Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Sisters - are they being awful or is it me?

(23 Posts)
tinfoilhat Sat 30-Jan-16 02:56:28

I'll try to give as much info as briefly as possible..

I was born when my brother (Asd) was 15 and my sisters 12 and 9. I never gelled with my Mum but i adored my sisters. They both got married within 2 months of each other when I was 11, i was devastated, not helped by Mum being obviously not happy just to have me at home. Sisters have never got on with each other, like chalk and cheese. I've always been in the middle, i got on with both and would try not to get involved with the bitching. They both had children, still never got on. Our Mum had huge illness 12 yrs ago that left her paralysied and unable to speak. I got married a few years later. At that time I was closest to my eldest sister as had realised the other one had been extremely controlling over me and was a general control freak. I had my first DC in 2009, eldest sister very much involved but then things turned. Just before i had DC1 my DH lost his job, he was therefore around a lot and as a result i didn't see my sister as much as we thought we would. The longer DH was out of work, the more he withdrew and if someone came round to see the baby, he would likely stay upstairs on PC jobhunting as embarressed about being out of work, but it actually was just plain rude. Just before DC1 was a year old I became pregnant with DC2, two days after we found out, DH's mum died suddenly. Two weeks later it was my nephew's 18th, i went to the party on my own as a) we had no babysitter and b) DH was not in right place mentally to go.
I didn't see much of sisters throughout pregnancy and towards the end, although we had asked my older sister to have DC1 whilst i was in labour/giving birth, she hadn't spent any time with him for over a month and as it turned out DC1 had a d&v bug 2days before I gave birth so DH's sister came to stay to look after DC1, my sister would never have stayed at my house. DC2 born, still not much contact from sisters. When DC2 was 6 months old my very dear workfriend of 10 yrs, and my step-in 'Mum' was given two weeks to live and died from cancer. Neither sister bothered calling to see how I was. Visits became non-existent. Both sisters started to become close for the first time in my memory. My birthday that year, they both came over the day before to give me my presents (never came together ever before) and said they'd just been for lunch. The fact it was my birthday the next day, they knew I never went out on my own and my DH was around to look after DC's and they never bothered asking me, told me exactly what they thought of me.

DC2 now 10 months old. Our Mum diagnosed with severe illness, the following week i get a voicemail message from Dad saying Mum's been given 24 hours and to get to hospital asap. I ring sisters to see what's going on, They are in car together on way to hospital, they got message 2 hours before. i ask why no one called me, they said they knew I had DC and they couldn't help with them so didn't think to call. It didn't even occur to them to speak to me just to talk about the news.
Mum died the following day.

2months later I call my sisters to ask why I don't hear from them any more, i'm upset and start to cry. Eldest sister, who hates any form of confrontation, says that DH and I shut everyone out after DC1 born, that she was hurt she didn't get to look after DC1 when I was having DC2 and she ended up saying that people change after they have kids and that basically I had changed so much that she felt our relationship was lost, I asked if we could ever get back what we had, she said she didn't think so. I was devastated. Other sister apologised for misunderstanding the day before Mum died but didn't get that the most hurtful thing was that I didn't matter enough for them to even speak to. She feels that as I'm the youngest i expect everything to revolve around me and it's not all about me. They both said how DH's behaviour in not seeing people has played a part too.

So, since then I only receive contact around birthday's, Easter and Christmas. We make contact near significant dates and they ask what * wants for their birthday, I tell them, they ask to 'pop' round on or near the day to give present. I usually have a small family party for DC that I ask them to, DH is never there as he doesn't want to see them, they never bring their kids, only come on their own. It is always false friendliness until their duty is done. I have tried contact at other times but they are either busy or don't answer my calls. I send nephews and neices either money or vouchers on their birthdays and christmas, give lottery tickets at Easter instead of eggs, I will more often than not not hear anything from them, no thank you at all.

DH thinks I should tell them where to go. He thinks they've hurt me enough, that all I do is doff my cap at them and be grateful for any bit of contact I get from them, he thinks they don't give a shit about us and all they're doing is their duty so they don't upset Dad. He says they abandoned us right when we needed them most - we had no mothers around for advice or to help, we've never had a night out together, our children never have anyone else take them out or just turn up and spoil them, my sisters have chosen to not be a part of that and our kids don't deserve it.

