Boundaries...Please read Copa and Cedar...please answer. Thanks.

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by SomewhereOutThere, Sep 9, 2015.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Wow. I just re-read the last e-mail my sister wrote me before going silent and it was soooooo interesting to read her take on something and my own response and I'd like feedback. I admit boundaries confuse me. Not obvious boundaries, but t he gray areas, and there are some.

    In her letter she wrote that my refusing to let her talk about her abusive boyfriend is my trying to manipulate her and forcing her to be silent is a form of manipulation. I understand t hat point of view (although sh e wouldn't let me talk about our mother).

    I responded that I was only setting a boundary because loved her and was upset listening to her talk about what he does to her non-stop and that we almost never talk about anything else. I said t hat if she wants to talk about him, I can not be her go-to person. I told her I was protecting myself from my own anxiety.

    From my point of view, that's what I did. I could not have kept talking to her if she kept bringing him up. It is hard for me to listen to how a loved one is abused, let alone for three years. In my e-mail I said three years, so it probably was. Seems longer. She also said she doesn't like to talk about Mother because I bash her and it's hurtful to her because she loved her. I do get that. But we DID have boundaries about who we could and could not talk about.

    So my question is, what is an acceptable boundary when it is not physical? And when does "boundary" actually mean abuse? It can be used as both, I feel. So can no contact. It can be for your own protection or to punish the other person.

    Ok, about boundaries: I know that I should not step too close to somebody when I talk to them (hate when somebody does that to me, I step back). I know I have no business on somebody's property. I know I shouldn't take anything that doesn't belong to me. I have a very bad habit, which she brought up and rightfully so, of my thoughts racing so much (hypo-manic, ADHD? Not sure) that I interupt people when they talk. I am working hard on t hat. It is difficult for me to do this, but I'd say cutting somebody off is also not respecting their boundaries so guilty as charged there.I am a huggy person and know to ask first if I can give the person a hug. I know better than to bend down and pet somebody's dog without asking for many reasons. I know the things that are obvious.

    Was I wrong, do you feel? I'm su re many people would have different opinions on t his.

    At any rate, I knew she would probably have trouble with this boundary (I call it a boundary) and was not that surprised she had another cut off. Interestingly, she says that silencing somebody is a boundary infraction, but she does it. However, that is neither here nor there. I'm asking you two what you think. Frankly, this conversation was full of "I love yous" and it made my eyes mist up. I remember how much I did love her. She loved me too. It is documented. But I honestly was having a hard time listening to her talk about the boyfriend and it was a stressor in my life as we spoke often. In my heart, I know I couldn't listen anymore. She did say she'd call me when she was ready and not to text, e-mai or call her, which I have not. (She's the one who has).

    I think we both have good points...but what about then not letting me talk about the extreme hurt mother put me through? She didn't want to hear it because it hurt her. Isn't that the same thing? She says it's not t he same thing.

    Now in between the loving notes we sent each other, with her saying she'd call me when she was ready, she decided to go no contact and is telling her peeps on her anon. site that I abused her. She sure never said that to me.


    I'm the first one to admit I am not perfect. I had so many problems early on that I was a mess. Myy mother was a mess. My mother/myself. I was not always easy to get along with, but neither was she. My method was to say it, hers was to run. Or the cops...that is my biggest memory of her.The cops. The fear of the cops. Which is partly why we moved.

    But I don't want to go off topic.

    I am starting to belief a boundary is set up to protect ourselves from anything th at harms us and that if the other person doesn't agree with the boundary, then it is probably better not to engage. There is no way my sister would have let me tell her all the stuff Mother did to me. She didn't want to know; didn't want to believe. There was no way I wanted to hear any more about this abusive boyfriend. I got so stressed and nervous about it that it was affecting me after our calls. I believed and still do that he could snap and hurt her. But he hadn't yet. But he did emotionally and had traits of a violent man...jealousy, checking up on her whereabouts, making sure she was at home, etc.

    Maybe I watch the I.D. channel too much (true crime).

    Anyhow, wanted to share as I am left with this dilemma in my mind: What is a boundary and when is it manipulation/abuse?

    Please answer, here or privately, but I really want to know your points of view.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Love this article! Tell me what you think of it. I believe t he article is saying boudaries are not for the other person, but for us. Therefore, we may see boundaries differently.

