know she was searching for some answers to life, the universe everything, and might have been swept along by this.

Her 'Energy healing' includes healing people by email. If this is not cranky I don't know what is. I just mean that I took it very much to heart what she did and said and maybe she's not actually that sensible, so I need to take that into account.

Yes your post does come across as harsh but so do all the others. I know it is her choice who she has a relationship with, but I think what she did was unnecessarily cruel. Seems most people don't agree. Maybe it's common this cutting people off? I don't think I'll ever be on board with it.

No answers so far then. I still don't know whether to try approach her again or not.

P1nkP0ppy Sun 19-Mar-17 12:43:15

I doubt if you'll ever know the truth op; one of my sisters fell out with her twin 20 years ago (and no one knows why) and towards the end of last year cut my DH, DCs and I out. Not the foggiest idea why, perfectly friendly one week then incommunicado the next. No birthday, Christmas or Anniversary cards, I sent cards/presents, no response. Tried phoning (put phone down as soon as heard my voice), no reply to emails, has changed mobile phone number.

I give up.

DiseasesOfTheSheep Sun 19-Mar-17 12:45:04

Her 'Energy healing' includes healing people by email. If this is not cranky I don't know what is

Whilst in principle I agree on this score, I think that this attitude is probably unhelpful if you wish to have any sort of relationship with your sister, who, presumably, would not agree with you on this.

You don't seem able to respect her approach to life, and I can understand why people cut others out of their lives in this situation. It may be harsh on you, but one would imagine it's also hard when the people who are close to you don't support or respect you or your life choices.

As for whether you should contact her, nobody can answer that but you. Contact her if you wish, modify your behaviour if you can (and want to) and accept her decision either way.

PutTheBunnyBackInTheBox Sun 19-Mar-17 12:54:29

Sorry wrapped but you've, again, described her as a bit of a crank and not actually that sensible. I'm just finding that a bit shock
And you may not feel she was coerced but you think she may have been "swept along". Again, you're dismissing her actions and therefore her feelings and reasons for NC.

And I did answer your question. Respect her wishes and let her have time apart from you if that's what she wants.

Justanothernameonthepage Sun 19-Mar-17 13:00:12

Woah she told you she needed space and no contact and you harassed her into talking to you? No wonder she didn't like it. I have some sympathy as I'm the eldest of three and did sometimes catch myself being bossy, but at no point did I need to have them point it out as I realised it and worked on it before it became an issue. But the fact that you completely ignored her wishes and bullied her into talking to you, suggests she's right to not allow you her contact details as long as there are other family members who can contact her in case of family emergencies. I don't think going No Contact should be a first resort, but I don't think anyone should be forced to interact with people who demean/bully/abuse them.

Justanothernameonthepage Sun 19-Mar-17 13:08:05

But no. It's her choice whether to get back in contact with you. The best thing you can do is to respect her right to not include you in her life. If you really feel the need to take action, the write a letter telling her that you miss and love her and would be willing to have contact on her terms and put it to one side in case she ever makes the first move. You shouldn't involve anyone else into trying to convince her to see you. (That leaves the possibility that she'd feel she has to cut them off as well).

funnylikeaclown Sun 19-Mar-17 13:14:56

I would leave it until/unless she gets in touch to reestablish contact. Your relationship is obviously complex and if she feels that she can't deal with seeing then it's best to respect that or face a lot more hurt.

JoeyJoeJoeJuniorShabadu Sun 19-Mar-17 13:19:44

I wouldn't dream of contacting her.

Haffdonga Sun 19-Mar-17 13:26:26

I agree with PP that you need to respect her boundaries. If she wants NC then she should have NC. Except that she sent you her business card. Was that before she cut contact with you? Because if it was afterwards it does seem like an opening of contact (that you didn't respond to?) .

I agree that email healing is quite 'out there' and BS which makes her sound quite vulnerable and impressionable. This alone would make me question whether her decision was fully thought through.

