Painful encounter with my sister. What a surprise! (*Sarcasm, here)

Discussion in 'Family of Origin' started by Copabanana, Nov 11, 2016.

  1. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I got gut-punched today. (I had written this as part of a PE thread, and have moved it here where it belongs.)

    It was my sister's birthday (we are both over 60.) I had sent her an email on her birthday as I did last year as well. We have been estranged for many, many years, and this worsened after my mother died. Those of you here for a while know that my mother's death proved catastrophic for me and while recovering some, I am not yet fully functional and do not anticipate ever being the same.

    Well, my sister wrote back (to paraphrase): after the way you treated me before mom died, I would prefer that you do not contact me again.

    The most stunning and obvious aspect of my sister's response is its cruelty and desire to hurt. One could ask why I am so affected. When there were so many past incidents of this towards anybody who thwarted my sister or those whom she saw as a threat.

    I guess I have defended myself from her almost my entire life and only since my mother's death (when I have been more vulnerable than ever before), have I wanted to cling in an idealistic way to the only blood family I have. While there are thousands of reasons I could have rethought reaching out to her (I asked for nothing, not contact, not forgiveness for anything, not love--my salutation was something like: I hope you had a good year and that you and your family are well (she has had cancer; she also has daughters to whom my mother was quite attached.) And I closed, Happy Birthday. That she should have chosen to be hurtful and vindictive seems to redeem my lifelong fear of her.

    Instead of the recognition that I have lost nothing--only a dream or a fantasy--and a kind of gratitude that she has once again revealed herself as she truly is, I feel hurt, vulnerable and ashamed---that I allowed her to feel superior, strategically powerful, in control, in charge and advantaged, so that she could hurt me. One could ask, correctly, if there is not a large dose of hypocrisy in what I did. To write to somebody for whom I have neither respect or trust, and to wish them well. She who has chosen most of her life to define herself as an only daughter and metaphorically kill me off. She who pressured my mother to disinherit me. What was I looking for, really, from her? Did she really not tell the truth and call it as it was?

    There are actions in life that define us. I chose to protect and care for my mother. With that I took on my sister. I stand by what I did. Out of that with my mother gone, I tried to love my sister. She refused. Her choice. All of the rest is noise. It hurts, though.

    My sister can be quite predatory. I knew that going in. I never had a real relationship with her beyond the time she was an infant and toddler. She is a victim of circumstances beyond her control in her life as a child, as all of us can be, for which I am not responsible. As best I could I protected my mother when she became vulnerable, and by extension I protected myself. That was my crime. Long time coming, that is all I can say. If my sister cannot tolerate hearing from a sister once a year, a sister who will not allow herself to be victimized by her, so be it.

    I went high. She responded as she sees it, and perhaps, from who she is, or as she sees it, who I am. So be it.
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2016
  2. mof

    mof Momdidntsignupforthis

    It is what it is...and pain is involved. This does not define you...but you ended perhaps the estranged relationship with peace. She stated her did not engage.

    You have no guilt for your life choices...she will one day realize what she lost. Maybe even after death.

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  3. AppleCori

    AppleCori Well-Known Member


    You shouldn't be ashamed for reaching out, for being the bigger person, for wishing someone well.

    I'm sorry she chose to be cruel, but that small-mindedness doesn't negate the fact that you did the right thing.

    You should be proud that you tried to let go of the past and mend your relationship. A good deed is still a good deed, despite the reaction of the receiver.

    Let it go, now.

    But don't be ashamed or belittled by the fact that you tried.

    To put yourself out and risk potential rejection is a hard thing to do.
    It takes a strong person to do this, not a weak, petty, angry, small person. The kind of person that will lash out and belittle someone for no reason is not the kind of person that you want to be. It is not the kind of person that you are.

    Think about it--would you like to be the person who enjoys being mean, holding grudges, or making others feel bad? What a sad existence that would be.

    She s a miserable person and wants everyone else to be miserable with her. Don't fall for it. Feel sorry for her, but don't give her the power to make you feel bad about yourself. That is the only way that she wins.