He's not wrong... All my life I've longed for our family to get back together and have a big family Christmas like when I was young, but it only dawned on me when Mum was ill that they never, ever wanted that. They see their family as them and their children, whereas I see my family as including them and my Dad too. I feel like maybe they never really gave a shit but it didn't show before i had my children.

So the latest is that Dad was ill before Christmas, thankfully fine now. But whilst he was ill i had regular contact with my sisters to arrange visiting etc and it was very obvious I was tolerated. Once Dad was back home, two weeks before Christmas, they both shut off. I asked to get together to exchange presents/see them for Christmas, but they both said (all friendly!) they were just too busy. The kids presents were dropped off at my Dad's for me to collect.

DH thinks I should tell them to poke their presents, what our kids need is someone in their lives that cares about them, not that turns up with a present on the 'correct' date. I've tried explaining that I can't do this, it will upset Dad too much. But then why am I going through this pretence every birthday? Every bloody time I think that maybe things will be different, maybe they're ready to move on and I'm all hopeful like some idiot puppy, only to be kicked in the teeth again...

What do I do? Are we to blame as much as they are? Or are they the spiteful bitches I'm beginning to think they are? Do I put up with the present farce every year?

I'm so, so hurt. My poor kids deserve so much more, I would love so much to be able to share the joy they bring with my sisters.

tinfoilhat Sat 30-Jan-16 02:57:15

Bloody hell that was wrong, I'm sorry. Thank you if you reached the end.

Meeep Sat 30-Jan-16 03:16:52

I am one of three sisters and I've found that at different times of our lives, different pairs have been closer, with one left out a bit. It's just natural really.
The first to have children, the last to have children, the one who moved away from the home town, the one with the unfriendly DH...

Perhaps this is that mixed with something else - they just don't put as much importance onto wider family relationships as you do.
If you've asked before for more contact / more effort before and they've said no then what else can you do other than step back? It must feel really sad for you I can completely imagine.
Maybe focus more on your friends, or work on finding some more friends, build up other relationships in your life if the one with your sisters can't grow.
(Hopefully someone with good advice will reply after me!!)

Atenco Sat 30-Jan-16 04:24:35

No advice, but yes families go through different pairings up at different times. I don't think you should be so emotionally involved, but I also don't agree with your DH that you should be rude or unpleasant to them.

Isetan Sat 30-Jan-16 04:33:26

Your sisters' sound quite detached from you and it's difficult to ascertain if that's because of the age gap, some weird family dynamic or just a clash of personalities.

Although you DH's goading, in light of his unwelcoming behaviour is a bit rich, he is right in that you try too hard to have a type of relationship that your sisters' don't appear to want. Since your marriage have you ever made contact arrangements with your sisters' outside of your home? Given that you've said your H is absent in their presence and they have mentioned his behaviour previously, are you willing to concede that his behaviour has been a contributing factor to your current relationship with them? Going NC is your prerogative but given that it's their detachment that you find upsetting, I think that decision will hurt you more than them.

I'm sorry that you don't have the relationship with your sisters' that you crave but you and your H never spending time away from your kids isn't their responsibility and as your children have never experienced a close relationship with your siblings, their continued absence probably doesn't impact them as much as you think it does.

Your sisters' have been very thoughtless at times but I don't believe that their detachment is malicious and rather than expecting them to change, maybe it's time you readjusted your expectations and accept that your family will never (and never did) live up to your fantasy.

MagicalMrsMistoffelees Sat 30-Jan-16 06:24:49

Relationships shouldn't be this hard. If they are they're probably not worth it, even when it's your sisters. I understand why you long for their interest and acceptance but as it's not forthcoming and causing you so much pain I feel you really ought to step back to protect yourself. Cards at Christmas and birthdays if you want to keep up a facade for your dad but take their lead and keep it minimal. Focus on your own family.

Don't feel bad for your children. They'll never know any difference.

Is your dad interested in you and your children? How is your relationship with your brother?

MrsCampbellBlack Sat 30-Jan-16 06:32:52

I think your DH sounds quite a problem. He has played a big part in isolating you from your family and is continuing to do so.

