When I finished writing my super long post about my relationship with my sister last night/early this morning, I thought that I had said everything that I really wanted to say about it. But then as I was laying in bed trying to get to sleep, I thought of a bunch more things that I wish I had said. I had wanted to get it all out in one post, but as I was writing it and was realizing how long it was going to be, I realized that I couldn’t say everything that I wanted to. I decided that I would say as much as I could and then move onto other things, but my mind won’t let me write about anything else until I say a few more things about my sister. I’ll try to keep this post shorter than the last one.
I have had many issues with mental illnesses through out the years. I in fact ended up being arrested and then hospitalized by the police at one point. I will go into these experiences in more detail at some point in this blog, but suffice it to say that my issues brought my family to a crisis point a few times over the years. My parents had to try to balance looking over their 2 younger children, while at the same time dealing with the mess that my life had become. They at times had to devote more time and energy into helping me, than they were able to give to my siblings. My brother was loving, understanding, and tried to help me in his own special ways. My sister however was angry with me for embarrassing her because we lived in a small town, and my being arrested ended up on the local news. I was a minor at the time, and yet the news released my name and my picture. Even though I did nothing wrong and never should have been arrested in the first place, my sister’s reaction was to believe everything bad that she heard about me. And then make up false stories about what sort of things had happened in my life. She made me feel guilty even though I had done nothing wrong. She looked down on me.
What she took away from my struggles with mental illness was that if you have one, you get more attention. So she very soon decided that she too had mental illnesses. What ever my doctors diagnosed me with in their struggle to figure out what was going on in my head, my sister also decided that she had. Now, I’m not saying that it’s not possible that she could have the same issues that I do, but I say that I highly doubt it based on her actions. You see, my sister would decide that she had a certain mental illness, go to a doctor and say and act how she needed to in order to have that diagnoses confirmed, and then decide that she no longer had that illness once it no longer suited her needs. She would go to a therapist, tell them all sorts of lies about her life, and then come out and say that her therapist agrees with her that mom’s a bad mother. Or that dad was abusive when she was younger, but that she must have blocked it out. (My father was never abusive toward any of us.) She would say what she had to say to hear what she wanted to hear, and then she would talk my mother into coming to one of her sessions in the hopes that the therapist would yell at her. Once the therapist stopped telling her what she wanted to hear, and started to try to actually help her, she would drop them and move on to the next.
My sister would use her “mental illnesses” and hide behind them. She would claim that she couldn’t be held responsible for any of her actions, and that everyone had to treat her differently. Then she would proceed to yell at me about all things in my life that she thought that I should change in order to make her life better. Her “mental illnesses” (which were always the same as my real mental illnesses) meant that she was blameless, but there was no excuse for my behavior.
She would also proudly announce to people that she was “mentally ill”. She would tell people over and over again about it, where as most people who deal with these sort of mental illnesses would rather not talk about it for fear of being misunderstood or shunned. This behavior, coupled with the constantly changing diagnoses depending on how she was feeling that day helped me to come to realize that she was doing this on purpose, that she was faking it for the attention. That and the fact that any time that someone else was talking about dealing with depression in on form or another, my sister would jump in and talk about how she knows exactly what they are talking about, and how she had it much worse.
My sister once called CPS to try to have my dad arrested, or try to have herself taken out of the home so she could live somewhere else and not have to deal with my parents anymore, or something like that. She and dad had gotten into yet another fight that she had instigated. My dad told me that my sister had come at him to try and claw his eyes out, and he pushed her away. She happened to bump into the counter. When my sister told it, she was completely innocent and my dad was bending her backwards over the counter while screaming in her face. How do I know that my dad’s account is closer to the truth? Because I have been in similar situations with my sister. In her eyes, nothing is ever her fault and she never does any wrong. The whole world is conspiring against her. Though she never actually came out and said it, she also hinted that maybe dad had sexually abused her as well. Like I said, I know that my father never abused any of us. I know that my sister was never abused in the ways that she claimed (or hinted at possibly starting to claim) because I was there in that small house. She was never alone with my father, he was too busy working all the time in order to feed, clothe, and keep a roof over her ungrateful head. CPS agreed with me too, and told her that she was not in a home situation that warranted their attention. I know people who actually grew up in abusive households, and ours was not one of them. But she liked to claim it whenever she could to try to get attention, and she was pissed with CPS for not believing that her not being able to have her way all the time was abuse. I will say that the incident when she called CPS did happen after I had gotten married and moved out of the house, but she was claiming that this had been going on for years. She did not have a traumatic childhood.
She was also upset that no one was going to be able to drive her to one of her appointments one time because my grandmother (my mom’s mom) had the nerve to fall and break a hip. She seriously thought that my mom should take care of all her needs first, before going to be with my grandmother.
There is also the experience I had when I told my sister, years after it happened, that I had been raped at 14. Her reaction was to say “Oh, yeah, I’ve been raped so many times.” in a completely nonchalant voice, and then to continue to talk about herself some more. Then years after this, when she had me on the phone for over 6 hours one time, I brought up my rape and she acted like she had never heard anything about this before. She also claimed that my mother had told her things that I had supposedly done to get in trouble at school, and when I got off the phone with her I was questioning my own memory. I was wondering if I had done these things, but could not remember doing them for some reason. I was wondering if I was crazier than I thought. My mother was able to confirm that she had in fact never said any of these things to her, and that she had no idea where they came from.
