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Broken relationship with Sister after Infertility, I need helpful advice

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  • #46732
    elodie
    Participant

    Where do I begin? It feels like a lifetime has passed this year and my sister and I’s problems started years before. I’ll do my best to summarize. 5 years ago my sister moved to where I live because she met her soon to be husband here. We were close at the time. I am married and me and my husband were in counseling. I was dealing with the emotional repercussions of childhood sexual abuse by my uncle, my father’s brother. At this time, no one in my family knew about anything. In therapy I was working on writing and letter to my dad and just trying to figure out how to tell my parents everything so I could heal. One night, my sister and I were out to dinner. We had a couple of drinks and the topic weighed heavy on my heart. I ended up confiding in her hoping to ease the pain of telling my parents by telling her first. Long story short, my sister had a reaction I did not expect. She got upset and left me in the restaurant. I searched for her and couldn’t find her and found her back at my house. When I found her, she was on the phone with my parents crying and telling them everything. I was in shock, humiliated, ashamed, and just embarrassed beyond belief. I was so angry and told her to leave and never to talk to me again. I stopped my therapy and didn’t speak to anyone in my family for close o 6 months. Eventually Lauren and I reconciled and I forgave her. She did apologize but always, there were buts and ifs attached. She could never just say I’m sorry.

    over a year passed and my sister asked me to be the maid of honor in her wedding. I agreed but was hesitant because it was not like our relationship was something I trusted completely. However, I figured it was something I would regret if I did not do. During the wedding I was completely caught off guard as they announced his name in remembrance of him while I was standing next to her on the altar. I stood there in pain and in shock. And though it probably didn’t register to my parents, or anyone else in the room, I felt the same shame again. When the ceremony finished I looked at the program and was even more shocked to see that she had also included his name in her program. It wasn’t just the act of putting his name in her ceremony after I told her that hurt, it was that she hadn’t even thought enough of me to tell me this was going to happen and to be prepared for it. No one knew my pain except for my amazing husband. I managed to get through the night and even gave a speech which felt like a complete lie while I was giving it.

    After the wedding I decided that this was a huge lapse in judgement but that I just didn’t have it in me to go into things with her again. I think I gave up because I was trying to self preserve and didn’t want to rehash everything from my past. A few months later we got into an argument about something completely unrelated and I lost it on her. I began screaming at her about her and asking her how she could do that to me. It was not a graceful moment and I have come to regret it. After that incident, I could not talk to her for a couple of months because I needed to get over my anger. Again, she apologized. However in her apology she justified her actions saying that it would be rude not to mention his name and she thought long and hard about how that would make my 90 year old grandparents feel. Both, who have dementia. I found it ridiculous that she had thought so hard about how it would make them feel but didn’t think at all about how it would make her own sister feel.

    I eventually accepted her apology but honestly never trusted or felt the same about her again. Since we live in the same town and our husbands were close we continued to hang out on the weekends. Also, we became close with her 2 step children and I loved them dearly and wanted to spend time with them.

    Fast forward 2 years, me and my husband had been trying to get pregnant for 2 years with no success and eventually found out that we were infertile. He has severe male factor infertility. We were told we could try IVF but we may never be able to have our own biological children due to the severity of his condition. We were devastated but we decided not to give up hope and we searched for a dr. immediately. We jumped right in to the IVF process knowing the battle we had ahead of us but unfortunately we were still dealing with our grief of our diagnosis at the same time. During our first cycle, my sister and her husband were around and few inappropriate things were said on a regular basis. My brother in law would talk about trying to get my sister pregnant on a regular basis to my husband who couldn’t get me pregnant. It was very strange. I really think they were incapable of understanding the severity of our situation. We let things go but tension was building and we probably should have said something along the way.

    My first cycle was a horrible failure, we spent 25 thousand dollars to get the medical help we needed and the Doctor made a mistake and we lost all 23 of my eggs. I was devastated! I was in a terrible amount of grief over everything. 2 weeks later my sister was on her way to our house to go our with us with friends for the first time since our loss to have dinner and try to cheer up. She came over 30 minutes early and as soon as she walked in, she just smiled and said, I have to tell you something. “I’m pregnant”. I was in shock. It stung so hard. I kept my composure but deep down I was in so much pain. It was hard enough after our diagnosis to even see a pregnant woman, much less have my sister tell me in such a causal way, without my husband by my side.

    That night I wrote a letter to her and my family that I was grieving. I said that I could not speak to anyone and that I needed time to process things and that unfortunatiely that meant that I could not be there for her during her pregnancy. I hoped they could all understand. I had to deal with my depression and grief and take care of us. My sister was angry that I could not be there for her. She had her husband send us an email that was inappropriate and she never contacted me.

    We haven’t talked in 6 months. I reached out a couple of times and it has gone terrible wrong. I even called to apologize for anything that i had done to hurt her. She just could never understand how to not take this personally. She says that my infertility and my reaction to her announcement has cast a dark shadow over her whole pregnancy.

    My husband and I tried IVF one more time and are so happy to announce that we are now 10 weeks pregnant!!! It is truly a miracle! Unfortunately, the issues with my sister have created a mess within my family and I just want peace. I reached out again to try to see if she wanted to go to lunch or just agree to disagree for the family’s sake and she ended up screaming for 10 minutes on the phone. She is very very angry. This was our last contact a couple of days ago. I am not sure now what to do. I feel so defeated and as if this is going to continue to plague our family and my own heart forever.

    If you have read this, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your time. If you have any words of wisdom they would be greatly appreciated. I am at a complete lost and willing to look at this from any perspective. Please Help!

    #46734
    Kinny
    Participant

    Eloise,
    Wow, it sounds like you have had your share of life experiences! Your confusion and grief sounds understandable.

