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Learning to hold my nerve re sister

(21 Posts)
appletarts Sat 15-Feb-14 16:34:33

My sister has been passive aggressive with me for years following a conflict which we can't seem to resolve. She has done some unforgivable things in this time including trying to ruin my wedding day and worse, if you can imagine any worse. Anyway, she began being passive aggressive with my kids, not kissing them hello, giving off weird vibes, ignoring them, forbidding me from talking about some things to do with them in her house (what?? nutty!). So I went nc, I didn't announce it I just was unavailable and made no contact and after one attempt from her she gave up.

Yesterday she sends a txt that she has presents for the kids do we want to come and collect them. I said that I appreciate the presents but that the relationship between us all needs fixing before we can come to collect gifts cos the vibes upset my kids. She just replied that the gifts are there when we want to pick them up. She couldn't care less could she?

tribpot Sat 15-Feb-14 16:39:41

Well, on one level I think she's probably right not to try and get into a very emotionally-charged discussion via text. I don't think you should have taken the bait, just said thank you for the kind gesture but you wouldn't be able to pop in. End of.

I would follow her lead and simply say 'thanks'. You've made your point, she's not willing to engage, you're not willing to resume things as if nothing had happened. So you're at an impasse. Let it go.

How long had you been no contact? It might be worth popping over to the Stately Homes thread to talk about how to avoid being needled into contact with family members after you've decided to go nc.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 15-Feb-14 16:47:24

What your sister is doing is called "hoovering". Its a technique used by many disordered people to draw their intended victim/s back into their web of dysfunction.

She could not care less and such gifts are not sent without any unwritten conditions attached either.

I would ignore any communications and do not reply further to any further text messages. Any contact from you will be seen by her as a reward so she will hassle you even more.

The toxic hooverer doesn’t truly care about you either — they just want to keep you around to feed on emotionally, and when you decide to go no contact, they don’t plan on letting you get away that easily.

Many hooverers have traits of borderline, narcissistic, antisocial or histrionic personality disorders. You can click the green & purple buttons to the lower right to find out if that may describe the person hoovering you. People with Dependent Personality Disorder may also hoover.

Hoovering is manipulation to gain control over your choice to distance yourself, and typically takes the following forms:

•Ignoring your requests to break off the relationship and attempting to continue on as if nothing has changed.
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•Asking you when you’re going to “get over it” and return to your past actions.
.
•Sending you a fake apology to give you hope that things have changed.
.
•Trying to trick you into contact by saying someone needs you, is sick, or in trouble.
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•Triangulating with others, communicating things to you through them.
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•Saying they’re worried about you, concerned about whether you’re okay, need to know where you are, etc.
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•Sending unwanted cards, messages and gifts, sometimes gifts for your children, as they know you are likely to feel guilty about keeping a gift from your kids. Don’t allow this – exposing your children to manipulation is far worse!
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•Returning old items you left behind.
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•Baiting you with drama games.
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•Contacting you about “important” things they “forgot” and suddenly have to tell you.

Don’t Fall for Hoovering Tactics

Attempts to pull you back into a toxic relationship are not valid expressions of caring and concern — they are attempts to regain control over your behaviour. Beware — hoovering attempts are often disguised as caring, loneliness, hurt, desperation, fear, illness, and other things designed to play on your sympathies and pull you back. Abusers know that pulling on heartstrings works very well. (In the case of BPD, it may be simply out-of-control emotions and fear of abandonment more than an attempt to control you per se; however you will likely still feel that you are not being allowed to end a relationship you no longer want).

If your wish to end a relationship is not being honoured, whatever a toxic person thinks will work best on you will be what they try, so when one angle doesn’t work, they will try another, and another, ramping up their efforts until it seems they might never stop. Typically, hoovering DOES stop if the person being hoovered does not fall for the hooverer’s tricks.

The sooner the person being hoovered completely ignores everything and does not respond to anything at all in any way, the sooner the toxic person finally understands that they do not have the control. Some toxic people may still make the occasional attempt on holidays, anniversaries of events, etc. Don’t bite the bait. Simply ignore any attempts.

If you have already made it clear that you do not want a relationship (or if it’s obvious) then DON’T ever contact the person doing the hoovering to tell them to stop again, or how angry you are. That is a reward. They will be thrilled to receive your attention and pleased to know that their efforts have paid off by snagging you, so they’ll be contacting you even more!

Joysmum Sat 15-Feb-14 16:51:38

Totally agree, she's trying to play on your nature and suck you back in.

appletarts Sat 15-Feb-14 16:51:52

Thank you for such a big reply! I don't want to end a relationship with her but don't wish to be treated like that anymore, or my kids and as she won't engage in any discussions I feel I have no choice. I felt my reply to her was sort of offering a conversation about things and she threw it back at me sticking to the invite to collect presents while totally ignoring my response. It's so sad it never moves on and I think she only contacted me cos my mum encouraged her to.

WhatAFeline Sat 15-Feb-14 16:53:02

Hi, I don't know anything about going NC or hoovering, but it seems odd to get presents for someone's children and then put them to the inconvenience of coming to collect them.

Good on you, sounds like you have done the right thing.

MaryWestmacott Sat 15-Feb-14 16:53:30

Don't reply.

appletarts Sat 15-Feb-14 16:54:51

I'm usually such a forgiving person that it sits really badly with me to hold off. This is the first time I've said no, I'm not taking part. I said that my children need their extended familys presence not gifts, she said we could come to collect the gifts. That says it all really doesn't it?