Not only was she abusive toward my mother while she was dealing with her depressive episode, but she tried to get other people to join her. She was mad at me for not thinking that yelling at my mother was the right thing to do. She was trying to get my brother to tell my mother how angry her being depressed made him. He had been trying to help her and be there for her in whatever way he could, until my sister showed up in a taxi and brought him to her apartment. She bullied my brother into calling my mother and telling her that he was upset with her “for not being there for him.” My mother didn’t know how to react, and probably had a hard time understanding exactly what my brother was saying to her. It takes concentration to understand him when you are in the same room with him, and even more when talking to him on the phone, and my mom was having a hard time concentrating on anything at that point. My poor brother didn’t know what to do, because he didn’t want to hurt my mom, but he didn’t want my sister to continue to yell at him. My sister kept my brother for at least a week, maybe more before my husband and I were able to fly out there, and when I got there he was a nervous wreck. She kept talking him into staying, and she didn’t want for him to go home again until she decided it was “safe” for him to do so. I felt so horrible and tried to stick up for him and help him out as much as I could, but I was fighting my own battle with trying not to upset her at the same time. I held it in, and held it in, and eventually exploded at one point while we were all in the car. My husband was driving, and she was sitting in the front seat because it was “her’ car. My brother and I were in the back. I snapped at her, and things got ugly, and then we stopped talking for a little bit and rode in silence. Then I started crying, I didn’t want to but I couldn’t stop. My sister asked me if I wanted to tell her what I was so upset about, and I told her that it didn’t matter what we did, we couldn’t do anything right. We gave up all of our vacation time to try and help her, and she just didn’t appreciate a damn thing that we had done for her. She gave a backhanded apology that blamed everything and everyone else for her behavior and we left it at that. A little while later, my brother looked around to make sure that my sister wasn’t watching and gave me a hug. That hug said that he knew that I was trying to protect him and help him, and that he knew how scary that was for me to go against my sister, and that he appreciated it. Best hug ever.
My sister was also trying to push me to help her have my mom committed. She thought that that should have been the first thing that should have been done, to go in and get evaluated and let the doctors dope my mom up on whatever they wanted to. This is coming from a woman who has never once set foot in a psychiatric hospital. I have, my mother has in the past, and we both know that the hospital is the absolute last resort, not the first thing that you should do. It soon became clear that my sister had been fantasizing about going to visit my mom in the hospital. She actually said to me that she knew that one of my friends would be willing to drive us all to the hospital to see “our broken mother” if we were all too upset to do it. First of all neither she or I drive, second of all, my husband would have been able to drive us just fine. She wanted my mom in the hospital because of all the pity and sympathy she thought that she would get out of it.
It was abundantly clear that despite my sister’s claims of knowing exactly what my mom was going through, she had no clue. She thought that surprising my mother with a visit from me and my husband would cure my mom, and that my sister would forever be the hero. She thought that yelling, and threatening, and using my brother to make my mom feel more guilty would cause my mom to “snap out of it.” She had no clue what my mom was going through.
Even with all of this, plus what I wrote about in my previous post, I still thought that maybe my strained relationship might be my fault some how. I had started to try to avoid having contact with my sister years before, but would never fully admit what I was doing, even to myself. I felt like I was a bad sister for being panicked at the thought of having to try to have a conversation with my sister. I knew that no matter what I said or did I was probably going to get yelled at, there was no way to know what would set her off. I remember saying to my husband one time “I think my sister might be sociopath. I watch shows with people who are sociopaths who have ended up killing people, and when they describe them it makes me think of my sister.” Then I immediately felt like the worst sister that ever was, and started to try to rationalize how I must be over reacting again, just like I do after every interaction with my sister. I’d tell myself how I had to allow her to be a part of my life, because she was my sister, even though she scared me and tore my life apart every single time we interacted.
And then I finally came to realize that I didn’t have to let anyone be a part of my life that did nothing but hurt me and use me. That I should never come away from interaction with someone questioning my memory, or my sanity. It didn’t make a bit of difference that she was my sister, because family can be toxic too.
I made the decision to do what was best for me. My family has been supportive, but they still interact with her. My mother keeps telling me how things are so much better, and I start thinking that I need to give my sister one last chance (again) because if she has changed then I am now the bad guy.
But then I realize that if my sister had changed she wouldn’t angrily be demanding of my mother why I wasn’t contacting her yet. “Doesn’t she know I’m better now?” If my sister was better she would be contacting me via email, or a letter apologizing for all the hell that she’s put me through, and she would leave it up to me when, or if, I wanted to have contact with her again. She would acknowledge that she had done wrong, and not continue to put this all on me. I still feel uncomfortable at the thought of her having even a small place in my life again. I am still afraid of her. I still don’t trust myself to stand up for myself if she has not in fact changed. So I am honoring my feelings, as I should have done many years ago.
Listen to your feelings. If you dread having contact with someone. If every time you interact with someone you it leaves you upset. If you are afraid of someone. Honor those feelings. If you can not have a healthy relationship with someone, you should not have any relationship with them at all. It is okay to do what you need to do in order to live a happy and healthy life. You choose who is allowed in your life, don’t choose toxic people.
Links to more posts about my relationship with my sister can be found on my “My Toxic Sister” page on this blog.