    A few things came to mind as I read your words. First of all, it sounds as though your sister may have narcissistic and/or sociopathic characteristics. Not to villanize her, but some people are just not born with a sense of empathy that comes naturally to many people. It doesn’t sound as though she is trying to go out of her way to hurt you, she just has a vastly different way of perceiving things. Her insensitivity is just who she is, it’s not because she doesn’t love you or want good things for you.

    Personally, I’ve learned the hard way just to keep a lot of distance with people like that because I was constantly felt sucker punched, even when I tried to do the kind and right thing. There is a saying “Don’t go to the hardware store looking for bread.” It’s sad that even though she is your sister, looking for understanding or support for her will probably only be setting yourself up for disappointment. In the same way, trying to talk things out with her will also only end up with little positive results.

    I’ll share something personal in hopes that you can spare yourself: I had a close friend who had similar characteristics who did similar things. I tried do to everything possible to understand her side, meet her half way, be there for her, etc. In the end, she was still oblivous and looking out for herself and I was bitter and humiliated. I let it consume me and ended up spending the last year of my dad’s life telling him all the ways I kept trying to give her another chance only to be kicked in the teeth again. For your own sake, just detach and meet your needs through people who know how to be caring and empathetic. Spinning your wheels and trying to make it work with people who hurt you deeply is usually pretty draining. Unfortunatley you can’t change other people, even if you are “right” and even if you are related.

    I highly recommend Al Anon to anyone with dysfucntional and/or destructive family members. Also, if you are unfamiliar with sociopathic behavior, I found the book The Sociopath Next Door to be informative. Lastly. I’ve recently started Metta Meditation and found that to be a tremendous help. I like Sharon Salzberg’s Guided Meditation on Youtube. I hope something I said resonated.

    Good luck and congratulations on your pregnancy!!!

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 8 months ago by Kinny.
    #46780
    daxdrifter
    Participant

    Dear Elodie,

    It sounds as though you and your sister have a very dysfunctional and competitive relationship. Are you very close in age and did this began in childhood? You mention that this began 5 years ago and you were close at the time that she moved to your city, but I wonder if there was always a competitive relationship between you that has escalated with time.

    I don’t think your sister is sociopathic or narcissistic, as the previous poster stated, and please be careful with labels, as they do more harm than good. As much as I commiserate with what you described, especially the way your sister thoughtlessly violated your trust, pointing fingers at the other sister is not going to help you both heal. We are hearing just your side of the situation and if we heard her side, maybe we could find a kernel of logic in her outrageous behavior. For example, perhaps your sister was also abused by this uncle, but her way of coping with it was to pretend it never happened. This can be a reaction to abuse, and sometimes the victims of abuse to go out of their way to protect their abuser. I’m not saying that happened; the point is, anything is a possibility. It’s likely there is an un-obvious reason for the way your sister reacted to that news. (For the record, I once confided something very, very personal to my closest friend, and before she even reacted, she ran out of the room and told her boyfriend, who was elsewhere in the house; never have I felt so betrayed in my life, and taken aback at her complete lack of respect and compassion for me. It was the beginning of the breakdown of our trust and we no longer speak. Had she been my sister, I would have worked harder to fix it. Since she was just a friend, I chalked it up to us growing apart.)

    What you need to do is visit a counselor together. You mention going to couples counseling with your husband; you need to take this same step with your sister. If she is unreceptive, I’d encourage you do this. As angry as you are with her, sit down and force yourself to make a list of the things you love about her. Spend 20-30 minutes thinking about the good things she’s brought to your life, in order to create a positive mindset. Then, sit down and write her a heartfelt letter. Tell her that it would mean the world to you if she’d attend counseling with her because you love her and are afraid of reaching a point where your relationship is completely unsalvageable.

    I’m so sorry for the abuse you’ve endured, and the further trauma caused by a betrayal from someone close to you. I wish you much luck in the healing process. Congratulations on your pregnancy! Best of luck to you.

    -dax

    #47020
    Kinny
    Participant

    Elodie (sorry about the typo before)

    I second what Dax said about labels not being helpful and wanted to comment on that. (I don’t want internet argurments, so please don’t take it like that, Dax.) Slapping labels so you can remain blameless and make someone else out to be a villian is not productive. My point about bringing up those words was to consider something that you might not be aware of. Let’s say that someone lies, and you try to fix it by assuring them that you will not judge them, or that you won’t get mad, etc. You can keep guessing at people’s different reasons for lying, and try to reassure them that it is not neccessary. Sometimes you can see what keeps them from being honest and you can address that need. Now let’s say that you try this with someone who is a compulsive liar, but you’ve never met one before and you didn’t even know that they existed. Sometimes people’s personalities can rock your paradigm and you don’t know how to compute becuase it doesn’t register with anything else that you’ve experienced. Now if you tell people about all the ways you’ve tried to reassure the compulsive liar and people just keep saying, “Well, tell them that they don’t have to lie to you becuase xyz” then it’s a futile battle. Sometimes you’ve done everything you can and people just are who they are. It doesn’t make you perfect and them awful, it just means that maybe they aren’t good for you in some capacity and a different strategy is needed. Maybe you are keep trying over and over to fix something with a wrench when what you really need is a hammer.

    In the case of your sister, I hope for your sake that I’m wrong. I hope no one else on this forum can relate to dealing with people with narcissitic or sociopathic tendencies. In the end we are all just strangers interpretting stranger’s stories and offering our own experiences with our own natural human distortions. I just suggest those thoughts so that if you read up on it and it does resonate with you, perhaps it will give words to an experience or gut feeling that is hard to express. I believe that narcissists and sociopaths deserve love and forgiveness, but I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t do it at my own expense.

    Best of luck and I hope you find answers that resonate with you.

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