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toxic sister


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Initial post: Sep 5, 2008 7:49:02 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 5, 2008 8:15:50 AM PDT
WT says:
Here is something I recently wrote concerning my sister and me, and I feel grief. I know that I did what I needed to do. It still hurts.

It was just a couple of weeks ago when I sent my sister an email to ask that she not call me when she comes to my town ( 3 hours from hers) to do something other than to see me and then suddenly calls, expecting me to jump and run to wherever she is if I am to see her at all. I said that it is hard for me to jump and run without notice.

She got defensive, I tried to explain how I wanted her to consider my feelings and ask me before she decides to do things that affect me.. She didn't like it, and the more I tried to explain, the angrier she became. She is angry because I say she is controlling and bossy, and that I want her to stop. She denies being that way. We reached a deadlock. She said, "we are done" and "goodbye".

I have felt compelled to sit and list all of the hurtful things that she has done to me from as long as I can remember until now. I couldn't understand why, but I suppose I need to justify the feelings I have had even for my own self, even knowing the truth as I know it. But, what would I do with it when I was done? Use it against her in some way? Leave it for my children to read some day so they can hate her and maybe confront her children, their own cousins? Would it be good to leave this "curse" on my children? It is dry bones, and who cares?

I have to live life today and work on today, and I cannot let the hurts of the past destroy the "todays" I have left. I need to let this go and go on.

I think that I still know I have to write this, maybe, just for closure.

I was born 21/2 years sooner than she. Therefore, for as long as I can remember, she was there. Most of the time, I knew she hated me, and I had to take care of her anyway. Up until about ten years ago, she has been mostly awful to me. Some of it has also been in recent years, but mostly not, since she has settled down and gotten herself together- mostly since she has had Eddie.

I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I believed that mostly, she did not intend to be awful. I believed that she just only thought of herself, oblivious to anything except for whatever she wanted or needed. Most of the times, she didn't realize she was being selfish or controlling. Therefore, I believed that our tainted relationship was also my fault for not saying how I feel or standing up for myself. I excused her for being human because I have plenty of faults of my own.

I tried to let things go and just kept forgiving her for hurting me and things as they happened. But, most things were never confronted, and she didn't know how I felt. She did not know of any offense if it was just an instance of being selfish or unfair. However, I am sure she was aware of the things she did on purpose when she did them, but she doesn't know I know about some things she did to me.

Whenever I did confront issues, we argued, and nothing was ever resolved. I do know that she usually got mad at me and made me pay by staying mad for months at a time. I can remember when she was genuinely sorry for only one thing, but mostly she is never sorry. Over time, I stopped telling her how I felt or standing up for myself. I always knew that we could not have a relationship at all unless I always bended and conformed to whatever it was that she wanted. I chose battles wisely because I wanted to get along. I am suddenly realizing that she trained me to let her do as she pleased however her decisions affected me.

In recent years, maybe for the last ten, she has done some wonderful and amazing things to help me. Five of these years, Jeremy and I have lived in Springfield, so distance has been my personal boundary. She has done all that she can to show that she loves me. She has gone beyond wonderful, sometimes. It was puzzling. I always think that this was possibly due to guilt, and just trying to make up for things she knew she had done. Still, I sometimes feel the jealousy or resentment coming from her like always. As she recently said of me, I think it is true of her-"you don't really love or even like me, but I understand that you try."

All I wanted was a good relationship where I could say what I need and how I feel and that she would respect that. I thought it might be possible, now.

I thought that I forgave her for the times she hurt me throughout most of our lives, and I am not sure that I did because as soon as she hurts me again, all of it starts shooting up like lava from my soul. I remember things today that were dead and buried many years ago.

When things are never confronted and resolved, how do you truly forgive? The person did not even ask for forgiveness. I asked God to help me to forgive. But, these things still hide in the shadows of my heart. Nothing truly healed, but the "splinters" are still festering in there, surrounded by pockets of infection beneath the smooth skin. I ignore them and live for today. I forgive! I forgive my sister for being human and making mistakes as I have also done in different ways than she.

I hoped for a healthy friendship where everyone's feelings matter. So, I confronted her on recent things because she wanted examples of things she had done that were controlling. I used current issues to show her ways that she treads over my feelings and told her what I want and need today. I told her I need her to respect and consider my feelings-"Today". She, at first, denies any offense and then, later, says that my feelings are not justified. She does not truly apologize for anything, but brings up all the good she had done in recent years "to prove she is not controlling", and sarcastically says she is sorry. In this way, she minimizes my right to feel the way I feel. It was just to say that I am easily and unjustly offended. She gets angry and wants nothing to do with me any more.

