I was replying to a comment on my last blog post earlier and it got me thinking about how I was feeling when I made the decision to cut my sister out of my life over 2 years ago, and when I revisited my decision earlier this year. When I originally made the decision to cut my sister out of my life I was at a crisis point. It was a situation of either my sister had to go, or my sanity would go. I chose to keep my sanity, but it was an extremely difficult decision to make. I felt like I had failed even though I knew that I had already done all that I could do in order to try to keep my relationship with my sister. But since I was the only one willing to try, the only one willing to compromise I ended up compromising my sense of self. When I realized that I had to be a different person around my sister than who I truly am in order to even attempt to avoid confrontation, I knew that our relationship could not continue. Especially since I was acting less and less like myself even when I wasn’t even around my sister. I was more nervous, had a harder time making decisions, and always in the back of my mind was the thought “will this get me in trouble with my sister?” Nobody should have to live like that.
I knew that I was happier when I didn’t have to have contact with my sister. I had had minimal contact with her for years before, and had decided to try to “have a more normal sister relationship” with her… which turned into me having to drop whatever it was that I was doing in order to answer her call no matter what time it was, or immediately respond to her text messages or emails. And always living in a constant state of dread of when those calls, texts or emails might come next… and if this next phone call would be the one where my mask slipped and I inadvertently fell out of character long enough to provoke my sister’s rage. I did not like being in contact with my sister, and I felt extremely guilty for it. My determination to suck it up and force myself to have more contact with my sister in order to be a “good sister” wasn’t working out. I couldn’t figure out how it was that other sisters could happily talk to each other everyday… until I realized that not everyone had a sister like mine. Other people could have a good relationship with their siblings because those relationships weren’t one sided. My relationship with my sister was always about my sister and keeping her happy, and it simply wasn’t sustainable. One day I simply had enough of her bullshit and wrote that email cutting her out of my life… which she ignored, so I had to repeat myself a couple more times before I decided with the help of my husband that if I simply stopped responding to her emails she might get the message.
I didn’t simply make the decision to cut my sister out of my life and never revisit it though. I would have conversations with my mom where my mom would tell me how her relationship with my sister was doing much better and I would have to tell my mother that I just didn’t think that I was ready to allow her back in my life yet, and that it was possible that I might never be ready. I was feeling guilty for still not wanting to have my sister in my life. I felt like if my sister really was “doing much better” and had “really changed” then I had to give her another chance. That if I didn’t, I would then be the the bad guy. I would have conversations with my husband about whether or not I was doing the right thing. I didn’t want to have my sister in my life, I was happy not having contact with her, but I was afraid that I was doing the wrong thing simply because cutting our sisters out of our lives is something “we just don’t do”. I once said to my husband “Who cuts their sister out of their life???” and he responded “Who treats their sister the way your sister treats you?” It took me a while to realize that even if my sister did “really change” I still had the right to continue to not have contact with her. The trust had already been damaged beyond repair. And in the end it isn’t about her anyway. The choice of whether or not to allow my sister in my life is about me. I need to do what is best for me. My sister could really change for the better, and when it comes to her having a relationship with me it could be too little, too late. If I don’t feel right about having contact with her, if I still dread the thought of talking with her, then I am not ready.
I cut off contact with my sister because it was what was right for me. If I choose to resume contact with my sister it should be because it is what’s right for me.
But even though I realized that I was doing what was right for me, it still felt like I was getting life “wrong”. It’s a very hard feeling to try to describe… It’s kind of like when I made the decision to cut my sister out of my life I had done something that just isn’t done. Like I had broken some unwritten rule that everyone just follows. Like there’s a way that we all go about living our lives and I had done something that took my life outside of that and made me different from everyone else. Sharing my story on here and hearing from others who have had to make similar hard decisions has helped me to feel less like I am going to be told at any moment that I have to get my life back on script with everyone else. I have the right to do what is best for me, and there is no wrong way to live my life. And since there is no wrong way to live my life, I am now free to discover who I really am… and that is a very exciting thing.
Links to more posts about my relationship with my sister can be found on my “My Toxic Sister” page on this blog.