    Boundaries don’t mean that you don’t love or care about them or that you will lose approval or even lose them out of your life completely, and if the latter is the case, that’s a very insecure existence that you cannot sustain.

    You ‘growing up’ and having your own life that includes them shouldn’t be something that threatens your family but yes, sometimes it’s how they feel. Being a doormat is only going to make you miserable and continue the dysfunction.

    I get so many people asking me how I deal with family trying to bust boundaries and I get just as many declaring that boundaries are “impossible” with family, which just isn’t true. Granted, there are some people, family or not, who will try to get their way by hook or by crook because they’re at the abusive end of the spectrum and just like you don’t negotiate with terrorists, I wouldn’t negotiate with your emotional health. It is painful to have to distance or even completely opt out for your safety, but if doing so allows you to live your life without torment, take it. If you’re thinking you can people please to create a tipping point of change, you’re making the mistake of seeing you as an extension of these people which is co-dependency.

    It’s critical not to confuse your discomfort or their reaction to you not kow-towing to their rules or allowing them to direct you, with the validity of boundaries.

    Boundaries are for you. You’re not doing it to influence or even control the behaviour of others; you say no, you have boundaries and you set limits because you know what does and doesn’t work for you and you want to be happy. It’s not about you working out guidelines for others; it’s about deciding how you want to live and living it.

    They’re going to respond however they’re going to respond and experience has taught me that it’s best not to go around with your fancy-pants boundaries expecting people to be rewarding you, praising you, or even telling them about how you want things to be. Just get on with it.

    It’s been a process of trial and error and it will be a process of trial and error for you. Learn as you go, don’t expect to get it ‘right’ first time or even the fifth or fifteenth time but do realise that you will gradually see progress over time although you might not recognise it at the time.

    It’s best to start off with known factors – it’s amazing how many people act ‘surprised’ about stuff that’s been going on for ages. You know exactly where, which and how family members tend to jump or rattle your fence – work out the best alternative response for you.

    I worked out several years ago after a stern talking to from my acupuncturist about holding myself hostage on phone calls, that I didn’t need to say “My boundary is that I don’t want to spend two hours on the phone with you draining the sh*t out of me each day”; I just needed to show it by having shorter calls, having opt out reasons ready, and saying something as simple as “I can’t talk right now”. The sky did not fall down.

    Some people if given an inch will take a mile. Or they’ll at least try. Just because someone takes the chance and asks, doesn’t mean that asking equals you must acquiesce.

    They can and will try the guilt card but it’s best to stick to the facts. I appreciate that I came out of my mother’s womb or that somebody else did something for me, but that doesn’t mean that I owe boundary busts.

    Do stuff because you want to and would do it without expecting something back. Don’t do it for approval or to put an IOU in the system.

    Stop trying to control outcomes. Let the chips fall where they may. I learned this the hard way with the wedding, the being ganged upon (apparently it’s called ‘family’) and going through a grieving process of sorts – people are going to say what they’re going to say, think what they’re going to think and do what they’re going to do, so it’s best to get on with the business of being you.

    It did not matter whether I compromised or didn’t compromise, I would still have been talked about and there would still have been a fallout, and actually, it all needed to happen.

    If you want to do a favour and can do it, plus it doesn’t involve you eroding your self-esteem, knock yourself out. I like doing things for my mother for instance; what I don’t like is being harangued or guilted into something by anybody including myself. If you’re being asked to do something that goes against your own values or is even illegal, decline and don’t feel guilty about it. Yes of course you can go and rob a shop if asked but does it mean you should say yes?

    Family doesn’t equal being contracted do criminal work.

    If you’re being asked to compromise on something that’s about you or your arrangement, decide what works for you and then let them know. It might not be exactly what they wanted but it’s your compromise so they also have to compromise. My family didn’t want my stepfather walking me down the aisle but I said both could or only he would so they had to suck it up.

    If you’re the only one being expected to compromise, that’s not compromising; it’s losing.

    Don’t be wishy-washy and passive. I know it’s easy to agree now, backtrack later or to make disagreeing noises or vague protestations without actually saying ‘No’ or whatever it is you’re being indirect about, but when you hint, that means no direct message and opening you up to negotiation. I offered to do something, they then asked for something else, I did say no but then I also sort of intimated that I might be able to do the other. This morning I said, “This is what I’m doing [the original offer]” and they accepted it. Be direct and firm.