This proves to me that the only way to have any relationship with her is to continue to be compliant. I will not do that, so there it is. It is hard to believe that this is for the best. I can't fix it now. We are done. What have I really lost?

We cannot have a healthy relationship or even a real friendship, so what is there-- only a lifetime of memories- some precious- and the bonds of having a sister. I still love her. I don't hate her and don't want to hurt her.

We just don't have to associate because she just proved to me that we cannot get along unless I continue being a "pleaser". I refuse.

When you tell a person some way they have hurt you, and they deny it, minimize the importance of it, or act like something is wrong with you because you don't like what they did to you, there can be no resolution, can there? They are not sorry. Even God does not forgive you unless you sincerely ask Him to and are truly sorry. Yet, when we harbor resentment, we poison ourselves. I think that all I can do now is let this go and go on with my life without my sister in it. I will honor her decision. In fact, I will enforce it.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2008 12:36:05 PM PDT
God does forgive because unlike what most religions teach, God cannot do anything else. We are Her/His children and we are loved. Forgive your sister, not so much for her but for yourself. She has been confronted with something that has obviously dented her veneer and maybe one day she will come to you, and maybe not. But only you can find peace for you. You need to heal yourself. Don't close the door forever, she may grow and discover what she has lost. By all means protect yourself but leave the door ajar. For her but mainly for you.
God bless you and may the love that God wishes for everyone become your daily reality.
Regards, Elisabeth

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2008 1:32:28 PM PDT
Dawn says:
I commend you for ending it. I have a similar relationship with my Mother, but have yet to muster the courage to even voice my feelings in any way.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 5, 2008 6:33:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 5, 2008 6:47:48 PM PDT
WT says:
Thank you! I appreciate your comments very much. I just needed to let someone else know. I have kept on forgiving and forgiving and forgiving her for things she keeps doing for years. In my heart, I forgive her. It is when she hurts me again that all the memories of past betrayals come rushing back. I forgive her, but she is not sorry. Until she is sorry for ANYTHING, I see no way for us to have a real friendship where I am not there to please her and doing everything she wants to do when and how she wants to do it. I mostly feel very sad, now. Sometimes it is so hard to focus on things I must do every day. But, I will leave the door ajar.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2008 12:26:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 8, 2008 12:28:23 PM PDT
Moosemarcy says:
WT, boy do I understand everything you said. I also have a sister that is so toxic it became unbearable to be around her. I tried so hard because we lost our parents in our early twenties. I felt so sorry for her because she is so sick. Distorted reality. She is so angry at everthing and everyone. I am her twin and she in insanely jealous of me and it is so sad. I do love her but I can't be around her anymore. It has been now over two years. She is a severe alcoholic and has been a horrible mother to her boys. My heart aches inside over all of this. But in order to save myself I had to let go of it all. I tried so hard to help her boys but now they are in their late teens and doing everything bad. Drugs etc. My hands are tied. They have distanced themselves.
Just want you to know I do understand the pain you have. Especially a sister. I do not tell many people because they would find it shocking how my sister is. I am only touching on how bad it was. Time does help but it will hurt always. Probably till the day I die. When you said what have I really lost. That is so true.
It was such an unbearable weight on my shoulders all of the time. We never were very close. Maybe in proximity but we could not ever really get to know each other. She was to jealous and angry at me and everyone else. I wish she would have gotten help, I tried so many times to help her get help but she would not. I feel so sorry for her. I can not believe she still functions in life. She drinks everyday and is so unhappy. Just want you to know I understand.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2008 3:24:50 PM PDT
WT says:
Thank you! I can relate to some of the things that you posted here, too.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2008 10:08:38 AM PDT
J. Sto says:
I can relate to your story in so many ways!! You did what was best for YOU and YOUR household which should always come first. Your sister is a grown woman with her own responsibilities and she should understand that the world doesn't revolve around her schedule. My opinion is that Sisters share a very special bond and love however, it is a human relationship where there will be peaks and valleys. You made the first step toward independence from her controlling ways and you need to be proud of yourself for that. It isn't easy, I know!! I think that if you continue to be compliant, you will be cheating yourself...continue to be polite and put your needs first. I just read a book that was life changing for me (also a pleaser) that you might be interested in "The Dance of Anger (A Woman's Guide To Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships)" by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D. God helps those who help themselves...Good luck to you. JS

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2008 10:29:56 AM PDT
WT says:
I appreciate your sharing very much. That sounds like a good book for me to read, too. will see about getting it to read. Thank you!

