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What to do with my DSis(28 Posts)
I have been on MN for a few years now but mainly as a lurker. I need some different views on how to deal with my sister please. There is a lot of background detail that I will try to keep brief, so I'll apologise in advance for any drip feeding. I am also going to keep some details vague to avoid outing myself.
I am one of four sisters. A few years ago, our eldest DSis (DSis1) died leaving a young DS. Her DP took on responsibility supported by our family particularly the sister I am writing about here who I will call DSis2. A couple of years after this our DF died of cancer.
Around this time, DSis2 started acting strangely. She blamed it on the deaths of my DF and DSis1 but eventually it became clear that she was having an affair with the DP of my late DSis1. She left her own DH, taking two of her own DC with her and leaving the eldest DD with her ex-DH on the basis that she was closer to him and would therefore prefer to stay there, though not actually talking to her about it.
This whole episode was conducted with much drama, including threats to kill herself. Before I knew the truth, I went with her to counselling to try and help her deal with the deaths in the family only to find that she lied extensively and even used my house to meet up with my late DSis1's DP.
Because of the deaths, my family made the decision to stick with her. I did not want to lose another DSis nor did we want to lose contact with the different DC. This was very very difficult to manage for all of us, particularly my DM.
The drama and issues have continued ever since. At one point a couple of years ago, her ex-DH started seeing someone else. This sent my DSis2 into months of behaviour that I found to be appalling and disgraceful. She used every possible form of emotional blackmail and manipulation to try and stop this relationship even though it was she who had had the affair and broken up the family. This included using her own DC to pass on threats to her ex-DH and the rest of our family that she was going to kill herself. There were lots of instances of extreme behaviour in front of all of the children. There was one (half-hearted it turned out when the details became clear) attempt to kill herself, where she phoned me when I was on my way home from work and told me she had taken tablets.
More recently, her relationship with my late DSis's DP has finished. This has kicked it all off again with her threats and abuse being aimed at us all including her DC.
Her relationship with all of her DC is now very poor. They do not wish to spend any time with her. This is also true of the rest of the family.
In terms of the support I have provided - I have tried the following tactics:
Going with her to counselling
Phoning or seeing her every day
Not phoning her or seeing her for a while because I cannot deal with her
Telling her some truths but I have not been able to tell her the extent of how much hurt and damage she has caused
Being supportive by spending time listening to her
Providing financial support (which I continue to do)
Trying to help the DC deal with her
Getting in professional support via the GP and the local mental health team
And so on
I have run out of ideas, patience and sympathy. It is affecting my whole family, including my own DH and DD. Is there anyone out there who can give me ideas or direction on what to do with her?
I hope this is enough information, but will answer any questions I can.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and I appreciate any responses.
Ok, I think you have been an amazing sister so far. Reading your post leaves me feeling quite concerned for her children. Are they still living with her? Does she actually have any sort of MH diagnosis because IMO her behaviour is shocking. It seems like she is wrapped up in her own selfish world and does whatever she can to satisfy herself.
If her children no longer live with her my advice would be to stay away from her so that you cannot enable her to continue this behaviour. She needs to grow up.
I hope others are along soon with more helpful advice but from what you have written I feel as though you have exhausted every avenue with her and she is beyond the reach of common sense.
Thanks for the response.
She has one DD who still lives with her part-time. Her DS recently left to go to university. There has been various discussions over the years as to whether the DC should live with their father, but he has always resisted this as being the thing that might totally push her over the edge.
They have also not wanted to leave her because of the threats to kill herself - we have all offered at different time for them to come to us.
She has been diagnosed with depression and is on tablets - one of the things she does is if we do not give her enough attention is to stop taking them. She also has a raft of other health issues requiring tablets and doctors appointments. I believe this is just another manifestation of whatever the problems are in her head.
We have got the emergency mental health team involved as well as the more normal routes through the GP. She has had various attempts at counselling but mostly it appears she blames my DM, DF and her sisters as the root of all her problems.
You sound like such a lovely sister.
