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Relationship with twin sister and recent fallout

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falaff Fri 30-Oct-20 19:37:07

Hi all,

Sorry this is long.

I have a strained and unhappy relationship with my identical twin sister. We were inseparable until we were 18 and then slipped further and further apart. She now lives in America. We have always argued and it is often petty. I have been trying very hard over the last few years not to fall out but it never seems to work. I feel like it is all very childish and it is mostly her and I can't seem to fix it.

One of the major things that I struggle with is that she will be very unkind, or voice an unwanted/upsetting opinion, and is regularly nasty and is strong with her words, always over messenger/text. If I get upset or take offense she accuses me of being over sensitive and 'wanting to fight' and that she is sick of me.

An example is excitedly showing her the house I had my offer accepted on and had saved up my whole life to buy, and her telling me that I could 'do better' was it was 'beyond her' as to why I would want to live in a tiny terrace. I can't afford a 5 bed house in huge grounds like she can in America and my house is lovely. I was disappointed that she didn't at least pretend to be happy for me and mentioned this to my Mum. She then fell out with me for being oversensitive and trying to cause issues not allowing anyone to have an opinion. The words she used were very cutting.

We have recently fallen out very badly and I am affected to the point where I am having nightmares. She made me a present and sent it from America to my parents, who I do not live with. I didn't have chance to get it for a while because of covid. When I visited I was in a rush and with my partner and said I would open it later. I was told there was a letter that I had to read and I felt awkward opening it with everyone gawping. I also wanted to give it the time it deserved. I got back to my house very late, jumped in my partner's car and then spent the next 2 days in work until 11pm and staying with my partner. I left the present in my car by accident.

On the second night when I was still in work (I told her this and apologised for not opening it) she sent me a long message saying how much I had hurt her and how much time and money she had spent on it. She said that I am the most selfish person she knows and that my feelings are always more important than others. She said that she is 'done with me' and she cannot cope with how self centered I am. She said a lot more and in very harsh words. I apologised again and explained why (I was still in work at this point), but she wouldn't listen. I had a panic attack in my car on the way home.

She has since not spoken to me for over a month. She has ignored the fact that I have got a puppy (a huge thing and she knows this) and has ignored my messages. All this because I was busy and made a mistake. Despite her comments about my selfishness I actually didn't open the present because I was thinking about others - staying for dinner to make my parents happy; driving back for 2 hours because my partner was tired; staying for hours in work to reach a deadline because no-one else would do it. I know I made a mistake and I am very sorry that I upset her, but I was enhausted. I am not the selfish awful person she says I am and it hurts so much to hear these words.

In addition, I find the present difficult because she is so regularly nasty to me. I honestly feel like she didn't really do it for me but for her (she enjoys making things and got a new tool). I don't know how to explain it. My Mum told me about the present when I made a comment that my sister had upset me again, and she said 'if you could only see what she's made you you'd know she really loves you'. I then felt guilt tripped into accepting her hurtful words because of this.

Her words are so cutting and affect me more and more. I just can't cope with how she talks to me and I want to tell her that I won't accept it anymore. It is affecting my mental health and my relationship with my partner and my parents. At the same time I am terrified of saying this to her because we are identical twins and should be the best of friends and I worry I will lose her. I can't do it anymore though.

Please be kind; I know it sounds so childish and small but there is a huge history and a difficult dynamic and I'm finding it very upsetting.

OP’s posts: |
falaff Fri 30-Oct-20 19:38:02

Sorry that was so long, there's so much to say and there's is a big history, it's hard to get it all down.

OP’s posts: |
Krampusasbabysitter Fri 30-Oct-20 19:55:57

If you are working such long hours, it seems not a good idea to get a puppy. Especially, if you canot even spare a few seconds to open a bloody present. I feel sorry for your poor DM with the two of you being such drama llamas!

Krampusasbabysitter Fri 30-Oct-20 19:56:33

*cannot

MyOwnSummer Fri 30-Oct-20 20:02:48

This sounds really hard, and complicated. I guess the first thing is to decide is what you want out of this situation.

Do you want her to change? Do you want her to leave you alone? Do you want the relationship to be close again, or just civil?