    If you show fear to family members who know how to play you, they know your ‘tell’ or even your Achilles heel, so look at how you can neutralise your tell (it could be as simple as not biting the bait when they create conflict) or addressing the vulnerability.

    Nobody can use something against you that you’re not using against you.

    Always remember that a lot of how people react to you not jumping to their beat as you used to, is about their discomfort in their comfort zone but it’s not up to you to manage that so get on with managing your own comfort…with boundaries.
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I love this. Boundaries, even the one I gave Sis about boyfriend, always made me feel guilty, although I have to admit this boundary didn't make me feel TOO guilty. I felt it was valid. I did it for myself. In the past, I let people walk all over me and set no limits at all regardless of how upset I got. I just felt *I* didn't matter nor did my feelings.
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I love this too. I stopped trying to change people. I know it doesn't work. I still did angst over outcomes. I won't anymore. Thank you, whoever wrote this.
  5. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    Ok here are some of my thoughts. I totally agree setting boundaries is about what is good for you and what you need. The thing is though is the other person may have a reaction to that boundary which you might not intend but will happen anywaay... and sometimes, but definitely not always, it is important to consider that.

    I know for me if I am told a topic is off limits then I feel shut down, especially if it is one that is important to me.... so in a sense I do feel kind of infringed upon. Although I certainly get that sometimes a subject is too painful or hard for the other person to talk about and they certainly have a right to set that boundary. Sometimes it is very important to do this.... years ago I finally told me sister in law and brother in law to stop telling me the crazy, stupid, hurtful but so ridiculous they were funny things my mother in law said about me. They have totally respected my request and my relationship with my mother in law is better for it. I am sure at times she still says terrible things about me but now I dont know it and I am better off.

    In the case of your sister, I am guessing she felt shut down especially as I am sure dealing with her abusive boyfriend is rather paramount in her life. I have worked in domestic violence and it is a tough cycle and hard to know how to support someone who is in it. The thing is abusive men will try and isolate their partners from any and all support because that makes it much harder to leave...because to leave an abusive relationship takes a lot of support from loved ones. So in your sisters case, being shut down may have made her feel isolated from you.... and the fact is abusive relationships by definitiion have huge boundary issues.... so your setting that boundary probably made her very uncomfortable. I can also see where hearing details of the problems with the boyfriend is very anxiety producing for you... in a way it forces you to live her trauma and that is the last thing you need.

    Is there a way to modify the boundary so she can talk to you but not provide details?

    In the end though you do need to use and set boundaries to help yourself....but we have no control over how others will react to those boundaries.
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  6. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Toughlovin', I had talked to her about him for three years at least and it took up 70% of our conversations. I tried to fix her at first and tried to get her to like herself enough to leave him, as he was clearly mistreating her, but she didn't and it became clear as time went on that she won't, even if s he meets somebody willing to treat her well. She is sort of addicted to him. I was scared for him and frankly fed up with being her constant voice.

    When I had such a hard time with my mother I wanted my sister to intervene to soften my mother's heart, but she wouldn't even talk about her for one day, let alone three years.

    I, however, did truly set the boyfriend boundary for me. There was no way she would compromise. Her solution to everything is to cut one off from everything...texting, e-mails, letters, conversation. So you can't talk about compromise or get things on the table. She will run.

    I felt shut down not being able to talk about my mother's abuse of me to either of my siblings. They did not want to hear my pain because they didn't get scapegoated like I did.

    As I type this response I see more and more that it was an impossible situation, destined to end badly. My sister knows my mother was an inadequate mother to us.We had spoken about that many times. Yet she is now saying she did not abuse is just ingrained old family stuff that doesn't make a lot of sense.

    From now on, I guess, I will continue to set boundaries for me and not for the other person and if th e other person can't handle the boundary, they can do what they must.And if somebody sets a boundary for me, I will do the same.