Softkitty2 Sun 19-Mar-17 13:33:32

I always say why force yourself on people who do not bother with you. It's a shame really. You can try to hwve contact one last time and if not reciprocated just let go, wish her well and move on

Huldra Sun 19-Mar-17 13:48:29

I wasn't trying to be harsh flowers or anything, these situations can be so complicated. Seeing as you have tried an apology I agree with justanothernames last post.

I'm leaving aside the rights and wrongs of her going no contact at the moment as I don't know her, or you, or the reality of situation at the time. She may be totally in the wrong for all I know, you may be, it's both of you equally. It could be one of those situations where

In your mind I've gone to great lengths to get her to communicate, aplogized for the past and have asked what I did wrong.

To her I've been coerced into a phone call and then demanded to justify myself. I was in a fluster, put on the spot and had to search around in my head for reasons.

You think you are doing right, she could see someone being controlling. Again, the details of who is right and wrong I can't say and don't want to. If you do have another chance to communicate then I think just saying simply sorry for your own actions may be the way to go. Avoid reasons and justifications or you will be back where started, or worse.

Graphista Sun 19-Mar-17 13:52:16

In the interests of fairness I should first say I'm Nc with my sister.


"My younger sister dumped me by email about 10 years ago after an argument." yet later you say there was 'no reason' here's at least one

"We had a difficult upbringing with an alcoholic mother who often neglected us and put us at risk. My older sister was of an age where she could go out and escape so it fell to me to take care of her quite often. As a result she felt more like my child than my sister." that's down to your mother not her


"The pain at the time was unbearable. I actually did contemplate taking my own life quite seriously." I doubt she was finding it easy either

"When she fell out with me she was pregnant and I thought she might just be feeling emotional/finding it difficult and things would sort themselves out" well that's quite dismissive of her feelings, just because she was pregnant at the time doesn't mean her thoughts and feelings aren't valid

"but she would not talk to me properly about what the problem was and still hasn't/won't." again claiming you don't know yet in the next sentence "As far as I know, she fell out with me because I was cross with her about something she did that was pretty thoughtless. Just normal stuff really." in your opinion, clearly she disagrees

"So it seems maybe it was an excuse to cut me off and this had been building for a while." or it was the final straw

"What's really confusing though is that she had always been really affectionate and loving, coming to my house regularly, telling me all her problems, sharing her successes etc." no relationship is all bad, but when the bad outweighs the good it can be better to cut your losses


"There was a fashion around then to go 'no contact' or call people toxic and cut them off and I wonder if this was part of that. She was going through some stuff herself and I took the brunt?" again dismissive, not only of your sister but of others like myself who have made the very difficult decision to go nc


"She said at the time I was a bully. That really hurt. I definitely had too much of the parent in our relationship but bully's want to hurt people and I would have taken a bullet for her." bullies rarely recognise it in themselves. Bullies generally don't have a desire to hurt, but to control. Bullying behaviour generally is borne of fear and anxiety. Fear of what will happen if things aren't done their way. Anxiety of losing a relationship

"If it I was true that I was bossing her around, which is entirely possible why was she always visiting me and asking for advice?" so you even tentatively admit you were 'bossy' yet are still dismissive of her feelings on this. Why still ask your advice? Because consciously or subconsciously you've trained her to

"I'd love to have an actual proper talk about this maybe with relate? But she doesn't was to resolve the problem and doesn't want me it seems." that is her choice


"The first year or so I tried to keep some contact going with cards and presents etc." had she asked you not to?

