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I thought I was close to my sister but hell no!!

Discussion in 'Counselling' started by saralee, Dec 4, 2014.

  1. saralee

    saralee New Member

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    I always had a good relationship with my sister,I am 47 and she is 45. Recently I noticed that she keeps a distance and she is very cold towards me. She has 2 young kids and I have 2 teenagers. But I always helped her as much as I could. I stayed at her house for 5 days and helped taking care of her 3 year-old son so they could go on a trip. I stayed with her son again while she was at hospital with her 2nd baby. For 5-6 months, I went to her house every Saturday morning and helped her with the kids because her husband had to work. I babysat her 2 year-old every Tuesday for 10-11 months. I did all of this with so much love and I did it because I wanted to,she never asked for any of these. I enjoyed every second that I spent with her family.last week, she told me that she's been angry with me for months beause I have changed a lot and I alwys play innocent. She said that I always have a mask on and I'm not my true self. All of these are a huge shock to me and I can't digest it. I asked her to meet for a talk so we can resolve it. She is very aggressive and angry also dealing with a lot with her kids. I think her issues go back to our childhood. We have been through a lot as a family. I don't know what to say or how to say it that doesn't make her more upset. I'm scared to loose our relationship. Any help?
     
  2. Tashanie

    Tashanie Well-Known Member

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    It could be that this is the core of the problem....she didn't ask for and maybe didn't want the help however good your motives in offering it. The sad truth is that people don't remember what we do or say....they remember how we make them feel. If your sister didn't want the help she may have felt very uncomfortable with your actions. It doesn't matter that wasn't what you intended......the road to hell is paved with good intentions!

    I hope you can resolve your problems with your sister . I am sure it is much more complex than the one issue that leaped out at me. I am sure others will have other guidance for you. Hopefully the bits and pieces we offer will shine a light and enable you to see how to proceed. Good luck
     
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  3. amy green

    amy green Well-Known Member

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    Sarahlee....since you loved helping her then you were being natural and real. Your sister's comment, therefore, about not being your true self smacks as being more about herself. Perhaps she has been suppressing her feelings towards you? I wonder how much of her current situation, having a lot to deal with, is being projected onto yourself as a punchbag, i.e. that you have become an outlet for the anger about her life? Why would she not value your support at such a time? Have you omitted to include something that might shed some light on this?

    If it is of any consequence, I too have fallen out with my sister but for very different reasons. I was quite close to her up until the time mum became closer to dying. She then leapt into action by not honouring mum's wish to leave her home empty until she died. She convinced my mum to sell and stripped mum's home of all her belongings! It gets worse (i.e. trying to fleece me of my inheritance money) but this is your thread.
     
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  4. saralee

    saralee New Member

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    Tashaine
    You may be right. She rarely asks for help (even when she needs it) and if you offer her any, she thinks that she is incapable of doing it herself( she said it a couple of times ) but knowing her, if you don't offer any help, then she feels and thinks that we are all so into our lives and ignorant to her and she feels lonely.
    I am very uncomfortable talking to her because she has her interpretation of everything you tell her. Whatever I say can seriously offend her. She has a temper too but if I tell her that you are angry and your words and tone is hurtful, she says:" you don't get it, I have changed, I am not that sweet girl anymore and I don't feel close to my family.You see it as an anger which is not, I see you guys because I have too and I can cut it off."
    I can never win with her. But yet, she is my baby sister and I LOVE her kids, I hate even thinking of loosing our closeness even though it has been lost for quiet a long time.
    I keep thinking about her words all the time, it is in my head, day and night, why she sees me as a fake" take off your mask"....? Why?
    My mum calls me many times and complains about the why my sister talks to her, if she asks her: " are you tired?" she lashes of:"why you think I am tired all the time? What should I do to sound NOT-TIRED?"last night,I told her that mum is worried about you and she said :" Take her to a counselor, she needs help for being worried all the time."
    I see that she is tired of everybody trying to help her by actions or words but she doesn't have the verbal skills to tell us nicely that we don't need to be worried about her, she just gets mad and rude.
    I feel so hopeless here. I never felt this way with people around me at work or everyday life. I am a good listener even strangers at work open up to me and ask for advise. I have helped many friends and stranger but with my sister, the girl that I grew up with, I failed badly....
     
  5. Crowan

    Crowan Well-Known Member

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    This sounds as if something has happened in her life - possibly something that she considers your 'fault'. It's not the behaviour of a happy, relaxed person.

    Two questions:
    Would you be able to sit down, possibly with a neutral third person who could act as mediator, and talk it over?

    Are you prepared to hear what she has to say, even if you disagree with it?

    If so, then there could be ways forward.
     