    Thank you for answering.
  7. toughlovin

    toughlovin Well-Known Member

    That is exactly right.... you set the boundaries you need to set for you.... and if they cant handle it then they will do whatever they will do. My guess is your sisters sense of boundaries is pretty fouled up... because that is the nature of abusive relationships... as a victim your boundaries are constantly being violated so that you totally lose your sense of reasonable boundaries. And like addiction, a person in an abusive relationship will only leave when they are ready to do so... we cant make them do it, it is up to them.

    I am sorry you went through so much with your mother and that your siblings wont support you.
  8. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    When I become confused about what is happening between myself and those I love, it helps me to think about what healthy looks and feels like.

    What would it look and feel like, how would the conversation sound, between two healthy sisters, between a healthy father and daughter or son, between mates?

    Between friends.

    Once I have that concept, then I can see where the flavor of my relationships are unbalanced. I think so often of your posting the article on the difference between healthy families and dysfunctional families (and relationships) being a matter of degree, a matter of role flexibility. What I see between ourselves and our sisters is an insistence on their parts that we stay in that one-dimensional role of pseudo mom. We are there to listen, to be a source of comfort and sanity and hope. Those are all good things, but without the flow and exchange of real relationship, we slip into automaton: Nothing the sisters do is wrong because they are to be protected. That would explain why my sister could get away with anything and I would defend her to D H or my mother, or anyone, even myself. I believed in her. When her behaviors were bad, I believed she could do better.

    We are both in our sixties.


    My words for the change in how I feel about my sister today: "I believe you. I no longer believe in you."

    I am seeing what she does, and not believing she did not mean to do whatever the hurtful thing was.

    And when that happened? I didn't like my sister very much at all.


    Real relationship is about defining reality in a healthier, more strengthening way for both individuals.

    That requires us to state our truths as we see them and come into consensus on what was real about how we remember our stories. When you had questions about your mother's belief system, about hurtful things she had done (like when she refused to care for you after your first child's birth ~ that was so hurtful a thing) your sister refuses to hear you.

    Each of us has had to be very brave, to question our interpretations of our mothers, and of our stories. It is a hard thing, to question shame. To identify it and look at and taste it, and expose the hurt of it. It was very hard for me to do that, especially at first. I wondered what was the matter with me for thinking the way I was thinking about my own mother, or about my own sibs and etc.

    Maybe our sisters, still in relationship with the mother (or maybe, in relationship to the mother in a way that feels real for the first time) cannot address the ambivalence they feel regarding the mother. This is understandable. If my mother had not been so unremittingly mean, I would have been happy to love and be loved by her. Whatever happened in the past would not have mattered. But my mom, and yours too Serenity, though perhaps not Copa's, just kept doing the strangest, most hurtful things. (Remember my confusion over who was lying: me, or my mother. It took pages of determined chain of consciousness digging, it took imagery of strong witness, and it took having you and Copa to witness for me in real time, for me to come to some understanding of what was true and then, put those pieces together to figure out how what happened in my childhood was affecting me, today.)

    It even took D H validating that I remembered what I thought I remembered, correctly.


    I am wondering this morning whether the younger sisters see us only in this one-dimensional way...and whether we see them too, in one dimension: protected younger sib.

    That would be the two differing sides of the coin.

    When both sisters are interacting from the same reality (protector/protected) the coin can be spent. When one of us becomes healthier, the coin rings like a counterfeit thing. The sisters insist we are who they say. The hurt for us is that who they say we must be means we must carry the sister's unacknowledged ambivalence, and maybe even hatred, for the mother.

    We are pseudo mom. Our role is to protect from Witch Mother, and to carry the hatred the younger sibs feel for Witch Mother so they can love the real mother.

    That is why the way they hate us feels like some limitless, eyeless rage.

    That could be.

    I see that sense of entitlement in your sister's demands that her relationship to you look like it did when you both lived in Witch Mother's realm. She talks. You listen, encourage, believe she is better than she believes she is.

    Pseudo mom.

    But the sisters hate pseudo mom because Witch Mother hated pseudo mom, too.

    Pseudo mom questioned Witch Mother's grandiosity addicted authority.

    So, that's kind of a mess, but that is what I think happens not just to my sister or yours, but to all the sibs in dysfunctional families.

    Everyone has to remain frozen in their roles for the family to work. Just like we did when we were little girls, at some point we say: Up with this I will not put.