Creampastry Sat 30-Jan-16 07:07:17

I agree, your dh has contributed to this situation.

TheBouquets Sat 30-Jan-16 09:10:06

Have had experience of a non communicative partner who was also unemployed. I notice both your partner and the person I knew were still trying to control things by being so difficult that visitors feel so uncomfortable at the houses. You being the "baby" the sisters should be more protective of you but maybe feel they cant do much because of the conduct of the partners.
Your partners conduct is not at all welcoming to anyone. It also makes life difficult for you and the children.

florentina1 Sat 30-Jan-16 09:36:06

I very rarely read long posts, but yours was so articulate and heartbreaking that I feel so sad for you.

You have to put aside who is at fault. Yours sisters and you OH have both had a hand in creating this situation but that is what it is.

I can totally relate to being on the outside of a family group. The constant desire for someone to recognise your needs.

My only advice is to accept that you are never going to get what you want from the adults. Concentrate on making a life for you little ones. Children do survive without the extended family if you make Home life as happy for them as you can.

I now have my wish to be part of a big loving family. My DCs And their partners, my 8 GKs and the GFS of the older ones. Te ach your children to love and respect their siblings, welcome their friends into your home and you will be rewarded by never seeing your own kids suffering like you are.

summerainbow Sat 30-Jan-16 09:51:15

Your famliy is you DH and your kids .
Your DH has made it clear that he does not what your sisters in his life.

Iwonderif Sat 30-Jan-16 09:53:28

Your post was very moving. Families are so complicated at times. I love the saying "you can choose your friends but not your family" it's so true.

Going no contact will cause you more pain and upset. You've been through a great deal of upset and stress in a relatively short period of time. Your DH isn't quite seeing how this is making you feel and instead of trying to help you sort this out and admitting that he has added to part of this is taking the easier route of NC so basically he doesn't have to "deal" with any of this.

Probably your sisters found comfort in each other when the problems first started. It's heartbreaking for you I get that but the 3 of you I feel should thrash this out once and for all. Give it one last shot. Lay everything out say to them what you've said on here one last time. I can sense you're missing them dreadfully.

I'm the youngest and was very very close to my big brother. He's 8 years older than me. My sister who is 4 years older than me weren't close at all growing up. But are closer now. The relationship with my brother is quite odd now and he now talks to her a great deal and I think is now closer to her than me. I've accepted this. It was tough but I've got some very dearly loved friends who are like family to me.

Wishing you all the very best. Life is short. So try once more and then you know you gave it your all. Explain to DH that you need his support in this and tell your sisters how much upset this is causing you. If they still don't make the effort to make amends then if I were you and it will be upsetting is to call it a day. It will be hard. But not

OurBlanche Sat 30-Jan-16 09:59:32

Please take a quick step back.

Either your sisters have moved on and are now less invested in you as a family member, or

They are right and your DH has managed to isolate you from your family.

Chances are that, through circumstance or deliberate act, you have become disconnected and are now at a loss as to how it has happened to you. All you can do is decide what you really want to happen and then set about talking more to all involved to make it a reality.

LaContessaDiPlump Sat 30-Jan-16 10:06:19

I don't have much advice to offer op but wanted to say I truly sympathise as my (younger) sister isn't that interested in me and my new family either. No fault on either side, she's just not interested. It hurts flowers

withaspongeandarustyspanner Sat 30-Jan-16 17:46:12

My first instinct is that your DH is a problem. Sounds to me like he's trying to isolate you from your family. I recognise the signs - I had one of those for nearly 8 years.

lostinmiddlemarch Sat 30-Jan-16 19:12:05

I don't think your DH has pulled his weight with your family at all, so he has no right to accuse them of all sorts now. I'm not sure I would continue to visit somewhere if I was made to feel unwelcome every time I came. Unless you were falling over yourself to be friendly (and in fact it sounds as if you were doing the opposite, at least with one sister), it would have an effect on the relationship. Being around someone's unfriendly husbands is awful and causes problems if you're then asking your own husband to be around somebody else's unfriendly husband, if you get my drift.

I'm not surprised that your middle sister has stepped back as that seems to have been originally initiated by you when you decided she was a control freak. Perhaps she knows that you don't like her, but that your eldest sister now does?