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 15-Feb-14 17:02:14

Appletarts

Re your comment:-

"I don't want to end a relationship with her but don't wish to be treated like that anymore, or my kids and as she won't engage in any discussions I feel I have no choice. I felt my reply to her was sort of offering a conversation about things and she threw it back at me sticking to the invite to collect presents while totally ignoring my response. It's so sad it never moves on and I think she only contacted me cos my mum encouraged her to"

Why don't you want to end the relationship with your sister; that needs further thought on your part. Perhaps you still think on some level that she will change and become nicer. People do not make the decision to go no contact with relatives after all without doing much soul searching and heartache beforehand.

Your only error here was to reply to the initial text; I can see why you did it but you were previously NC with your sister. NC means precisely that; no contact. That text also led to a second message from her.

Your mother has also played a role here and basically she needs to back off as well. Your mother too has not helped any here; she had played the role of the "winged monkey". Your sister used her to contact you and your mother facilitated it. Again this is another technique, these people are not above using others to do their work for them.

Hoovering is manipulation to gain control over your choice to distance yourself, and typically takes the following forms:

Your sister has basically done all the following:-

•Ignoring your requests to break off the relationship and attempting to continue on as if nothing has changed.
•Asking you when you’re going to “get over it” and return to your past actions.
•Sending unwanted cards, messages and gifts, sometimes gifts for your children, as they know you are likely to feel guilty about keeping a gift from your kids. Don’t allow this – exposing your children to manipulation is far worse!

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 15-Feb-14 17:04:04

"I'm usually such a forgiving person that it sits really badly with me to hold off"

She knows this and is using this against you as well. Do not fall for any hoovering techniques because these people all work to the same depressing script.

And no she does not give a fig for either you or your children. Such gifts also are NEVER sent without unwritten condition or obligation attached to them.

Ignore and detach from her for your sake appletarts.

NigellasDealer Sat 15-Feb-14 17:06:42

very strange to get presents and then not send them. my brother used to do this, it would be shoes for my small children, then he would phone and tell me he had bought them some shoes and that one day he would send them .....confused
we don't talk anymore....

TaraLott Sat 15-Feb-14 17:11:44

Gifts, schmifts, if she wanted to see you and your kids she'd ask when she could visit.
You don't need presents, if she wants a relationship with you and you want one with her, let her do the running this time.
I'd ignore her.

tribpot Sat 15-Feb-14 17:12:56

I think if you want to try to repair the relationship with her, say so clearly, don't hide behind the question of acceptance (or not) of some (alleged) presents. I recall from another thread recently from a poster with a very PA sister that she found it very difficult not to fall into those patterns of behaviour herself. The passive aggressor establishes a family dynamic that best serves him/herself and so it is easy to think that the only way to engage is in their chosen style.

If you believe she will not engage with you on the issue, then your first course of action, to end contact, was the correct one. Now you just need to stick at it.

TaraLott Sat 15-Feb-14 17:13:44

Oh, and WhatAFeline said too, why buy presents so you have to put yourself out to go and collect them.

Chuck her.

LumpySpacePrincessOhMyGlob Sat 15-Feb-14 17:20:27

Sil is like this, even down to trying to ruin our wedding day. grin

We went totally non contact. She did send gifts for dd which we received then dd was berated by mil for not sending appropriate thank you notes. Excessive worth was put on said gifts, all passed on through mil. They were either very rare or sil had gone out of her way to get this special something for dd blah blah blah. She also apparently has a wall of photos of dd which she cries over every day.

Prior to going nc she had not bothered with dd at all, she left the room when she was in it, refused to have anything to with her.

It's probably just a ploy to get you involved again, tread carefully. People rarely change their behavioural patterns.

appletarts Sat 15-Feb-14 18:24:30

I think she hates me but wants to keep some form of relationship with the kids. Thing is her hate towards me spills out in her relationship with the kids so she ignores them sometimes, other times kisses them hello, other times not. I went nc this time because my dd had a big operation which sis knew about and she never even sent a txt to ask how it went. We did the whole thing with no family support at all. This was the straw that broke the camels back, and now she wants us to go over to collect a present she 'forgot' to give kids for christmas. sorry what?

tribpot Sat 15-Feb-14 18:35:17

Well as her idea of a relationship with the kids is not one that is good for them, I think your choice is simple. All you need now is the resolve to carry it out - which I know is easier said than done.

AndTheBandPlayedOn Sat 15-Feb-14 18:50:16

Buying gifts and then making you jump through hoops to actually get them is a control tactic.

If she is too nasty (emotionally abusive) to be in your life, then that goes for your dc too. It is in the name of protecting your dc from a dynamic they are too young to know about or respond to.

No contact, yes exactly.

Buying the gifts was probably something she did to make herself proud of herself (or her mother proud of her). It had noting to do with you, or your dc.

It is easy to slip a couple of steps backward and start to over think it all over and over again. But you really do not need to. She will not change.
Maintain complete radio silence.

tribpot Sat 15-Feb-14 19:37:07

It sounds like you've also been cast as the role of appeaser in your family, which makes it hard not to do. Being forgiving isn't always an asset, if it means other people can walk all over you.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 15-Feb-14 19:40:30

A good rule of thumb here is that if she is too difficult/toxic for you to deal with, she is certainly too difficult/toxic for your both vulnerable and defenceless children.

Hissy Sat 15-Feb-14 19:56:18

No love, she hates you so much she'll hurt your kids to get to you.

Jealousy probbly. You'll never know, and ultimately it doesn't matter.

Please listen to Atilla, she's bang on right here. She knows her stuff.

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