    So, Witch Mother, alive and voraciously well in her interactions with her adult children no matter how old everyone gets, no matter how frail the dysfunctional mother becomes, ridicules and victimizes and ostracizes that rebellious child who declares: Up with this I will not put.

    The selfsame patterns the abusive mother set up in the first place are the only patterns she will allow in her interactions with her children, and in their interactions with one another, all of her life.

    I will read the other responses, now.

    Your boundaries are correct, Serenity. It is like what I said to my sister in my last conversation with her: "I do love you. I love you too much to love you this way."

    For the sisters, if pseudo mom refuses to comfort and protect, there is nothing left but the ambivalence the sisters feel for Witch Mother. We carry that for them, too. If you think back Serenity, you always knew your sister did not love you the same way you loved her. In my relationship to my sister, there was always a feeling ~ almost like a mom feels ~ that I wanted her to do better. If she did better than me, that felt good, too. I'm not saying there wasn't sibling jealousy, but there was pride in my sister's beauty or accomplishments that she does not feel for me.

    I like what I said to my sister very much. It still rings true for me. I do love her. I do not love what she does, and I feel awful to know that she hates me but I think that she does. It is a correct thing for me to require more of her than the counterfeit version of sisterhood she is willing to give me.

    Up with this I will not put.

  9. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I will post the actual letters in private, but please read them. I was not an angel. I did not listen to her all the time. In fact, I have a horrible habit of interrupting people that everyone points out. I tried to analyze it and decided it came from my uber-racing thoughts. So that bugged her. I understand that.

    The thing is, I would quiet if she asked me too and that's throwing hayseed on the issue. I needed to talk to my brother or sister about how my mom threw me in the trash from my point of view. I am quite sure they both heard her point of view. The disinheritance didn't bother either of them. Neither even said, "Im sorry she did that to you." None of them were there either when me and my mom had horrible exchanges. I needed my siblings to listen to me, but they wouldn't.

    And they silenced me.

    I did not silence her about boyfriend because of that though. It wasn't payback. It was the love of a sister finally unable to hear the abuse of thi s boyfriend and sister's constant pattern of staying iwth him in spite of it over and over again. It drove me nuts and upset me at th e same time.

    My sister says that she has problems because she grew up with a borderline sister. How silly. You don't diagnose a ten year old with borderline. She was a mess because our parents made us that way and did not control us or stop us from being mean to one another or teach us that family was important. Yes, I teased her. Yes, mother heard. But do you think she's actually do anything about it? No. After all, it's hard to discipline a c hild, especially a child who may have a tantrum. God knows how I did it with Sonic, but SHE didn't want to boher. And even though she loved GC with a sickness of almost too much adoration, I believe, she never stopped Sis from telling her to " get him out of here. He's gross a nd ugly." Never. So those are on mother.

    I have read my sister's board about borderlines, excluding my sister's posts, and nobody else there says only a sibling is borderline. They say mother/sibling or several people. One borderline doesn't pop out of nowhere. It's about the parents and how sick THEY were. She is the only one who won't say what our mother was because she can't. If, for the sake of argument, I am a borderline, it is because of the mother. She also NEVER takes the blame for bad behavior. She called her cut offs for years as "attempts to ignore." She ran. She is a runner. Unless it's abusive boyfriend. Then she stays.


    Anyhow on boundaries, I am going to make boundaries that are good for me. If the other person wants to whine and stamp their feet and say I am muzzling them or "manipulating" them (I fail to see how this was manipultion), then so be it. We won't talk

    I am truly dedicated to serenity the rest of my life. Frankly, if one of my kids was in an abusive relationship and wanted to talk about it 70% of the time a nd didn't leave the person for four, five years, I would set another boundary: "Look, I love you very much and it hurts me to hear you talking about what he does to you. I agree th at it's wrong, but I can't stop him nor can you. If you are going to keep going back to him, then I am going to give you the phone number of a Domestic Abuse Shelter and you can discuss it with them. It's too hard for me to listen and nothing ever changes. I hope one day you will tell me that you have left him for good. Until then, that conversation must be addressed elsewhere, to people it will not hurt so much."

    I could deal with it even less if it were my child. Three years????

    I put in my time.