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  6. saralee

    saralee New Member

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    amy
    I explained more about that in my reply to Tashaine. I agree with you in this:"Perhaps she has been suppressing her feelings towards you? I wonder how much of her current situation, having a lot to deal with, is being projected onto yourself as a punchbag, i.e. that you have become an outlet for the anger about her life? " I feel like I Am her punchbag. But how can I tell her, even if I do tell her, it won't solve anything. Though I think she is sick and tired of being the little baby in the family who is most of the time wrong....
    She doesn't see that her immature way of expressing her feelings towards others has contributed a lot to this image. Recently she took a course/seminar on self help and she believes that it has helped her tremendously to come out of her shell and not tiring to be nice to everybody and not to take craps from her family! She was never nice to everybody specially us, she always reacted to whatever she didn't like. But apparently in her mind she put up with our craps!
    She is not a bitch, she is just hurt but I don't know how to deal with her anymore.
     
  7. saralee

    saralee New Member

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    Yes Crown, we are planning to meet next week to talk and I will talk to my therapist before that. No, we don't have a close third person and we are very private people but I may ask her to have a session with my therapist who was hers too.
    Am I prepared to hear what she has to say? YES. Am I looking forward to that ? NO, Do I know what to say and what not to say? NO. She keeps saying:"just be yourself". I am myself but she doesn't see it that way!
     
  8. sacrel

    sacrel Member

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    Sarahlee, I can only add the wonderful comments already here to you.

    You seemed to have found your sisters expressions confusing and unexpected, it’s understandable that you should suddenly find yourself looking for the times where you felt had been most helpful to her, to somehow counteract the effects of her comments, in turn helps to ease any anxiety you may have felt, hoping to find reassurance in the ways that you had helped her and the good times spend together.

    Yet I feel that there could be more to consider here, that when people change, some may change to an extent that they are not always self-aware of these changes, and may only become aware as to the extent of others actions leading them to ask the question “what happened”?

    Your sister may have experienced a change in her relationship with you; her words seem to speak of loss, experiencing the pain of loss that had turned to an ingrained bitterness and resentment, she may have experienced all these feelings silently with no one to talk too, who she felt could understand the way she feels.especially if she had experienced loss in other ways, in this care more so parental figures or other friends and family, at times life may have become very difficult and had struggled, looking for closeness with another.
    If this is the case this is in no way your responsibility but something your sister may have to go through. But understanding her anger and why she feels this way may help her through these times.

    Your sister said “You had changed a lot and I always play innocent. She said that you always have a mask on and that you’re not being your true self”.

    Your sister says “You always play innocent”, she may believe that you should know how she feels inside and may feel that you are refusing to acknowledge what has happened that has led the sisters relationship to this point over time.

    Her comment “You always have a mask on”, again she may believe your hiding from the issue and pretending it doesn’t exist, being someone else may seem to offset the unresolved issues, when with your sister the issue may always at the forefront of her mind, this increases her bitterness towards you because she may believe why does she have to suffer when she may believe you won’t acknowledge it.

    As well as her mentioning “ You had changed a lot, not being your true self”, mentioning change may lead to a sense of loss, no matter how small, it’s a loss of ‘what was’, a sister she once knew maybe, she may miss what she believed were happy times and the times of closeness you both once had, maybe she could at one time talk with you openly about anything and her deepest struggles, yet now finds she has to contain her feelings and thoughts, in turn has led to this outburst you talk about.

    Finally being “true to yourself”, through her anger she seems to care here as she believes if you were true to yourself that you could be more happier, live a life you had hoped for, that you may have shared with her and maybe she believes she would gain her sister back.

    Of course Saralee all the above are thoughts and maybe not be as the case maybe, I don’t know how much is true for you here and if you feel there is an element of acknowledgement for you but maybe too difficult to revisit, may reflect on this as your sisters expression to you. I hoped to offer here another consideration and angle of thought.

    I hope you both may come to talk openly, to be able to clear the air and between you may have the courage to release what seems to keeping this void intact. The truth can be difficult, but facing it is the only way to get to where you both need to be.

    One sister could be silently living and resenting the issues she feels being left with, and maybe one not, yet both will in some way will be in pain.

    Above all consider it’s not what you do, (as you had reflected on the things done in the past), maybe to consider its the closeness, the complete openness and ‘without words’, just the complete meaningful and emotional tight hug that could make all the difference.

    Take care
     
    #8 sacrel, Dec 5, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2014
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  9. Tashanie

    Tashanie Well-Known Member

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    You haven't failed because you cannot help people who don't want to be helped....and from what you say that is the issue with your sister. Trying to do the impossible isn't failing.!!!