"but after bursting into tears in the post office while wrapping a Christmas present for my little niece who I'd only seen once or twice I wondered if I ought to start protecting myself from the pain. Since then I haven't bothered and always hoped she might contact me at some point but ten years have passed." her pain matters too


"She once sent me a business card to tell me that she's set herself up as an 'energy healer' I think because she thought I might need some healing (?) this made me feel slightly better because if she's a bit of a crank maybe I don't need to take it to heart so much but still, I miss her." i don't personally believe in energy healing, but her beliefs are no excuse to dismiss her feelings

"Or I miss who I thought she was, because maybe I was wrong about that?" or maybe she just isn't who you WANT her to be

"No idea whether to just let the situation continue or try to resolve it. More pain for me maybe? She doesn't want to see me or she'd ask." *there's your answer, assuming she could contact you if she wanted to*



"Why not just say "stop micro managing, stop telling me what to do, I'm not a kid, it really does my head in' the. I would have had a chance to correct that behavior, which is after all just a left over from my having to take responsibility for her when we were kids." *are you absolutely certain she didn't try to and you didn't hear her? That's fairly common in dysfunctional relationships*



"Still and Huldra, I tried asking my other sister to intervene, explaining how distressing I was finding it but it's not a supportive family (apart from me and my younger sister, or so I thought)" *or your older sister agrees with her. Are they still in contact? I'm guessing yes*



"Yes, I did apologize at first, I should have explained that. I managed to get her on the phone by persisting, which she didn't like," that could be viewed as harassment especially if she specifically asked you not to contact her

"and asked her if she could explain exactly what it was that I had done wrong. She brought up a different argument from the past, which is a long story, when she was about to spend her life savings on bailing our mother out. I didn't think this was a good idea as I knew our mother would just end up in the same situation down the line so it would be her hard earned money wasted. It was an extremely stressful situation, long story. DS didn't want to listen to my advice (that she'd asked for) and I lost my rag and shouted at her down the phone." *her money her choice, again shows that she didn't go Nc over one argument, one incident*



"In my apology I said, yes you are right, I shouldn't shout at you, I'm sorry for that. I couldn't have been any clearer. Didn't make any difference at all. In fact it only confirmed her belief that I am evil and she is lovely it seems to me, from what I heard afterwards." because it wasn't just the shouting? Because you don't have the right to tell her what to do. Whether or not that involves shouting. You could have advised, or said you didn't think it was a good idea, but you cannot tell her what to do

"Just wanted to add, I do think there was a fashion a while ago, perpetuated by internet chat and online cod psychology forums around cutting people off and then being very smug about it. These things are part of culture and emerge in movements. I have fallen out with people badly myself when I was younger and felt very self righteous about it so I know where this is coming from." *Please STOP with this nonsense it's incredibly offensive. I don't know anyone who's gone Nc either in real life or online that has made the decision lightly or without great discussion and thought and usually the support of others in real life including therapists*



"I have had quite a lot of professional psychotherapy and also was a member of a self help group for 7 years so I'm not without self awareness." *how do you know your sister hasn't also done similar?
she could well have had several years of therapy too*

"I loved my sister so much but I'm not sure I love her now. This is why I am so conflicted. I'd like to resolve the problem and have some limited contact just for practical reasons" what are the practical reasons? If she's still in touch with your older sister surely your older sister can deal with her on any family issues

"but I can't think of anything crueller than cutting someone off who you know loves you for so many years without any warning or explanation and without any chance to try to resolve the problem. I'm not sure she really is the lovely person I thought she was." there are many things crueller than going Nc, also she DID give you an explanation and warning, that's what the email and discussions about your behaviour were. Also, she may be a lovely person, just not the person you WANT her to be

If she is able to contact you, if she is still in contact with your older sister then my advice would be let your older sister know that you are open to hearing from her, that you are truly sorry for your past actions (only say this if you are please) and would welcome the chance to resolve matters.