    Ok, thanks for the feedback. Fodder for thought.
  10. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I do not know how I missed this thread. I am sorry.
    Like others, I feel that a boundary is for you, and has to be defined by you. Nobody else gets a right to define it for you.

    Like TL said, they can respond in a way you do not like. This is what happened to you and your sister. She put a boundary. You responded. She did not like it.
    Me, too. M hates it. But he does it too.
    I agree with the first part, not the second. I think negotiation is possible, and actually the best thing for a relationship. M puts up boundaries all of the time. Like, I will not sleep with you and the cat.

    I can say back, I will not sleep with you without the cat. Except I don't. I prefer him to the cat. So, our relationship is strengthened. I know I will not leave M for the cat.
    M wanted us to give up Romy. While I could not actually say to him that this was a boundary. He knew I could not bear it. Romy will stay. I knew M accepted Romy, for me. That strengthens a relationship. Because you know that it cost somebody to keep engaged with you.

    Your sister, Serenity wanted all of the power. She wanted you to do all of the sacrificing and accepting of limits she imposed. She wanted to hurt you at will. And she wanted you to just stay in the ring and accept her punches. And not leave. She was willing to do nothing to change.
    You get to decide that. I get to, too. Everybody does. When there is real love and respect and the capacity to change there are both boundaries and there is flexibility. It goes back and forth. One person says I cannot tolerate this. The other person, says I will change. The roles go back and forth. Not one single person does all of the controlling or demanding. Not one person does all of the subordinating and changing. Whether you talk about the process or not, both people are flexible. Both people want the relationship. Both people are willing to invest sometimes in changing, in backing down, in taking responsibility to keep the relationship.

    I see what is happening with my son in this light. Now.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Oh, Copa and thanks so much for responding...your input means so much to me...for my husband or kids of course we would compromise or I'd accept the boundary. With my sister, it isn't possible. If I offered something like w hat I'd thought of doing, both s he and my brother would say "no>" I would have liked a "let's get it all out and talk about it calmly" conference. Maybe my sister first then brother so there was no gang They wouldn't do it. Brother actually may have. Sister would have walked out the first time I said anything about Mother that she thought of as negative. There is no negotiating in my family.

    I agree that negotiation and compromise is good and have done it over and over again with my family of choice and friends. But you can't compromise with somebody who thinks she is right and can not see your point of view. I wanted us to be able to talk about Mother, even if it was a bit uncomfortable for her, so I could finally find out why she said nothing to Mother to try to soften her up on me or why she never said, "Don't talk that way about my sister. I love her." At the time, she did love me. I have it in writing. I have e-mails from her going back to 2012. But she never did and I always wondered why. I needed one big conversation about it. She never would have lasted.

    As for the boyfriend, that could have worked out too as long as she promised not to talk about his abuse of her. I mean, she could mention his name, I guess, if we were compromising, but s he disconnected before we ever got t there.

    Since th e first condition never would have happened, there was nothing we could do to compromise. I'll tell ya one thing I do find interesting. When I say anything she immediately either says "no" or does a cut off. When Boyfriend did anything or said anything to do, she cried or got upset and told ME about it and maybe him too, but she never ever ever cut him off. They will probably marry when his kids grow up. He is anal about not introducing her to his kids after five years. Uses that as an excuse to use her and keep her at a distance. And she'll never leave him.

    My mother got involved with a mom, after divorcing my dad, who cheated on her and married some woman from an asian country who just wanted a green card and was very cruel to him.

    But she was nice to him too.

    It's definitely deep and a family thing. They put up with abuse all the time, but call what I do abuse (shrug). I can't change it. I will find a way to send you the original e-mails we sent to each other so you can tell me if I said something controlling or manipulating in there.

    Thanks for the input :)
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Yep. You are 100% right. She wanted a relationship a lot. I was sort of the mother who was dead and she could talk to me. And I listened. But I wouldn't do her bidding. I don't suppose my mother did either, however my mother was more impportant to my sister than I am so she put up with it. My mother was NOT easy to get along with and I'm sure she baited my sister.

    Ok, well, that all answers my question. A boundary, unless it is physical, is very subjective. I feel my boundary was very fair and that I had done my time listening to her talk about this abusive man while never leaving her. She felt I was silencing her. In the case of him, I was, for MY sake. And that was ok and her response was ok.