    I bet, while she enjoys the feeling of lashing out at you with her words, a part of her is angry at you for being a bigger person that can reach out in love and forgiveness and understanding, extending an olive branch. It will eat away at her that you are in such a good place in your life, that you are not spending your life seething in anger and resentment, but have a heart big enough to include her. She hates that.

    So, did she really win? No, and she knows it. And she hates that. And the cycle continues.

    You tried, that's all you can do.

    Let it go, but be glad that you at least tried.
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  4. Scent of Cedar *

    Scent of Cedar * Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry you were hurt, Copa. In deciding to send your sister a Birthday message, you were being honest and real and true to yourself. This matters more than anything else ~ that you were true to yourself. Why pretend you were not thinking of her on the day of her birth when you were? Is it supposed to be a guilty secret that you care for her and remember her on her birthday? Are you supposed to keep that to yourself? Why? The sister doesn't get to determine what you think or how you feel or whether you send her an email on her birthday. You get to do, and think, and feel, whatever you want. This is a person in your life. A sister, and your blood. You are not required to accept her interpretation of the meaning or value of your relationship. Also, you knew you were opening yourself to a vulnerability when you sent the Birthday greeting, if your sister chose to use your communication in this way. You knew all those things, Copa...but you chose to wish her well. In this, you met your own highest intent. And that is what matters. That you do the right thing as you believe it to be. Next year, if you still feel the same, you may wish to send another Birthday greeting. The sister may respond as she wishes of course, but what she does not get to do is say what you are entitled to think or feel or do.

    I'm sorry for the hurt in it, Copa.

  5. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Thank you Cedar.

    It is hard to stay in touch with the brave and the hope of reaching out, when nearly my whole life I defined by the need to protect her, by subordination of my interest, in favor of her own. I exaggerated her danger to me, in order to give her power and reduce my own.

    M for years has been trying to get me to see how reaching to be brave, to care for my mother, no matter what the consequences has been a defining act. It has been hard to see it, and harder to feel it, and act from it.

    This bravery and defiance on my part--standing up, in relation to the two of them, my sister and mother, I am beginning to see as the essential crime for which I am doing penance. Along with the strongest thing I have ever done.

    That is why it is so knee-jerk for me, to concentrate on my sister's cruel, reflexive opportunism (which indeed is nothing new) to hurt. Because on some level I do believe I deserve the punishment--for being who I am, what ever that is.

    If there is a reason that I will reach out again, it is to try again to affirm what you say.
    And because I believe that to reveal kindness and hope--rather than fear, serves that truth to self. By saying over and over again--how mean my sister is--does not serve that truth to self (but it sure gives some relief.)

    As I write this I wonder if we are not just two sides of the same coin. My sister and I.
    This is true. For so long I have.
    I hope this is so. I have questioned myself. When somebody is the same way, predictably and stereotypically, how can one expect something different?

    So, I ask myself, did I reach out in order that she would swat me down, at minimum, and define me as the bad person she would want me to feel myself to be. Because this is a zero sum game, this hot potato she wants me to catch. She must throw the blame onto me, for her own conduct. And this is what I opened myself up to: to receive the blame. For everything. That was my role. Is it still? Did I knowingly volunteer, once again, to take it on? Or did I open up to hope?
    So maybe there is room for both: punishment, and hope for something different, which indeed is always part of the compulsion to repeat...that this time it will turn out good. That they will love me because I am good. That I will not be alone. That it is not my fault.

    But then there is the element of strength, and the ability to decide consciously, of course, for which I am not giving myself any credit. Thank you, Cedar.
    Yes. I could do this. And if and when I do it, I can choose exactly why. I can decide to go high. To wish well a sister. Period. End of story. She can again decide. And what she decides will have not a thing in the world to do with me, unless I permit this, and consent her defining me. And that is exactly, I think, what you meant to tell me. I understand now.

    This is an important thing I did. Good. I am glad. For the past couple of days I have been sad, and I have regressed. For a short time, I accepted her definition and I reacted to her intent. That was unnecessary. I now see it.

    That was an old and very ugly conditioned response that I no longer have to indulge. Thank you again, Cedar.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2016