There isn't enough information from your sisters on how they see you to really understand why they're acting as they do. It sounds terribly painful to be left out and I would feel it isn't good to bang your head against a brick wall forever.

It seems as if they've discovered each other for the first time as adults and are enjoying the friendship all the more because it's come late. That shouldn't have to mean that you are completely excluded, but unfortunately it seems like perhaps there was a perfect storm of circumstances that has led to you being left out - you're the youngest and your life is probably in a slightly different place, they feel excluded from your immediate family circle, you distanced from your middle sister which may have created an awkward situation if your eldest sister was just getting close to her etc..

AlwaysHopeful1 Sat 30-Jan-16 19:28:57

Op it clearly shouts out from your post how much your Dh is a problem. Have you been to someone's home where someone will actively go out of the way to avoid you? It's really sends the message you are not welcome. They might not have wanted to cause a problem for you but questioning this, or they might be angry that you allowed him to treat them this way.

There's a large age gap between you and them, and they might be closer in the stage in their lives now. Also you have two young dc, maybe they just feel you have too much on your plate to keep worrying you about your parents.

I'm sorry that you're going this , family dynamics change and it's hard. But your Dh has a lot to answer for the change.

springydaffs Sat 30-Jan-16 21:31:46

I relate to your longing for your sisters to, well, step up. I 'waited' (no other words for it) for my elder sister for decades, weathering endless slights - so painful! I have at long last given up waiting or expecting anything at all. A terrible family situation 5 years ago brought things into relief and I made the decision to cut contact with my siblings. It is a joy.

You were neglected by your mum and now you're neglected by your sisters - on and on it goes in families like this. Your husband also doesn't seem to recognise your needs and, whether intentionally or not, has contributed to the fragile bonds with your sisters. You seem surrounded by people who are myopic, only focused on their own needs.

What's wrong with 3 sisters getting on and being in one another's lives? What indeed. You're not going to get it from this lot. Ime the wanting, waiting and longing was the agonising part; once I gave up it was infinitely less painful. To be fair it is still painful but only a barely perceptible background hum now and again. I would love to have a functioning family but I don't and that's that.

Have you had any therapy to address your childhood neglect? The wanting/waiting/longing can become an entrenched theme in life and we can get into the habit of putting up with crumbs from the people we care about - who ultimately don't deserve our love.

tinfoilhat Sat 30-Jan-16 22:13:28

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and respond. I really do appreciate it.

Yes, I agree that my DH is a huge factor in what has happened. We have had many an argument about my family, he cannot believe that I can't see they want nothing to do with me and as he sees it 'they've done f**k-all for us since we've had the kids even though they knew we were going through a tough time.' I was embarrassed by his disappearing behaviour and told him so, he sees it that he was ashamed at being unemployed for so long and that people should have been understanding, I think that's an excuse. I spoke to my sisters at the time about DH's behaviour and when I had the big 'talk' with them - I said he was wrong to act the way he had, I explained his reasons but said I didn't agree and tried to explain to them how torn I was between them and my DH. It felt like both parties were expecting me to choose sides and how could I possibly do that, especially when children are involved? I have spoken on here before about my DH and the problems we face - but our DC absolutely adore him and miss him terribly when he's at work. (Which has been the past 2.5 years.) It feels like a case of being unhappy to stay but it not being awful enough to break up a family over.

The family dynamics, yes, a huge factor and so hard to explain. I see the 1 of 3 being a common issue. My sisters and brother had a very different life up to when I was born, which was when things only started to get a little easier financially for my parents, so they often said it's like there was one family life before I was born and then a different family afterwards. As I grew up I was aware they thought I had it 'easy' compared to them and I wonder now if this is a subconcious payback at me.
It's true that they're in a similar life situation now, all kids either at uni or starting first jobs, homes now empty, but I naively thought this would mean they would be pleased to have little ones in the family again and that they'd enjoy being close to them, as they weren't with each other's children when they were little. I wish I could explain their opinions on me better, but truth is I don't know, they've never explained, only insomuch as I have relayed here.

I am close to my Dad, my sisters see very little of him and so I try to visit as often as I can to make up for this somehow....I know he misses them. I see my brother whenever I see my Dad as he lives nearby. Dad enjoys seeing us very much, but he's a 'watcher' and doesn't play with the children or talk that much to them. He is their only living grandparent though so I try to involve him as much as I can.