    Thanks!!!! :)
  13. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    This statement indicates you are telling the truth.

    Sister has no intrinsic right to be "bugged", Serenity. Think for a minute of loving families into which a Down Syndrome child is born.

    Now, think of a messed up family into which a Down Syndrome child is born.

    That is the difference. The child is a child. The loving family will love him, will made allowances for his differences. The messed up family will be ashamed of him; will try to make him be "normal" and blame him when he is not.

    You are very kind in your thinking about your sister I think, Serenity. You are generous regarding her shortcomings and very hard on yourself for your own perceived shortcomings. You understand why she would feel badly and so, behave badly toward you, but you excuse her bad behaviors without even seeing them as bad. It seems you believe she would be a different person if only you were more perfect.

    Happy Hour here, you two.

    I will finish tomorrow, Serenity.

  14. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Serenity and Cedar, why are you not checking PM. I wrote a new conversation.

    This is it, Serentity. No flexibility. Neither your Mom or Sis seems to be able to or willing to tolerate flexibility. Everything has to be your responsibility or your fault. What kind of a relationship is that??
  15. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think you are too hard on yourself, too, Serenity. You learned that in your family. Your sister wants you to continue in the scapegoat role. You do not want to. And you are not.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Copa, I did check my PMs and wrote back. I'm afraid maybe you're not getting my answers. Please see if you have e-mails from me. If not, as Cedar to forward and I'll work on figuring out how to send to two at Yes, I am techie challenged even on easy stuff.

    Also, and this is more serious, I posted some very heavy stuff to both Cedar and you and I'm afraid for you to read what I sent (very much so), yet I hope you do read it and tell me the truth. The fact that I'm s hivering like a baby inside should tell you how heavy these were for me. You don't have to answer my questions about them. I will NOT be angry if you don't want to.

    But you two give me the best feedback of anyone I know. My husband read them and just said, "Just ignore it."

    I actually did end up doing just that, but I cried for many days in a row. At the same time, I felt I did the right thing. Now I'm not so sure.

    I am going to live in fear that you will read what I sent and hate me or see me differently, but I had to do it.

    Have a wonderful night. I will check my e-mail later. I *am* getting your epmails. You *should* be getting mine.

    Dear Cedar, who is probably having H appy Hour with her D H, I am also shaking about how you will react, but whatever you say, both of you, I know it will be the best feedback anyone could ever give me.

    Both of you have peaceful, serene, wonderful nights. I'm red in the face thining of what you may read that I sent so long ago to somebody. I am so afraid I was wrong or mean or, as my mother always said, "baaaaaaaaaaaad."

    Hugs to both.

  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Serenity, I was right. You did set the limit with your sister. She left because she could not accept your right to set a limit. She could not tolerate it.
  18. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    Good. This is where we will work. But not tonight. D H is waiting.


  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

  20. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    If you were benefiting in some way through setting a limit on what you will or will not discuss, that would be manipulation. When one person insists on speaking her piece but refuses to hear the other, that is a dysfunctional thing. I believe you set appropriate boundaries. In a way, it seems that your sister was telling you she wants what she wants from you and will find a name that isn't very nice to call you if you don't behave as she expects. That the name she calls you is couched in scientific terms doesn't change the fact that she called you a name. Just think how harmful it was to me to hear that word "manipulator" from that first therapist. If we are trying to be responsible to the integrity of a relationship, being told we are manipulative sends us into questioning ourselves. We tumble into shame base. We believe there must be a reason for the accusation or the person would not have said what they said.

    I am sorry your sister did this to you, Serenity.

    We should not call one another names in accusatory ways.

    That is hurtful.

    What I see here is that the sister accuses you of things she knows you will feel badly about to browbeat you into submission, and she uses your sense of integrity regarding your own behaviors to do it.

    Do you believe you established the boundary around the sister's abusive relationship to punish the sister Serenity, or to protect the relationship to the sister? In your description of your reasons for setting the boundary, I hear that you decided to erect the boundary to protect the relationship to your sister.

    No contact...for me, in my Family of Origin, no contact is done to punish. It is an intentional act. Allies are recruited to be certain the ostracized member (me) understands they have been targeted and evicted and are now fair game for all kinds of nastiness from their own family. Whoever the ringleader is, the message sent is that our own family doesn't love us enough to put up with us.

