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Am I wrong to tell my truth?(14 Posts)
My sister and I were talking on Skype and he was talking in very glowing terms about our father who died a few years ago. I said nothing because our father was an alcoholic who neglected his kids and all his responsibilities, he was also emotionally and physically abusive. My sister adored my father and seemed to think he was wonderful while me and all our siblings have struggled to come to terms with how he was. Anyway so sister was on Skype saying how wonderful he was and I said nothing, then sister got a photo of him and showed me on Skype. I wasn't particularly pleased to see this picture but just said oh yes I remember it being taken. Then she asked me if I didn't want to see it and if not why. She knows my feelings about my father and we have talked before that we both have different memories. So I reiterated that and said I hadn't always had good experiences with him and that I felt he let his family down. She said she didn't want to hear anymore about it and I said that's fine but I want to go now and make dinner so I went.
I was upset at being silenced after I had listened at length to her going on which winds me up a bit tbh. You'd think that was it but no, she spent all evening sending me nasty messages on fb saying that I'm a piece of work and she wonders about me and that I'm nasty etc. I just reiterated that she asked me how I felt and I told her and we are are allowed to disagree. She threatened me that if I didn't accept some of the blame for the fall out between us that she would end our friendship. I said that we shouldn't talk about our father in future and she agreed but went on to send more nasty messages so in the end I let her know I wouldn't be talking with her by message about it anymore.
I notice this is a theme in my family, nobody is allowed to have their own thoughts or take on reality. Also whenever we Skype she tells me to stop talking so she can talk and tells me not to move and where to sit in relation to the screen, I mean I think all this is bonkers.
Does anyone have any insights?
I probably wouldn't Skype my sister very often.
Loads of people live in denial about their parents and their abusiveness - your sister is clearly one of them and prefers the dreamy 'everyone has their faults' approach alongside the "unconditional love for parents" claptrap. That is up to her but you don't have to listen to it.
I wouldn't Skype her at all. I wouldn't have her on FB either. Didn't you write about her before? I remember the woman who made her sister sit still on Skype! She doesn't sound as though she enhances your life or believes your own history, so I'd wind down contact with her to a minimum.
Your sister sounds totally unable to deal with the truth about your dad - which while it may not be your recollection, is almost certainly not the faultless person she has built up in her mind.
Her reaction to your difference of opinion is hugely telling - her rage is an expression of something else she feels but can't say.
while me and all our siblings have struggled to come to terms with how he was
Your sister is also struggling - far more, actually.
Can you think about her role in the family? what was it? where was she in the birth order? why has she taken on the responsibility for being your father's defender?
Yes she sounds in denial, but at the same time you shouldn't feel forced into painful discussions or rewriting your truth as you experienced it.
I think the only thing you can do if she either had such a markedly different experience to you (and it can happen that siblings have vastly different parenting experiences), or cannot bring herself to hear your truth is to keep putting that boundary down. Calmly and firmly, as you already have.
I think you ought to knock the skype on the head for now, the stuff with telling you where to sit sounds very controlling.
I would agree with other posters who have said she is likely really struggling, but again this doesn't mean you need to be silence or forced into conversations you don't want to have. Equally she doesn't necessarily need to hear your views...maybe you can just say no more talking about your dad at all for now?
Swap father for mother and sister for brother and that is every conversation I ever have with my brother
minor point, but about sitting still for skype - could the picture break up often at her end, or could you be hard to see unless you're in a particular spot for the camera?
However ... to the main point of your post
You'd think that was it but no, she spent all evening sending me nasty messages on fb saying that I'm a piece of work and she wonders about me and that I'm nasty etc.
You -are- entitled to your own opinion on your father. Of course you are!! you can't hold someone else's opinion after all
Normally if two people disagree on something difficult, they skirt around it. Each exercises some self-restraint in talking about the subject. Now and then someone might let go but not all the time and the other person can also let go at times too. It's ebb and flow.
In theory next time, you can say to her "I dont want to hear anything more about him". It's a reasonable thing to say. However, the crux of the problem here is that she got nasty and kept on being nasty.
I'd back away in your shoes, saltnpepa. You're entitled to express your views, she's entitled to express hers - civilly - but no one is acting decently who sends shitty messages for the rest of the evening.
Lastly she tells me to stop talking so she can talk. Unless you absolutely dominate the conversation (which doesnt sounds like the case! But if it was you might need to tone it down a bit ... but assuming you don't ... ) well the only reasonable answer is to say "You can talk when I've finished".
I notice this is a theme in my family, nobody is allowed to have their own thoughts or take on reality.
When there's an alcoholic in the family, very often the family protects itself by protecting the alcoholic. You learn to deny reality - to lie - together, as a unit. The family is a system, and each person has their role.
Have you ever been to Al Anon? 12 step is not for everyone, but even if you decide not to work the programme, you are likely to hear stories and meet people that will shed light on your experience.
Another big organisation is Adult Children of Alcoholics - have you come across them?
Thank you for your really insightful comments. No I don't dominate the conversation at all, she doesn't do much but talks at length about things like her hair or a man she is talking to on a dating site and often when I talk she says to me to stop and that she wasn't finished and then goes on. She has told me to sit still because the picture breaks up but at other times she has been exasperated by me moving and not listening to her as she perceives it. She is a recovering alcoholic herself and I have read a bit about adult children of alcoholics. She adored my Dad even when he canceled his home help and got her to come over to wash his arse when he knew she was mortified. He was a bastard but I don't stop her talking about him in glowing terms, I just put up with it but I'm seemingly not allowed my feeings and viewpoint.
I think the best thing you can do is to quietly let her make the running when it comes to contact, set yourself a time limit for talking to her (10 or 15 mins) and civilly speak your piece when she won't let you talk.
Regarding the nasty comments, in a similar situation which went on for six months, I ended up blocking the half-sister. Family is family but it sucks to be the scapegoat for someone else's issues and after a certain point you have to draw a line (if attempts to really talk and sort things out don't work).
when i say 'let her make the running when it comes to contact' I mean wait for her to contact you, don't initiate it. If she tries to contact you, make sure you arrange a time that is convenient to you, don't just answer the call. That gives you some power.
This is what keeps happening in my family, they all play games, manipulate and rewrite history while I keep on telling the truth. Bit by bit I have fallen out with almost all of them and am made to feel like a trouble maker and have them say that I'm unwell when I am not. I think the only way to enjoy my otherwise happy life is to go nc with them all. I have a half brother who has gone nc and I'm the only one who supported him in that and understood it as a healthy boundary. I'm so tired of having them in my life.
It does sound like you would find Al Anon useful, having not just one but two alcoholics in your close family.
All the local AA/Al Anon groups have slightly different personalities, so don't get put off if you don't like the first one you go to.
I also think that your sister might be taking any criticism of an alcoholic as too close for comfort.
There's actually three in my family, it's a bit of a mess
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