    I have NLP training and one of the tenets of NLP jumped at me as I read your post. 'The meaning of communication is the response you . You are saying one thing (I love you and want to help you) for whatever reason she seems to be hearing something different, something very critical of her.

    If you carry on as you have done things will not change. You need to try something different.....I can't suggest what as I don't know your sister ...or indeed you. But if you want to change your relationship with her you have to change how you approach the relationship. Is that fair when from your viewpoint she is in the wrong? Possibly not...but life isn't fair. If the relationship is that important to you it is worthwhile to make the effort. If you change your approach to her the hope is she will as a result change her response to you....and if it changes even a small amount in the right direction that is progress.

    There are no easy answers to this situation sadly. It has built up over time and will take time to sort out. there is no magic wand
     
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  10. saralee

    saralee New Member

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    sacrel
    Your line warmed my heart:
    Finally being “true to yourself”, through her anger she seems to care here as she believes if you were true to yourself that you could be more happier, live a life you had hoped for, that you may have shared with her and maybe she believes she would gain her sister back.
    Sometimes I think that she 's so tired of her family specially me to the point that she doesn't care anymore!

    "Above all consider it’s not what you do, (as you had reflected on the things done in the past), maybe to consider its the closeness, the complete openness and ‘without words’, just the complete meaningful and emotional tight hug that could make all the difference."
    Maybe I was wrong to think just by helping her out physically I am showing my love and presence in her life, maybe that wasn't what she was looking for. Though I still don't know how to approach her without hurting her more specially now that the relationship is so fragile!

    I read all the answers 100 times to come up with a dialog that is open and honest, shinning on my feelings and expectations but yet not hurtful and offending. At this point, I am too uncertain about what is right to say and what is not.
    Any and help and advise regarding "the dialog's" dos and don'ts would be really really appreciated.
     
    #10 saralee, Dec 5, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2014
  11. saralee

    saralee New Member

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    Tashanie
    Thanks for another great advise.
    You are absolutely right. I need to change how I approach her.
    What if I ask her:"what do you want me to do show my love and support?" would that be to cliche?
    She is under lots of stress and pressure these days:
    Her 33 month old daughter has stopped eating her meals, just eating snacks!
    Her 7 year-old son was diagnosed with ADHD a few months ago and he's having a really rough time at school, they receive calls from school almost every week since he's misbehaving.
    But she keeps is as a secret and only my mum and I know about it. A few months ago, she was so stressed out because it was summer time and he was at home and extremely hyper all the time. She told me that she is so tired that she doesn't want to see him for a few days.
    I work in medical field and deal with medicine and drugs all the time and I know the side effects and etc... But seeing her frustration, I suggested to put him on ADHD medication for a few days to see if it is really ADHD(it was his doctor's recommendation too).
    She said that she hates doing that because of all the side effects and they were dealing with it through less invasive and more natural methods. That was it.
    Last week she told me that my comment about "putting him on med" was so hurtful and ignorant and it really offended her.
    She told me that I am too proud of my own kids now that I forgot how difficult and unruly they were when they were younger. How could she come up with all these judgments about me specially when she sees how much I love her kids(maybe she thinks I am a fake about this too). Then I red your post:
    "You are saying one thing (I love you and want to help you) for whatever reason she seems to be hearing something different, something very critical of her."
    So now you know how clueless I am about what to say that doesn't hunt me later.
     
  12. Tashanie

    Tashanie Well-Known Member

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    Well I am a pharmacist ......so meds and their side effects is something i know a lot about. But I can totally understand why she is resistant to the idea of meds for a child. I deal with a LOT of people who are reluctant to take medication. I can see both sides of the argument. The bottom line is she has the ultimate say in what happens to her child . You have to accept that is her decision.


    You say

    "How could she come up with all these judgments about me specially when she sees how much I love her "

    But the problem is she doesn't see that...or she wouldn't react as she does.

    I suspect she may be suffering from depression - which certainly adds a touch or paranoia. When I was depressed I felt the world and his wife was against me and critical of me. I had major rows with my family and friends.

    Sadly there may not be anything you can do except just be there for her if and when she asks you to be. Sometimes being is much more important than doing. Maybe ask her out for a coffee, or pop round to hers for a quick drink....maybe even have a moan about something in your life.

    Almost any change in the dynamic of the relationship has got to be an improvement.
     
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  13. sacrel

    sacrel Member

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    “Maybe I was wrong to think just by helping her out physically I am showing my love and presence in her life, maybe that wasn't what she was looking for. Though I still don't know how to approach her without hurting her, more especially now that the relationship is so fragile!”

    Hi Sarahlee,

    Helping someone physically when they call for help is always a compassionate act, yet you may have done so because this was the only way you knew that offers the kindness of your heart and in a way you express your care for her. Yet you have also started to question she may now need to feel love and care in a way that is different in the way you had genuinely offered.

