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help me get over this and sort it - blaardy sister

(3 Posts)
stroppyknickers Sat 25-Oct-08 08:52:43

v briefly, as it's too hard to give an objective outline of the last 20 years. little sister and i were never that close as teenagers, we are quite different. dad died in our teens, we were both ill afterwards and she resented the attention i got, apparently. we did different things at uni, she got married and emigrated. they have no money and live in poverty - he keeps losing jobs and my family are forever paying off credit cards etc. they also help us out so its not a competition on that front. she has never wanted any closeness, never responded to me trying to be sisterly and i find her prickly and not girl friendly (she has v few female friends). last year, we put off an antenatal Kings hospital appointment to travel to my mums as sister came over on a rare visit. we knew that our baby was possibly disabled. this was apparently annoying for her as she had looked forward to a holiday and yet again i was getting the attention. Anyway, we left early as she refused to acknowledge us after a few days.
I could go on and on with my side, but anyway. Last night mum rang ranting about sister's dh again, and we ended up rowing. I think she should leave rather than stick it out leeching off everyone, mum is bitterly hurt that sis and i don't speak. I did write after the holiday fiasco and she never replied. What now?

OptimistS Sat 25-Oct-08 09:40:19

Oh what a horrible situation. Poor you. To be honest, I can't really offer much advice because I don't know any of you. But I can offer a few observations based on parallels with me and my sister's relationship.

My sister and I were never that close growing up. She felt that I was the favourite, and although we had a very good childhood and were loved equally, her experiences would have made her feel like that. I was the much stronger personality and allowed a lot more freedoms as a result. Coupled with the fact that parents do tend to be more relaxed with the second child, I can see why she feels that I had it easier and was the favourite. Is that maybe what's going on with your sister? A case of sibling rivlary gone to the extreme?

About 10 years ago, my sister and I fell out very badly when she left her first husband. I felt she had treated him really badly. We never stopped talking to each other because that's just not how we behave in our family, but contact was kept to a minimum and conversations were cold and polite. Then she got remarried to a great guy had her first child and I found out a few things about the reasons why she left her first husband (he was abusive). I felt awful for misjudging her so badly, and although in my defence I didn't know what was going on because she never told anyone, it doesn't alter the fact that I shouldn't have been so quick to judge and when she needed people most I wasn't there. We had many months of long, tearful conversations sorting out all the problems that there had ever been between us since childhood, and these days we are very close indeed, despite the fact that she lives on the other side of the world.

My point is that your sister may feel like a complete failure measured up to you (which is how my sister felt about me), and this can come out as open hostility towards you. If you really want to improve things, you need to be prepared to do a lot of work and you'll sometimes feel that you're making all the effort while she isn't. Your sister is probably quite down, feeling second-best her whole life, worried about money and possibly in a miserable marriage. If she has low self-esteem like this, she will be instantly defensive the minute you try to offer advice about how to improve her lot, and she will see it as criticsm, so stop. The best thing you can do when you see her is try to turn the focus on her and compliment her on things that she does well. Lay off the subject of her marriage. Even if her husband is a loser, if she loves him and she wants to stay married to him, that's up to her, no one else. If she wants to leave but lacks the courage, pressing from her family will only make things worse. You need to establish a relationship of trust before she will open up to you about it.

I think maybe another letter might help. Try writing it from your sister's point of view. Imagine how she must feel and write that you can understand why she feels like that (even if you don't). Sometimes just acknowledging another's feelings goes a long way towards bridge-building. Say that you hope you can put the past behind you both and build a good relationship for the future because, despite your problems, she is your sister and you love her. Then leave the ball in her court. If you get no response then you may have to accept that your sister is always going to be difficult and there's nothing you can do about it, but at least you'll know you've tried your best.

stroppyknickers Sun 26-Oct-08 07:39:54

Thankyou OptimistS. What you have said makes a lot of sense; the onloy difference being she dislikes her dh and plans to leave once she has finished buying some land apparently. I like the odea pf not mentioning the past ina new letter - i think that would just make me crosser.

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