It might be worth talking this through with a counsellor if you're up for that. They might be able to go into detail and help you understand where this is coming from, then build your strategy accordingly.

falaff Fri 30-Oct-20 20:07:39

Krampusasbabysitter

If you are working such long hours, it seems not a good idea to get a puppy. Especially, if you canot even spare a few seconds to open a bloody present. I feel sorry for your poor DM with the two of you being such drama llamas!

Thanks for that helpful comment. This was a one-off deadline and I am quite capable of looking after a puppy. That is a small side note and isn't the point of this thread.

I physically didn't have the present with me because I stayed at my partner's house near work and I explained that to her. I was going to open it when I got home later. Yes I maybe had a second when I got into the car but I was stressed and in a rush to do a 2 hour journey before midnight after I felt pressured to stay. I didn't say I was blamless but it was a slip up and not intentional.

I genuinely don't think my actions justify such words, and as I said, there's a history of this. I am looking for a way to cope with this repeated behaviour from her.

OP’s posts: |
Aquamarine1029 Fri 30-Oct-20 20:09:16

I think you should see a therpist, honestly. You may have to learn to accept that you will never have the relationship you want with your sister.

Coconut80 Fri 30-Oct-20 20:16:27

Ask for your thread to be moved to the stately homes thread you will find care, compassion and wise words there. I've found it so helpful over the years with my problematic family dynamic. Your twin sounds very difficult and quiet ununderstanding and abusive with her words. Does it follow a pattern of her lashing out and you apologising. Yes she may love you as your mother says but that doesn't give her the right to annihilate you with her cruel words.
Please join the stately homes and I hope you find peace xxx

falaff Fri 30-Oct-20 20:18:08

MyOwnSummer

This sounds really hard, and complicated. I guess the first thing is to decide is what you want out of this situation.

Do you want her to change? Do you want her to leave you alone? Do you want the relationship to be close again, or just civil?

It might be worth talking this through with a counsellor if you're up for that. They might be able to go into detail and help you understand where this is coming from, then build your strategy accordingly.

I would love nothing more than a close and kind relationship with my sister. I yearn for it. I feel like this is a huge part of my poor mental health and I feel like a failure. My parents have told me that they feel like failures because we don't get on and that puts even more pressure on me.

I never speak to her the way she does. There's so much hate and seemingly no consideration for how it affects me. She knows that I am a sensitive person and she seems to relish in saying whatever she wants.

Since her wedding 3 years ago where she treated me awfully I made a promise to myself to be as kind as possible and not be responsible for arguments, but it never works. She says it's all me but I just can't see it. I feel like everything gets twisted to be my fault or she will trap me and play games. I find her rude, bossy and manipulative and she will find ways to be upset or angry with me. For example, I didn't know anything about the fires in California, because I don't watch the news right now. But apparently that makes me an awful uncaring person because I should have said something about it.

I can't see a happy outcome without either of us undergoing a major personality transplant. Either her becoming kind again, or me being able to accept verbal abuse from her.

Honestly I cry myself to sleep about it. I feel like I don't have a sister anymore. She's my identical twin, we should be so close.

OP’s posts: |
falaff Fri 30-Oct-20 20:22:02

@Aquamarine1029 and @Coconut80 thank you. You are right and it is extremely painful. I feel awful accusing her of being so horrible, and part of me wonders if I am too sensitive or if it is me. But her words are there in black and white. Honestly if I tohought someone was that awful I would cut them out of my life, but if I do that she will say I am the awful one for being overly sensitive.

I think right now it is damage mitigation. I don't know what the answer is and I don't think I am ready to lose my sister. But this past month has been so painful.

I am on the waiting list for therapy but it has been two years. I am trying to save for some private therapy.

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StevieBudd Fri 30-Oct-20 20:22:37

I think it’s always very difficult when you don’t get on with a sibling probably even more so when it’s a twin and the pressure from family. I think you might benefit from some therapy to work through this. Sometimes no matter how much we desire something it might not come to pass and sadly you might never have the relationship you so wish for with your sister.