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2008 2:13:56 PM PDT
B. Errico says:
You know what's right so do it!

You've stated several times that you need to move on and I agree. My mother allowed her sister to control her all the time. My mother would do anything she wanted even if she didn't want to. A lot of this affected me b/c I had to comply to this crazy distorted "reality" as well. Let me just say I am trying to forgive my mother not her sister WHY? Because I just don't understand how somebody can allow another person to not only dictate her but also her child, me.

In todays modern society the word family doesn't have the same amount of intergrity or respect it once had. Sadly when somebody is that negative and toxic it is not your job to help them see reality. You tried and failed and you will keep failing at this relaionship for it's a Catch 22 you either conform failing yourself or you argue. All of this is really just words the truth is you need action and that action was stated in your story Forgive and MOVE ON!

Also your forgiving her for her faults you realize she has issues, but aren't going to allow her issues to consume you anymore.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2008 4:00:13 PM PDT
rndrc says:
I understand the person who tells you to forgive your sister-BUT you can forgive her in your heart, understanding that she must be eaten up with the negativity that she creates-you DO NOT have to interact with her. If you contact her in the spirit of forgiveness, she will take it as a victory, and proof that you were wrong, and that she was right, and the whole cycle will start again. Most faiths teach forgiveness, but they don't make continued abuse a part of that forgiveness. It has taken me a long time, but I have learned to forgive a couple of people who are completely toxic; I understand that we are all broken somehow, but I do not interact or stay in contact with them, as nothing has changed. In fact, if a person is unable to see that they are cruel or unkind to those around them, and everyone continues to tolerate them-better yet, reward their horrible behavior with friendship-will they ever change? That's like giving your kid candy every time they misbehave. Stay strong and don't feel guilty for finally having the strength to stand up for your self; don't forget that when Christ said love your neighbor as yourself, that he was also saying that you need to love yourself-it's not a sin.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2008 7:39:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 10, 2008 7:50:31 PM PDT
WT says:
Hi, D. Betz,

Thank you for posting here. I appreciate it, and I think I may be able to help you, too. Here is an exerpt of one of my emails to my sister. It may help you to understand some of the reasons your mom might have allowed the control of her sister and why it was hard to stop letting things be the way they were:

"Hey, Sis,

The way you answered my email makes me think that you are angry. It is possible that you didn't read all four sentences of my email and then jumped to the conclusion that I do not want you to call me AT ALL... Therefore, you just will not "bother" me at all...

All I asked is that you don't call when you are here in my town¬ to do something other than visit me. I DO want you to call and let me know when you are coming to see me. I think that is a reasonable request.

If you try to understand this as I intend it, it may be possible to have a real friendship. If you read this letter quickly and take offense, then, the result could be costly to us both. Love is all that obligates me to anyone. I do things for people because I love--when I can and want to.

You and your husband have been in town several times over the last couple of years, and called for me to meet you somewhere. I know it is convenient for you, like `killing two birds with one stone'. I want you to understand that it is hard for me to just jump and run to see you whenever you decide to come to my town to do something else. Whenever I can't or don't do something you want, I worry that you will be angry or `hurt' because many times you have been offended when you don't get your own way. I feel bad when I cannot or do not want to do something you want me to do. I usually have complied as much as I can, want to or not.

I want you to understand that I love you, but I also want you to care about my feelings and needs that are just as important as yours- and NOT be angry with me now.

I have never gone to your town to do something else, suddenly called you, and expected you to drop whatever you were doing and run somewhere to see me. If I am on a trip, it is a costly, rare thing and a big deal. It is usually to see family, and if I am coming through your town, I always visit you. (A while back, when you were sick, I stopped to see you and to help if you needed me. I had a present for you, but Eddie said "No visitors". I left medicine and the perfume in the soapstone for you with him as a token of my love.)

There are scars from our past that ruin our relationship even today. Mom and Dad forced me to watch out for you, to take care of you no matter how you treated me. The times I failed at that are what you and they remembered. They allowed you to be a little brat, throw fits, and even get your way. If you were mean to me and I retaliated, they punished me for being a bully; they did not punish you after you started things. They may not have believed you started it. It built resentments in me for you that would sometimes overshadow love. I was obligated to take care of you. They made it my responsibility. It was not your fault, but as a child, I could not see that.