Other than that leave her alone.

wrappedupinmyselflikeaspool Sun 19-Mar-17 16:06:34

Thanks for all your input. It seems I'm in a minority to think it is BU to cut a family member off for ten years after an argument. I've decided not to contact her again and this is why:

One useful comment was that I don't seem to respect her and it's true that I have lost respect for her. I had a lot of respect for her once and loved her very much but perhaps I don't now. Maybe that is a good enough reason not to contact her. The reason I don't respect her is because I feel she has been cowardly in this and that she I know now that she wouldn't fight for me in the way I have always fought for her. I feel very let down by her. I don't trust her either, because it seems she was dishonest with me.

As another poster said, I will probably never know the truth. Ten years is a long time, maybe she doesn't know the truth either anymore so has nothing to offer me.

As far as respecting her boundaries go, that's a good point and a good reason not to contact. But really after ten years? How would I know what she feels now if I don't ask? Also occurs to me that sending someone to Coventry for even a short period is considered bullying in most institutions so ten years? What kind of crime would you have to commit to get a sentence that long?

Lots of you are very quick to take her side in this and that makes me wonder if this is how a lot of people behave. You have not persuaded me that it's a good way to respond to conflict. You have also not persuaded me that I am the evil big sister and a big bully. No one is perfect. She didn't behave very well at the time either but I do think people are owed some sort of explanation in situations like this. Her original email was just a big angry splurge and quite non specific so no clues there. She then refused to speak with me so I couldn't 1. Apologise 2. Find out what was the matter 3. Resolve the problems caused (to me) by the thing she did that had caused the row in the first place.

I did hope that there might be more people out there who have experienced being cut off so painfully that could tell me how they coped and if they ever managed to resolve it. It's like a constant grief. It comes and goes but when it comes it is strong. Like now.

Thankfully I have lots of support IRL, good friends, a supportive DH, great colleagues.
Good bye and thanks for all the posts.

Huldra Sun 19-Mar-17 16:20:48

I thought your post was about whether you should try to contact her and how. People aren't necessarily taking her side but trying to look at it from the other side because you need that if your ever want to resolve the situation.

If you wanted a discussion about whether no contact is ever right and under what circumstances, you should have started one a little more blatantly. Using your experience as an example.

ZombieApocalips Sun 19-Mar-17 16:49:01

I am NC with my parents and it's not particularly easy being the person who did the cutting off.

Sometimes relationships are so dysfunctional that they can't be saved. One person can change their behaviour but unless the other person changes too, things won't change.

Think back to the past. You describe the relationship as parental rather than sisterly. To me (an outsider), this conjures up an image of you telling your sister to do things (tidy up/get to school/do homework). I know that you were forced into the role through circumstance but can you understand how she might perceive you? How much parental stuff like nagging, advising etc did you have to do? Did you ease up with acting as a parent as she got older? I'm a parent to teens and getting to grips with when to let go and when to be there.

I don't believe in energy healing either but I can see why someone with her history would find it appealing. Instead of dismissing it as "kooky" maybe you also need to find things that heal your soul whether it's meditation, yoga or whatever.

Your sister and you seem to be angry at each other rather than your mum which is a shame.

Oddsockspissmeoff Sun 19-Mar-17 16:51:06

I tried asking my other sister to intervene, explaining how distressing I was finding it

Unfortunately this is known as sending flying monkeys.

DS didn't want to listen to my advice (that she'd asked for) and I lost my rag and shouted at her down the phone

You didn't shout. You abused her, and you did so because you felt entitled because she wouldn't do what you wanted. I wouldn't put up with it either.

Calling someone a crank for doing energy healing is rude and judgemental. Do you actually know anything about it? There is some scientific evidence to support it and people have been doing this from the beginning of time. Even if it only has a placebo effect it can be very powerful.

I'm no contact with a family member. I don't owe them a relationship or an explanation.

Huldra Sun 19-Mar-17 16:54:59

And to be fair in your op you didn't ask if nc was a good way to respond to conflict, or if you were a bully. So posters wouldn't really set out to persuade you in their replies.

You did say that in your mind acts of bullying were attempts to hurt. I don't think they always are and replied as such.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now