Lightsontbut Fri 30-Oct-20 20:39:27

I really identify with your situation. I have an older sister, though not much older (10 months). She insults me like your sister does, usually via email and invariably when I don't do what she wants and she wants a lot as she is very controlling. We've not spoken for 6 months and although there is sadness - a lot in fact - the distance also has enabled some clarity and enabled me to see more clearly that the way she talks to me is not OK. I'm not perfect by any means but if I forget something, or make an imperfect choice in a tricky situation, this is not evidence of my being selfish or wrong. This is evidence of me being human. My sister is a very troubled woman and when under any threat she is hugely aggressive. I think she actually wants to connect with people but in reality she drives them away. She too emigrated and I think that was, in her case, a running away from her troubles here and some of her current aggression is a sign that she has discovered that he troubles follow her and in addition she's lost most of her support networks. I think your sister might be similar in some ways. Really what she feels is rejected and that hurts her - her defense is aggression. It's horrible to be on the receiving end of but this is not a hoop to try and jump through. You've apologised - and rightly so as you didn't handle the present situation well. Whether your sister accepts the apology is up to her.

Eckhart Fri 30-Oct-20 20:56:33

she accuses me of being over sensitive

This always makes my ears prick up. Does she think there is some pre-written level of sensitive that we're all supposed to be? If she loves you, and has done something that has upset you, her priority ought to be finding out what's gone wrong and how you can sort it out together. Instead she is defending herself and blaming you.

This is not a healthy relationship. Holding on to an ideal of how you would like it to be is stopping you from setting your boundaries and sticking to them.

She's my identical twin, we should be so close

This is a fantasy. Many twins don't get on.

Leave her be for a while. You don't have to make a decision about how it'll be in the future right now, but it sounds like you need to spend some time reconfiguring your expectations, and you don't need her for that. She may settle and mellow over time, and she doesn't need you for that.

Counselling, perhaps? Or writing everything down, just to get it all out? Your feelings are being minimised by your sister and your mum - it's time to big them up for yourself. Your feelings matter.

roara Fri 30-Oct-20 21:05:09

Being an identical twin can be hard. The inevitable comparisons, the expectations that you have lots in common and the assumptions that you will be close. Please be kinder to yourself. Reduce your expectations of what your relationship should be and try CBT

falaff Fri 30-Oct-20 21:30:34

Thank you everyone. It is almost a relief knowing that at least some people understand that being a twin is hard and that it doesn't automatically mean we should be best friends.

The more it goes on, the more I think that counselling is essential for me to be able to deal with this in the long term. I think I am in denial and need to be able to change how I view the relationship and be able to accept it for what it is instead of what I think it should be.

I was thinking of writing my sister a letter over the next few days to sypathise for how she is feeling about the present and apologise again, as she is clearly upset, and if I want her to care about my feelings no matter what they are then I should care about hers too. But I would also like to apportion a large part of the letter to explaining how I am not willing to accept harsh words and silent treatment and that things need to change if we are to repair or maintain a relationship.

OP’s posts: |
Eckhart Fri 30-Oct-20 21:55:29

You've already apologised. Your feelings are hurt. Why do you feel you should be repeatedly apologising? Your sister isn't apologising, is she. By continually telling her you're sorry when she has hurt you, you continually perpetuate the unhealthy dynamic of the relationship.

Spend some time looking after yourself, instead of looking after the relationship you have with your sister. Give yourself the support you wish you had from her. Strengthen your resolve to respect your own feelings before trying to contact her again. You can't fix a relationship with somebody who is telling you they're done with you. You can wait though, until they feel differently. And in the meantime, you can fix your relationship with yourself.

PrawnofthePatriarchy Fri 30-Oct-20 22:04:30

I was thinking of writing my sister a letter over the next few days.

But what's the point? Because from what you say there's no realistic chance that anything will change. Writing would be just another attempt to change your relationship but is it likely to be any more effective than the umpteen other times you've tried?

You have no chance of changing your twin. What you can do is change how you react to her.

Back right off. Work on not reacting to her provocation. If your parents have a go, tell them gently that although you love her your sister has been so hurtful that you've decided to keep her at arm's length. Then do it.

Iggypoppie Fri 30-Oct-20 22:07:34

The sister relationship can be so hard, I'm in a similar position and it's horrible.

happytoday73 Fri 30-Oct-20 22:21:19

You don't have the ability to change your twin... Only she does. Writing to her will just give her more ammunition.