In our family, they did not allow us to have many personal boundaries. I learned that it was wrong to be angry. To say "No" was also wrong. So, I held my feelings inside, tried to get rid of any bad ones, and buried them until I couldn't even tell how I felt about things myself. These things made me sick, both physically and emotionally. I grew up, desperately trying to justify my own existence (also not my job). I tried to make them proud and love me by achieving and trying to be good. It never worked. Dad owned and controlled all of us. Mom was depressed and resentful most of the time. They had their own problems. As the oldest, they raised me to be a caretaker and a pleaser.

I learned that what I wanted or felt was not important. My role in life was to please people I love, avert tornados, and to rescue everyone I loved. My job was to be there to please everyone all of the time. Christian teachings about being "Godly" and "Christian" gave me love and hope, but parts of it were wrong. Those parts reinforced the stuff that nearly killed my soul and robbed me of self-esteem. Now, I know that that is not what God meant. He does not want us to love others and hate ourselves. He does want us to deal with feelings, work through them, and to heal. Feelings of anger are a healthy reaction to pain or injustice. There are no right or wrong feelings or emotions. How we deal with them is where right and wrong comes in.

I will never live that way again. I do not like being controlled. I hate when anyone tries to manipulate me with guilt or anger. As a human being, I have human rights such as the right to maintain personal boundaries.

I think learning to control things around you gave you your needed feelings of security since we were not in control of most things in our lives. Even now, when we are together in your town or mine, we do what you want, when you want. It is all about what YOU want-- control.

If I go on a trip or ride with you, you refuse to lock your vehicle when I worry about someone stealing my things in there. It just shows me who is boss (for the moment) and that my feelings do not matter. It also makes me wish I had not come with you. How much trouble would it be for you to lock your car for me even though you think it is silly? We go places you want to go and eat where you want to eat. We do what you want to do. Oh, I know you think you care how I feel, but from this end, it feels that you want me to do what YOU want, and that I had better LIKE it.

Can you see why I might seem distant or withdraw from you?

I want healthy friendships with my sisters where everyone's feelings matter. Since you asked our sister to tell me to `be honest and not nice' concerning your coming here on the evening she arrived, I thought that you had grown to care what I want and need. (By the way, that was fine; I did want to see you, too.)

If I did not love you and I did not value our relationship, I would not try to make you understand anything now. I would just let you go on and think whatever you want just as I do with people I don't care for.

I do not want to argue or lose what we friendship have. We are getting older, and time is running out. I will ALWAYS love you...."

So, D. Betz, this letter was what started everything. My sister got mad, and nothing I said since this made her understand anything. She started bringing up every good thing she has ever done for me and just kept getting more angry.

If this type of thing happened to your mother, it might explain some things. My own children cannot understand why it is so hard for me to say, "No", either. They cannot understand because they were not raised like me. I raised them to know that they are precious. They have always known that they were cherished. Their feelings mattered. If your mom raised you knowing that you are precious too, then, be thankful. I hope it helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2008 7:40:08 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 10, 2008 7:42:41 PM PDT
WT says:
Thank you so very much, Dawn R Cornish. I feel exactly the same way that you do.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 12, 2008 12:17:57 PM PDT
Jim & Lori says:
I've had the same "bad big sister' experience--if you feel compelled to try that hard to get her to understand your viewpoint, and it still doesn't make your relationship any better--YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO CALL IT QUITS!!! She does not need you--you've always been unwanted competition--let her GO. If some day she feels like she's missing out on something by not having you in her life, she'll let you know--don't worry about her and your relationship with her anymore--worry about yourself.

Posted on Dec 16, 2011 1:37:23 PM PST
Jan says:
I think a lot of us have similar situations and we feel bad because it is "family". Being family is not an excuse for bad behavior. When people are bullies, it is best to stay away from them for your own sanity. You can't "win" in a situation like this. The last example of my sister's behavior is when we were all together at my Mom's house, cleaning it out and getting it ready to sell. My sister was at her house, doing who knows what. After working in the morning we decided to order pizza for lunch. After the pizza arrives, my sister shows up and is insanely pissed that no one ordered her anything. Never mind that she didn't call to let us know she was even coming or that we didn't know she would want anything. Whatever. It's best to let this nuttty behaivor pass.