    No contact is a form of shunning.

    Shunning a family member leaves them vulnerable and broken and sad.

    No contact is a deadly sharp weapon; deadly.

    No. I believe you were making an honest effort to establish respect in relationship.

    It isn't like your sister said one wrong word and you went no contact, recruited allies, and tried to turn the family against her.

    You did not do that, Serenity.

    Your sister did do that.

    I feel badly for you that sister does these kinds of hurtful things. To me, the sister is running hard with an agenda she intends to see through, however you respond. To me, it seems that sister becomes enraged and doubles her attacks as you become healthier.

    We do not control our sisters. We can behave in the best ways we know to do, and let go of outcome.

    Does your sister ever treat you pleasantly when it has nothing to do with bashing a third party? I mean did a conversation with sister ever have a feeling of relaxation and pleasure, and a sense of time well spent?

    A time when the whole conversation was not about her?

    For us to heal, I think we need to pin this stuff down. I wished so much for my sister that I excused really bad things that she did without batting an eye. I kept believing she meant well...but she didn't. We are both in our sixties, now. She has as much responsibility to our relationship as I do. My sister abuses, too. I couldn't see it either, because I thought she loved me.

    It seems she does not.

    So, like you do too Serenity, I need to pin down what the true nature of my relationship to my sister was. Otherwise, I will be so sad that she is gone from my life that I will step right back into condoning my sister's "Well I know it's wrong but I can't help it."

    She knows.

    So does your sister, Serenity.

    As I heal here Serenity, I realize that my sister used "I love you" to manipulate me. If she loved me, then she could not be doing what looked and felt abusive on purpose.

    Abuse is what needs to be stopped. The sisters can choose to interact or not, once we decide not to allow them to abuse us.

    They invariably choose no contact, the last hurtful thing they can do. They could as easily have chosen to talk honestly with us about what they've done.

    But they didn't.

    For us, the rules seem to be: Protect me, support me, shut up.

    My sister said that, as she walks with the Lord, He will have to fix our relationship because, since the Lord seems not to have fixed me yet (even after she prayed that ring of fire around me), she is done.

    Then she called whenever she felt like it.


    The difference now is that I love her too much to love her, this way.

    Loving someone does not mean they get to hate you in private and subvert you in public. There is no trust without respect; there is no love without trust. I trust my sister to do the crummiest things and pay for it with: "But I love you."

    Our families are dysfunctional. Remember that article you posted about rigid role requirements in dysfunctional families, Serenity? That is what seems to be happening with our sisters. So, if they love the rigid roles from our scary childhoods more than they want us in their lives...we don't have control over that.

    We have to let go.

    We cannot enable. We cannot betray ourselves anymore for the sake of relationships that are abusive, or we will not be able to heal.

    What would happen if you called your sister, Serenity?

    That is the topic, Serenity.

    Your sister was very wrong to do that to you. You weren't robbing her house, you were trying to get her to talk about your relationship. The way I see it, you behaved responsibly. Your sister behaved the way she always does, trying to shame you and hurt you and make you feel badly about yourself.

    I could cry for your sake, when I think about what your sister has done to you.

    Even the way she did what she did, here on the site recently, was so nasty and hurtful and threatening and wrong. If your sister were to approach you privately, say through Facebook, in a loving, supportive way, if she were to apologize and to tell you she misses you and couldn't you please try, slowly at first, to come back into one another's lives, you would give her that chance Serenity. I know that you would.

    But you have to see what your sister chooses, instead.

    You have to see that, Serenity.

    She is still doing everything in her power to shame you publicly. Daphne posted something about reporting the posts. What is that, if not abuse, if not a threat?

    It's like that Maya Angelou saying: "Believe them the first time they tell you who they are."

    I think we can grieve that our sisters are not the sisters we wish we had. But when we excuse and excuse their bad behaviors, they cannot grow into better people, and neither can we.

    I'm sorry Serenity, that we don't have the sisters we are so ready and able to love. But we don't have that in our lives.

    We just don't.


    When we know that the person is locked into power-over mentality, we need to be wise, and we need to be wary. People who love us don't behave as our sisters behave.

    This is true.