Sister

Old 08-05-2013, 11:11 PM
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Sister

I have a bad relationship with my sister.
As long as I can remember, I didn't like her, and I still don't really care for her.

I saw her recently, and seeing through newly sober eyes,(she lives far away, I see her yearly, maybe)

It occurs to me that many of the dysfunctional ways we relate to each other is due to growing up in a dysfunctional home with our folks setting us up to not get along.

Has anyone else dealt with this?
Because its my sister, it's the one relationship I feel guilty about walking away from. I have a sense of obligation, since we only have each other. I was raised that I should care about her, but honestly I can't stand her personality, and not to take anyone else's inventory, but she's working on a pretty good habit of her own.

She's actively drinking, daily, a lot.
She's constantly offended, angry, argumentative.
She has real issues with her daughter, who she demands everyone treat like a princess, she is in fact spoiled rotten and a problem, now college age.

I basically grin and bear it when she's around. Fortunately I only see her once, twice a year, but even that is really unpleasant.

I'd love to hear thoughts, and what others have done with this.
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Old 08-05-2013, 11:45 PM
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You present, to me anyways, as one who loves his sister, even though you have personal challenges against that same love. My three siblings continued to drink for many years after I quit. My own sister just the last three or four years really quit drinking as a sustained choice within her life. My two brothers yet continue with their moderated drinking.

Is love enough? I dunno. I suppose we all have our own experiences. When I turn my heart away from those I love, everybody hurts, including me.

What do I know of you and your sister?

When you look into the man in the mirror, do you see yourself reaching out to your sister in her pain, or do you see yourself hoping for rain?

Me, I hoped for rain. Tough choices. It made the difference for me, and so I reversed myself and reached out and surprise she reached back, in her own ways and means. It's not perfect, our relationship, but it works enough for me to realise whatever love is, its more when its shared.

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Old 08-05-2013, 11:54 PM
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I don't know, I really feel like I don't care one way or the other.
I don't want to change her, and I don't want to do anything with her. When I do, I have a miserable experience.

I just feel like a sense of obligation. Guilt. Which I'm not really partial to, generally.

It sort of eats at me. Not sure what to think.
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:10 AM
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Yeah, I hear you.

The thing about these kind of responsibilities is no one but yourself can maker more sense with it then you already have considered. That is both a blessing and a curse as long as you're undecided, is my opinion. Doing nothing still means a choice is being made nonetheless. I'm sure you're the kind of man that totally understands there are no free tickets in anybody's journey through life.

Perhaps, as your own life continues to find favor in your own eyes, you'll see what fortunes might be discovered in happier times while having a different look at your relationship with your sister.
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Old 08-06-2013, 12:10 AM
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Guilt is a learned feeling, and we ACoA are great at it. My sister and I have nothing in common. Nothing. Even down to our relationships with our AM. I am No Contact and working recovery in Al-Anon and therapy. She goes on vacation with AM and posts pictures on FB of them at the pool with their drinks. You aren't obligated to make nice with your sister. You aren't obligated to acknowledge her. It gets easier as you go along, and Al-Anon helps a lot with that. Being family doesn't automatically mean you're obligated to go along with the dysfunction.
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Old 08-06-2013, 01:02 AM
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Originally Posted by DoubleBarrel View Post
It occurs to me that many of the dysfunctional ways we relate to each other is due to growing up in a dysfunctional home with our folks setting us up to not get along.

Has anyone else dealt with this?
Boy that sums it up in a nutshell. Our parents did set it up so we had no backup or troops to conquer with. I have next to nothing to do with my siblings, I guess we all prefer it that way. We don't actively hate each other and do gather for an occasional funeral or wedding and are civil. But we just are not really like siblings at all, not in the least. I've waited a lifetime for it to change but it hasn't.
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Old 08-06-2013, 05:42 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

Many of the comments really hit close to home.

I have really worked at getting rid of the guilt thing for a long time, but this is like the last vestige of it I guess.

What would be really nice would be to be able to have an honest rational conversation with her with the hope of trying to improve our relationship.

Sadly, unless she does quite a bit, including her own recovery, Its not gonna happen.