I wish I could offer some practical help, but other than ensuring the DC are safe and continuing to be there for your DSis, I don't thin there is much you can do due to your DSis herself.
She has behaved appallingly to everyone in her life and sounds very selfish in her refusal to see what she has done and trying to blame others. Ultimately until she does make this connection then she is not going to make any changes that will allow her to start building positive relationships.
Thank you KatieKaye.
I also believe there is nothing more we can do until she takes some responsibility. I just don't know how to get her to see this.
She is so angry and bitter and lashes out at everyone but in my view this is because of the decisions she has taken.
I am grateful for the reassurance that you think that there is not much more I could have done as I feel hugely guilty and sad about it all.
Well, she certainly has you all dancing to her tune doesn't she? There is a big difference between someone who is suicidal, and someone who threatens to kill themself as a form of emotional blackmail. My suggestion would be stop trying to help her at all - focus your help on your family and her dc who you can help.
I agree Purple. I feel like we are being manipulated but it's so hard to step away. She uses her DC as part of the manipulation who then come to us for help.
I have put some distance between us, but she then comes and visits my DH who works from home to tell him about all her issues and how no-one loves/supports/cares about her.
It is to the point where we are considering moving further away to stop this but I am worried about how this will impact her DC and the increased pressure on my DM and other DSis.
How much financial help are you giving her?
I pay her to come and do some cleaning at my house and to look after my dog sometimes as she is mostly unable to work outside the house due to panic attacks.
She often doesn't come but I pay her anyway. I give her about £300/month.
do you really think that is a good idea?
Probably not - but it's hard to stop when you've started.
I think I am getting the message (very nicely) from you all that I am enabling her behaviour.
How do I stop doing this?
OP you sister has behaved very badly and does seem to have MH issues. I think you need to stop enabling her behaviour and withdraw your financial support. Stop getting involved in her dramas, concentrate on your own family and remain a supportive aunt.
Thanks Mincespy - I know you are right but it's hard to stop.
I am going to take the dog out for a couple of hours.
I appreciate all the responses and will respond when I get back.
This is a case of when you do what you always did you get what you always got.
You must change your response to your sister. She is an adult now and must start to take responsibility for herself and her actions.
You should start by reducing her money. I certainly would.
You should not respond to her threats of emotional blackmail as you are helping (unknowingly) to perpetuate her behaviour.
By all means be her sister but tell her you aren't a qualified doctor and it's a doctor who she must speak to regarding her mental health issues.
Say calmly and nicely 'I don't want to discuss this with you anymore as I feel unable to help with this situation'. Repeat. Repeat.
Or you could go no contact with her.
Or you could engage your whole family to take a much sterner approach with her.
Yous are babying her. She must grow up but she won't and can't while you and others are enabling her cycle of destruction.
Unfortunately, I have no advice for you but I just wanted to say you sound like a lovely person and sister and that you have given her more love, understanding and support than she probably deserves.
I don't think you have anything to feel guilty about.
This is very difficult because it sounds like you need to redraw the boundaries of your relationship with her.
It is difficult but can be done. She behaves like an unruly, unhappy teenager and isn't taking responsibility for herself. It is not the world's responsibility to facilitate her happiness. You can love her and treat her with respect without allowing her to put all the responsibility on you and your husband. I think you could benefit from outside help to see your way towards doing this; have you thought about counselling for yourself? It's a case of not internalising that which is not yours. Her problems are not your fault, not your responsibility and you cannot help her.
Possibly one practical way of redrawing boundaries I'd start with is I'd begin paying her per session of work. I'd speak with her about it, and say that jobs aren't getting done, and I needed them doing because I'm busy. I would say, if the job's too much for her, I'd have to get someone else in. I'd try and agree a length of time in which to see an improvement, and by the end of that time if there was none, then I'd say, there's been no change in the job being done so I'm cancelling the direct debit payment, and will pay per session, into the bank, each time.
She might have a massive tantrum and blame it all on you, and refuse to do anything, and martyr herself over it. That is up to her. It's not your fault. If she does, get another cleaner. You need to take care of yourself too, and part of that is maintaining mutually respectful boundaries with people, and protecting yourself from others who have none.