Posted on Dec 12, 2012 9:49:47 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 12, 2012 9:58:03 AM PST
PM says:
Hi WT - I just read your posts here for the first time, even though they were written over 4 years ago. It's interesting to me since I too have a toxic younger sister, coincidentally about 2 1/2 yrs younger than me, and I cut ties with her for similar reasons about 4 years ago - in Sept 2008. In fact it was a few weeks after your initial post, which could have been written by me, it was so similar to my own feelings and thoughts on the situation. Things came to a head after my father's death and I made the decision to cut her out of my life. Like you, I had endured a lifetime of her manipulating and control tactics, and when it became clear to me through her actions that she is a devious sociopath, that was all I needed to know. I won't elaborate on those actions here for privacy reasons, but suffice it to say she convinced me that she does not care one bit about me, my children or my husband and will stop at nothing to get the attention, money, control and affection she is seeking from our mother, who is her loyal enabler. Our mother, of course, would like to see us kiss and make up, but I told her there is nothing to forgive - my sister simply is not the kind of person I associate with - even if she is a family member. I said I am not angry at her. How can you be angry at someone for having a personality disorder and being a sociopath? It is like being angry with a dog for being a carnivore. It is in their nature and that's just how it is. But I will protect myself and my husband and children from ever being her targets and/or victims again. So we have remained on a no-contact basis with her and it seems to have made our lives happier and more peaceful. At some point I had to just let go of the fact that I can't control what she says about us behind our backs, and can't make my mother resist being sucked in to her manipulation and influence. I had to just stop caring what anyone thinks of us because I have no control over what is said about us. I had to just stop caring if my mother approves of me, my husband and children. It just doesn't matter to us anymore. They "won" the battle but have lost our hearts. As the saying goes, "no one can hurt you like your family", but at the same time you have control over the importance and influence a family member has in your life. You have the ultimate "shut off" valve. My advice is to save your heart for those that are deserving of your love, affection and trust, and let the rest move on. I hope you are doing better now and have made peace with your decision as well.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 19, 2012 4:24:32 AM PST
Chilly Down says:
She sounds highly manipulative, self-serving, and remorseless.

Good riddance. Keep it that way. Please.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2012 6:50:40 AM PST
rndrc says:
It's hard to make this choice, as other people, even those in similar situations have a hard time of grasping to the damage that these people do-for when you try to explain, it oft sounds as if you are being petty, but you are not-these people are emotional and psychological vampires-they just suck you dry and exhaust you-there is nothing vengeful or petty in severing ties with these people; it is a sanity and life-saving tactic that needs to be maintained.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2012 12:28:40 PM PST
PM says:
rndrc...I agree with you 100%, it is a hard choice to make and you have to give up on the idea that you can make others understand why you have chosen to eliminate such a person from your life. My mother has called me "petty" when I have tried to explain my reasons for my decision. But she isn't the one that was repeatedly lied to and manipulated, so she can't relate to my feelings. Or, more accurately, she doesn't KNOW that she has been lied to and manipulated since she has blinders on. So she just thinks I'm "mad" and "angry" which I am not. And as far as forgiveness, I have nothing to forgive. My sister was just doing what sociopaths do...they target anyone standing in the way of their access and control over their victim, which in this case is our mother. My husband, kids and I were targeted by her because my mom was close to us, especially our daughter. So my sister was able to clear us out of her way and now has total control over our aging mother, both healthwise and financially. Fine...she "won" whatever that means. Hope she is enjoying her "prize". I no longer care what any of my family thinks of me or my husband and kids. We are free and no longer living in their web of lies, manipulation and control. So as far as I'm concerned - it was a win for us as well!

Posted on Jan 21, 2013 8:10:36 AM PST
widowTink says:
I had to cut ties with my toxic sister as well. It hurt like hell but I'm better off. I can't live my life through the toxic haze of her addictions, we ultimately have nothing in common. We are like polar opposites in most important ways. She can't accept me the way I am, she is selfish and manipulative (as addicts can be). She made my last trip to Disneyland a nightmare ('nuff said.) We're done. I hope she gets well, but I can't change her, I can't help her, and it isn't my fault. There will always be an emptiness where she should be.

Posted on Jan 21, 2013 9:35:35 PM PST
PennyLane says:
I am disabled and in my 60s; I have parents who will come over once a year or two without giving a call about coming - they've even MOVED without giving me a phone number (for two years!) so I had to find them on the internet when they had a house built which wasnt online yet - and when I did find them my mother said "but you are supposed to find us"...and it's all downhill from that.
It is a parent who "teaches" by inaction as well as actions - how the siblings pattern (dynamics) act out in lifelong manner like many of you describe and so many of us have experienced.
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Initial post:  Sep 5, 2008
Latest post:  Jan 21, 2013

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