And yes, I have tried, only to run up against a landslide of codependent enabling crap about my parents and alcoholic rationalization for why things are ok the way they are.
I am blamed for rocking the boat, and being intolerant.
Well, part of my being a healthy person is not tolerating unhealthy behavior, and I make no excuse for it or apologize for my intolerance of it. I refuse to be complicit in their collective denial and lies.


So I guess what can I do? Not too much. Thanks for listening.
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Old 08-06-2013, 07:27 PM
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One of my siblings is completely sober, pillar of the community and normal in every respect, as am I -I like to think. We have never had a rational conversation about our life as kids. There is a lot of crap in her head, and nothing is going to clear it, even after a lifetime of both of us being "normal". The evil imprinting from our alcoholic dad is just too strong. Amazing.
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Old 08-09-2013, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by DoubleBarrel View Post
It occurs to me that many of the dysfunctional ways we relate to each other is due to growing up in a dysfunctional home with our folks setting us up to not get along.
I have long felt that my parents did this to us as siblings.

My feeling is there's nothing I can do about it. Given our upbringing, with me as the problem child (scapegoat), anything I say will fall on deaf ears and be heard by siblings as me 'being stubborn' and blaming other people and refusing to look at all the ways I've caused trouble in the family. (Please hear the tongue in cheek--I've lived a ridiculously straight as an arrow life and spent decades refusing to get down in the mud and fight, rather simply walking away from it.)

I personally have no problem walking away from siblings. They're adults. They can make friends. They have the rest of the family. And if a relationship with me is important, all they need to do is treat me with the same respect they'd treat their friends. I guess this is why I have no problem walking away--they'd never dream of doing and saying to others what they do to me, and they know others would walk away from them, too.
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Old 08-09-2013, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by NWGRITS View Post
Even down to our relationships with our AM. I am No Contact and working recovery in Al-Anon and therapy. She goes on vacation with AM and posts pictures on FB of them at the pool with their drinks.
This hit home. My mother was a teetotaler, the whole time I was growing up, through my adulthood. When I spent time with her, she talked...make that monologue, just to be clear...endlessly, most of it involving being angry, critical, bitter, and hateful about other people. Mouth pursed. Eyes narrowed. Changing the subject, trying to interject anything positive...nothing worked. She wanted me to sit there and listen to her trash talk the rest of the awful world. That was our relationship. (Sound like fun?)

I couldn't believe it the first time I went to a family gathering after moving home, seeing her with my younger sister, laughing, chatting, cracking jokes, HAPPY, swinging a bottle of something, drinking it out of the bottle and making jokes about it!

With me, I got helpful hints about how raising a houseful of boys would be so much easier if I would just do this, this, and this...(not that she ever raised a houseful of children remotely like what I have, and not that she ever raised any boys at all.) With me, it was helpful hints about being a better mother and housekeeper.

My sister...leaving a house warming party announcing to everyone that she's leaving her kids with her husband so she can go get trashed at a party. And everyone, my mother included, is laughing it up and cheering her on for leaving her two little kids to go get plastered!

Obviously my mother has an identical twin she keeps hidden in the closet, because these can't possibly be the same people. And not surprisingly, my sister can't imagine why I have an issue with the fun-loving happy mother who approves of everything SHE (my sister) does!

It is pure insanity. Sometimes, I just stand back watching in amazement. I'd find it hard to believe if someone else told me this story, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.
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Old 08-09-2013, 06:51 PM
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Oh, EveningRose. I've always found many similarities in our family dynamics, and this is just another one. I don't have any advice, just lots of empathetic hugs for you.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:22 PM
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Evening Rose...we have a lot in common. I can't always pinpoint the exact details...as my AM (who probably started out as a teetotaller and still believed it about herself many years after she was drinking the wine in the plastic Sprite bottle...and probably does now) always talked to me about anybody and everybody I loved...and she always told me the ugly side of them...their family dirty laundry...etc. I ended up doing genealogy as a way to 'flush' the gossip and negative out of my system...and have done it for many years. My sister went from telling me she 'loved me more than breath itself' (I coined that...and did love her at that time like that) to telling me that I am selfish and narcissistic and I realized that she is projecting. Sis and mom spent 45 years of my life speaking poorly of each other to me. My only regret is that I listened and even that...is not so much a regret...because I realize that that was my role in the family...dumpster for their negative garbage. The last thing my AM said before I went NC in february was that she was so disappointed in me...I had hit bottom financially and self esteem wise...today I have another well paying job, am moving forward as I do after hitting bottom, and I realize that I simply never had any power over either of them or their negative attitudes. Somedays I try to figure out how to 'be friends again', but that is not possible...because with both (with me not understanding) it was always when THEY needed ME...and I was so happy with just that little bit...that I GAVE myself out. There is a verse in the bible...the 'truth' will set you free...the truth is painful when heard or seen...but it does set one free or give one the opportunity to make better choices going forward.

