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.