Good luck. I really feel for you!
How do I stop doing this?
I don't know enough about you to make suggestions, but surely there is something in your life that needs the cash more or you have less to spend in the first place? Kids, car, house, savings, improvements, charity, university, college, garden...
Why is she coming round to see your husband about all this?
i'd go batshit if she were coming to my house to speak to my h! poor bugger works from home, he's got no escape.
he needs to NOT be available to her, tell her it's not convenient, conference call, anything then close the door.
you need to tell her that you're re-evaluating her working in your home, as it's not reliable and you don't have the money to just lay out on nothing.
you also need to speak to her children and tell them that you are there for them, that they can always rely on you, but that the situation wrt their mother has to change.
yeah she will kick off, call her MH team, 999 whover you have, but YOU won't go running.
she's a vampire, an eomtional terrorist, and will use and manipulate anyone andd everyone to get what she wants - precisely at the cost of everyone else.
she started this because the death of your sister and df meant that others had the attention she wanted. this is why she went after your dsis husband, to fee off the sympathy he'd have, and enter the 'i'm more bereaved than youk competition.
poor bugger, I hope he's free of her now?
this sounds like a personaility disorder. I know naff all about this stuff, but it sounds similar behaviour to those i've heard diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
you have to get off this diabolical treadmill!
i'd go batshit if she were coming to my house to speak to my h! poor bugger works from home, he's got no escape.
The OP has actively encouraged her sister to come to the house to speak to her husband, is even paying her to do it!
Bonkers. such a fucked up dynamic going on here.
You need to put some distance between you and it has to start with no more dog walking/cleaning. It was a generous gesture in the beginning but she has used it to her own ends to get at your DH. She has abused her position in that respect so you must tell her that you do not need a dog walker/cleaner any more.
She will kick off big time no doubt because after all, you are bankrolling her to the tune of £300 a month. But I think you have been over generous in the past and that has to stop. As someone else said, she is a grown woman, she made her choices in life and I do think everyone is dancing to her tune and she must now rely on the MH teams for professional help.
If it were me, I would try just once to explain all of this... the fact she made these choices in life, that you have supported her through these crap decisions she has made, tell her of the huge upset she has caused to not only her children, but the wider family too. Sit her down and tell her and start it off with saying... I have given you a huge amount of support and you owe me the opportunity to speak to you and for you to sit quietly for ten minutes and listen to me whilst I tell you how things are going to have to change as far as me, my DH and the rest of the wider family. Tell her that from now on, you will not respond to any emotional blackmail of any sort.
If she tantrums, goes off and then rings you mid suicide attempt, give her the number of the Samaritans or ring her MH team. The longer this goes on, the worse this will become if you don't be firm with her. You sound like a very kind supportive sister who has been caught up in this for far too long. I would concentrate all my support and help on her DC's and let her get on with it. Sorry if that sounds harsh.
Hi All - back from dog walking now.
Thanks very much for the responses - I guess I am relieved to find that no-one has suggested that I have not done enough to help/support her.
There is some clear direction on what I need to do and I think it has confirmed what I probably already knew if I am honest.
I am going to give the thread to my DH to read to ensure that I have been fair in my representation and get his thoughts on your responses.
I think that if you think of her as an addict to drama/attention you may be able to see her behaviour in different light.
You then can make decision where to go next & how to manage it.
DH is amazed at how quickly you have all picked up the detail and agrees with the responses.
Thanks for your input - it give us some things to both think about and be brave and do.
Agreed with quitelikely and hissy.
Just to say again what they have said - it would be an idea to make it clear tto her children that you will be there for them but that you cannot interfere any more for your sister as she is responsible for her own actions.
Phase out or stop outright hte dogwalking etc.
I'm afraid I would also be very careful that she doesn't try it on with your husband. She has some serious issues and not much sense of what's appropriate and what isn't.
If she threatens suicide then call the emergency services. All you can do is treat her seriously.
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