    Your consideration as to how to approach her, to find a way to ‘fix’ this, what to say?, may not be the approach needed for the desired outcome you hope for both of you. It may take a moment of internal exploration of your own unexplored pain and fears and about how your relationship with your sister has become.

    That the freedom she hopes to find one day may come to be released from your own ability to connect with your own feelings about your love for her and everything she means to you, without blame and critical comments, to explore your own unexplored pains, fears and worries, to be able to find the courage to connect in the face of your pain about this relationship with your sister you feel had lost.

    Your sister seems angry and bitter, unable to hold back expressions of resentment of the past to which it seems she holds reason to project most of these emotions upon you, what then would she experience if she saw that her sister before her who could express her deepest feelings, to connect with your own pain of the relationship you have now and the relationship you both once had.

    To search in your mind back to the most happiest times where words had no place in the knowing that you were wonderfully close sisters, just one look to each other you would know the bond you both once had, today finding yourself asking the question “how then have we arrived at this place”, now experiencing the bond of strangers, passing to make painful comments where inside a cry is heard for the hunger to embrace each other as sisters again.

    What you are looking to say will not need for planning; it will be said from the genuine connection with your own feelings about her in her presence, don’t feel afraid to show your vulnerability, to show you are still real and not afraid to show your are that sister beneath the exterior she sees, that no authority or status threatens her own vulnerability, that will no longer seems to separate you both.

    Exploring your own pain and feelings can uncover deep emotions and can take great courage to express, yet can show her that you care as she experiences you as real, expressing emotionally how you feel about her and your relationship as sisters.
    If you find yourself struggling to contain overwhelming emotions because you have reconnected with that love as sisters, you may experience upset and may end up crying before her and you genuinely reconnect, allow her to comfort you, to hold you if you feel this was to happen.
    She may also begin to share genuinely her pain as you begin to listen, an emotionally connective moment that could be a turning point for you both, but the encounter must be completely open and from the heart, without scorn,blame and criticism,where this could be a real genuine possibility of true change.

    Forgive me if I may write as if you should be correcting something that may not be your issue, as it was your sister who expressed her anger and discomfort, but to connect with her she needs to feel a sense of realness, to feel a connection, to see the real you, a transparency. And that may mean exploring your own feelings before her. Why would you want to do this? Because you care, you care about how she sees you and you care that what was once a real close sister bond may seem lost.

    You know Sarahlee, that in the end, after life has taken you both in different directions and you both had experienced difficulties over the years that had carried you in the most painful places, it’s understandable for close sisters to become lost to an extent they may hold resentments because they were not there as they expected, where in reality life may have become to difficult to cope with. Yet after years have passed, where time had left memories on the mind, one day you both may come to see that after all these years the only thing that mattered in the end is that ......you found each other again.

    This could be that time. The willingness to drop all, where bitterness, anger and resentments drop away, where you both become true to yourself, to come together once again.

    I wish you all the hope that your relationship will soon overcome all wounds.

    Take care
     
    #13 sacrel, Dec 5, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 6, 2014
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  14. saralee

    saralee New Member

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    Dear all
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have more confidence to face this problem now because of you nice people.
    All of you that took your time to write to me and help me to see this from a different angle are angels.
    People like you make this world a better place.
    Love you all
     
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  15. David100351

    David100351 Member

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    As a practical tool, you can't get much better than the lovingkindness meditation taught by the Buddhists: https://thebuddhistcentre.com/text/loving-kindness-meditation
    Your sister will probably start out in the third or fourth stage of this meditation. The meditation has a magical effect on relationships, even if the other person has no idea that you are actually doing the meditation. I must confess that at the moment I do this meditation daily as part of my preparation for seeing clients (I am person-centred, and "unconditional positive regard" and lovingkindness have many qualities in common), and as essential upkeep for my marriage too.
    And even if the improvement in your relationship is a bit slow, you will still benefit greatly by embracing this meditation.
     
  16. Zandalee

    Zandalee Active Member

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    Saralee, this is really a painful situation to deal with emotionally. I know every person has an opinion but I would start by loving and treating yourself with kindness. Sounds, as if your sister has to work on her "stuff" and you are wise not to overreact. Angry and aggression does not allow to get close to others and is a shield. You can not take her shield away only she can. Rest in your calmness and continue to work on you. Empathize with the journey.
     
  17. Ericbronson

    Ericbronson New Member

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    The only good relationship you should worry about is the one you have with your kids. They are a blessing. Your immediate family is the only thing that matters. Or at least, they should be first. The rest are whatever . . . either way, I hope you have a phenomenal life.
     

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