BUT
You do have the ability to effect how you react to your twin.... This is what you need to concentrate on for your own wellbeing and future happiness.
The great additional advantage is she is a long way away... Take that advantage... Use it to your advantage.

And I say this with good intentions.. For god sake stop apologising to her.

ZombieAttack Fri 30-Oct-20 22:24:53

Firstly you need to stop apologising. Secondly you need to realise that you aren’t going to have the relationship with her that you want, she isn’t that person. She isn’t going to change.

I would go low contact with her, back off. Stop reacting. You can only change how you react.

AnneLovesGilbert Fri 30-Oct-20 22:36:12

So you still haven’t opened it?

Why is it affecting your relationships with your partner and parents? Do they agree with your sister?

It all sounds extremely fraught.

Aquamarine1029 Fri 30-Oct-20 22:39:05

FFS, stop apologising. Can't you see she feeds off of that? Your pandering to her is only exacerbating this dysfunctional dynamic.

Apileofballyhoo Fri 30-Oct-20 22:44:20

You need to accept that there is no pleasing some people, that you're never going to have a friendly relationship with her, and she's always going to complain to your parents about you. You're going to have to develop a thicker skin. Apologise for these supposed slights i.e. "oh that's terrible about the fires, I didn't know, so glad you're ok, sorry I wasn't in touch, I would have been if I'd known". And then leave it. If your parents bring up some complaint she's made about you, tell them you apologised and there's nothing more you can do.

Stop expecting her to be nice or supportive or happy for you when things happen in your life. She's not that person. Don't bother sharing things with her if she's likely to be negative.

Don't mention her to your parents. Don't go running to them when she says something unkind to you or fails to be happy for you. They can't force her. They can't fix her. Find someone else to tell if you need emotional support.

I went no contact with a sibling. I don't regret it. You have to do what's right for you.

Be glad she lives very far away.

Sssloou Fri 30-Oct-20 22:53:50

Did you really have a close RS until you were 18? Or were you enmeshed, unequal?

What happened then - did your lives take different paths - uni? careers? Boyfriends?

What was your parents RS like - equal? Always kindness and respectful? Or not?

This dynamic where you are subjugated and scapegoated has come from somewhere?

falaff Fri 30-Oct-20 22:54:37

Thanks everyone, you are all very wise, but it is difficult to hear and accept.

I think I am finding this so hard because it's unresolved. I'm not at peace with it and I feel a huge urge to fix it and do something about it. I feel in limbo. She hasn't read my messages and she's not reaching out to me.

My parents say how upset they are that we don't get on. They treat it as a 'we' issue. They put equal weighting on my sister being upset over a mistake vs. my upset at deliberate nastiness from my sister, which upsets me further, as I want and need their support. I think I need them to recognise the imbalance and call my sister up on this.

I've literally just had this conversation with my Mum:

Mum: have you made up with your sister?
Me: I apologised but she won't accept it. She hasn't read my messages or reached out. She is actively ignoring me. I am still hurt that she said such awful things about me.
Mum: I wish you two would get on. It breaks our hearts. You'll never understand how much it hurts us. How can you treat us like this?
Me: I am sorry but I have apologised for my mistake. Apart from repeat it there's not much more I can do.
Mum: Why can't you just move on and forget it? Why can't you tell her how sorry you are? Can you not understand why she is upset?
Me: It was a mistake and not worthy of her attack. She has hurt me and I shouldn't have to accept that.
Mum: Just move on and apologise again and be friends. I don't want to get involved.

etc.... etc.... every time. It's like an awful guilt trip. I feel like I am a teenager seeking reassurance from my parents - I'm mid 30s for god's sake.

I am starting to understand why I am getting more and more upset and have less tollerance - I am constantly having to supress my emotions and feelings without a resolution that is acceptable to me.

The letter - I think it is about closure and making my intentions very clear, that I will not accept this behaviour from her.

It sounds stupid but I am absolutely gutted and incredibly sad that she has ignored me getting a dog. We have talked about it for the past 15 years. I am not going to have children - the dog is essentially like my child (as is hers). It is utterly life changing for me. To me it's like your sister ignoring you having a baby. Altough I fully appreciate that many people don't feel that way about their pets!

OP’s posts: |

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