God bless.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by irisgardens View Post
...always talked to me about anybody and everybody I loved...and she always told me the ugly side of them...their family dirty laundry...etc. ....

My only regret is that I listened and even that...is not so much a regret...because I realize that that was my role in the family...dumpster for their negative garbage.

Somedays I try to figure out how to 'be friends again', but that is not possible...because with both (with me not understanding) it was always when THEY needed ME...and I was so happy with just that little bit...that I GAVE myself out. There is a verse in the bible...the 'truth' will set you free...the truth is painful when heard or seen...but it does set one free or give one the opportunity to make better choices going forward.

God bless.
How very true on all of this. "Dumpster for their negative garbage." Oh, yes, how I can relate to THAT! What a great phrase to describe it.

After I moved back home, I'd come home from work and find my nephews in my home, and all the kids excited that they were there for the whole weekend. I loved having them...but there was no asking, no notification, no phone number to contact my sister at, no word of where she was or when she'd be back. She'd come down to our city to visit friends, go hang out in their hot tubs, whatever, with her husband, and it simply never occurred to her to introduce me, being new to the area, or welcome me to join her as an equal.

We're a whopping 18 months apart and she's made it clear our whole lives I'm the 'little' sister and not welcome with the big kids. Do you know how ridiculous it is to move home in your mid 30s and realize that 18 months still MATTERS to her, and she's STILL going to let you know you're not welcome with her friends?

When she flew into a rage and explained it was really my fault because I (hold on, wait for it) took a nap in her house and left her and the 6 other adults to watch my kids (also in her house) I started to really see that painful truth quite clearly that we had a GREAT relationship as long as I took care of her kids and listened to her complain about our upbringing.

Yes, it has set me free. There are those with great relationships with their siblings who think people like us are going to regret it some day, realize all the great times we missed out on by 'holding a grudge,' and all I can say is, "WHAT is it I'm going to miss? Being yelled at? Being treated like the little sister who's still not welcome with the big kids? Being accused of ridiculous things?"

No, I don't miss it. It IS freeing. :-D
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by DoubleBarrel View Post
It occurs to me that many of the dysfunctional ways we relate to each other is due to growing up in a dysfunctional home with our folks setting us up to not get along.
Wow - I seriously thought I was the only person in the world who felt this way.
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Old 08-16-2013, 01:57 PM
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I am struggling with my older sister at the moment which is ironic as she is also in recovery and I have a younger sister who has extreme mental health problems so you'd think it was the younger one I'd have issues with, rather than the older one. I think I find it easier to accept that the younger one is sick and dysfunctional as she has an actual mental illness so when she's crazy I can just say and believe she's crazy so don't take it personally.

The older one is a totally different kettle of fish and just typing this now I can see I probably have the expectation that because she is in recovery she should 'be well'. The problem I have with her centre's around the fact I have been in OA for nearly 2 years and for once in my adult life am a normal weight and have developed the ability to eat sanely.

According to her I am too thin and don't eat enough and she has no problems telling me this whenever I see her or dishing out parenting advice regarding how I should be with my teenage daughter whose recently moved out of home despite the fact she has no children of her own.

When I don't buy into her invites for discussion she then wants to discuss the lives of other family members or friends with me and what they're doing wrong. The whole thing is very bizarre and sort of reminds me of another time in my life when I went to SLAA and changed a lot as she was unhappy with choices I made.

A few years ago she tried OA herself and hated it so her reactions could just be a defence thing so she doesn't have to look at her own relationship with food but then again, it may not. I really have no idea why she is reacting the way she is as I am not in her head.

Overeating seems to run in my family as well as alcoholism. And while the substance is different the cycle of dysfunction is exactly the same. I.e denial, blame, dishonesty, secretiveness, rage etc..
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