I realise I may have sounded harsh about my middle sister, but honestly, she is a law unto herself. Because of her ill-thoughtout actions, my father couldn't have all the family together for his 80th last year, it would have been the first time all the grandchildren were together. Her arrogance is astounding, her view is always the right one and she has a knack of making you feel a complete fool when talking about something she doesn't agree with. I do feel that she has played some part in my eldest sister withdrawing, as she also withdrew from Dad around the same time and he's none the wiser either. She tried to do similar with me when we were close, even taking the mickey out of me for going home for Christmas a couple of years before Mum's stroke. Her view of our parents is very low, and I understand we all have different relationships with them, but she definitely tried to convince me to keep away (for my own good) and so it seems like she's now doing the same with my eldest sister. Of course, this could be me trying to explain eldest sister's behaviour as being not her decision and therefore make it not so hurtful!

I agree that going NC will hurt me more than it will hurt them. I also agree that I need to step back and readjust my expectations - I must except that they do not want the relationship I want and they do not see family as I see it.

I've kept saying 'I'll give it one more try' each time there's a birthday/occasion and I say to them that I'd like to see them more and then nothing happens. Reminds me of the saying about what's the definition of an idiot? Keep doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome....
I do miss them terribly though, every single day. No one to talk to about Mum (brother is quite non-verbal due to ASD) no one to laugh over a family joke with - it's like a massive chunk of family history is just gone. And it especially feels like all the significant females in my life have just disappeared in such a short space of time. I think that's why I keep clinging on so much, it's not just losing my two sisters, it's all that they represent and connect with too.

I'm trying to move on....

tinfoilhat Sat 30-Jan-16 22:20:28

Just seen your post, thank you. More wise words. I'm sorry you've been through similar. That hit home about myopic people...

Yes, I did have therapy years ago and it certainly seemed to help me understand a little why Mum was the way she was and I managed to accept her much more. But your words... The wanting/waiting/longing can become an entrenched theme in life have really struck a chord in me, a real sudden realisation.

Isetan Sun 31-Jan-16 06:29:20

Your father doesn't sound actively interested in your children either so I'm not sure why you overcompensate for his lack of contact with his other GC and appears to be another example of a drive that isn't rooted in the reality of the situation.

It sounds like your stuck and a bit isolated, Clinging to and desperately trying to make unsatisfactory relationships work because you don't have alternatives. Families aren't a guaranteed source of love and support (you just need to read the Stately Homes thread to dispel that myth) and your family's dynamic, has never lived up to your fantasy.

Your kicked puppy analogy sounds like you've very much positioned yourself as the victim in this story, whose good endeavours go unrewarded. This mindset places the responsibility for your unhappiness on others and not on the person who has the ability to change it, which is you. Doing the same things with the expectation of a different outcome, is where madness lies.

It's time stop hiding in unsatisfactory relationships and start carving out friendships that nurture and fulfil.

sianihedgehog Sun 31-Jan-16 06:53:36

I don't actually understand how the situation is a problem... They seem to be being perfectly nice, given the circumstances. They visit occasionally with gifts for the kids, they talk to you, the lines of communication are sufficiently open that they can say what a prick your husband is (that's the only thing that really stands out as shitty behaviour), you just seem to be sad that you aren't as close as children are. That's just what happens as adults, I think. You don't have those intense friendships as much, and you almost never have them with the people you did as a kid. You're all at very different places in life, and your husband makes it clear that he dislikes them. There are a thousand tiny misunderstandings and slights on both sides that you all seem to be desperate to hang on to and ascribe meaning to, but honestly, none of it sounds worse than carelessness (except your husband, who is trying to cut you off from family). Honestly, just try to make some mum friends to share your daily trials and tribulations, and let your relationship with your sisters be what it is.

tinfoilhat Sun 31-Jan-16 20:28:20

Isetan He is interested, he says he enjoys seeing the children and misses us if we miss a week, but admits that he's not 'hands on'.
I would agree, I am stuck, and yes, it would appear that I am seeing myself as the victim here. I realise that I have to let go of my unrealistic expectations.

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