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Love-Hate relationship with my sister

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  • #386477
    Lutie
    Participant

    I used to look up to my older sister as the well rounded person who is intelligent, sociable, outgoing and brave but this admiration slowly faded with time. For as long as I could remember my sister always found me annoying (directly told me), she refused to recognize herself as the older sister eventhough she is two years older than me. I remember when we were younger, my sister would always bully me with mean comments (how ugly or stupid I was), restricted me to use only one drawer for my belongings (we shared a room together),  ignored me at school (ask me to pretend that I don’t know her because she was embarrassed of me) etc. At times, my sister would manipulate me into doing things for her without myself questioning her actions. When I did retaliate, I bit her because that was the only way I knew how to defend myself as I was a timid child (have trouble expressing myself verbally), she would always tell on me where I would receive punishments (cane, hanger or leather belt) from my dad (my older brothers would always stop him if he overdid it). Getting bullied at school did not help either (classmates would pick on me and my teacher would talk down on me). The bullying from my sister never really stop until 15, I decided to not take her bs anymore and learned how to fight back (communicate my dismay through arguments). During my second year in university, my sister fell into depression (till today I am still unsure what happened when she did masters abroad).

    After I moved back home, I shared a room with my sister. Again, I did not have a place to unpack my belongings (all my stuff is still in my luggage believe or not) which stayed that way for quite a while. I tried very hard to be understanding but it was too much to bear. In the middle of the night, she would constantly walk in & out of the room while slamming the door, then she would search the luggage or pack certain things, at times she would scream out load or suddenly grab my hand (which I would flinch because it triggers me due to prior experience). During that three years, my family and I endured whatever she said or did because she was depressed. Whenever I tried to ask for a space, she would become angry and say that I am just a stranger living in her room (I felt extremely hurt). Whenever she is angry, she would accuse me of stealing everything from her including our mom saying ‘why is a stranger doing this or that’, blames me for everything (how she sleeps on the mattress on the floor which she chose to etc) while demanding that I should listen to her because she was older. Every single time, I had to be the big person to ask for forgiveness or mend the relationship. My mom would always ask me to overlook whatever my sister did or try to be empathetic of her situation.

    After recovering from my collapsed health last year, I decided that it was enough so I moved into the living room. I started to set boundaries between my mom and sister. Yesterday, she slip me a note saying: ‘Dear sister, you should not watch porn. It is not good.’.  I did not understand why she wrote the note so I confronted her about it and she just said: porn is not good for you. I had nothing in my room that relates to porn nor do I have any on my laptop (just a number of self help books maybe book porn?????).

    I don’t really want to keep reacting to whatever my older sister does but it irritates me whenever she tries different things to stir up tension between us like the note about porn or how I shouldn’t touch anything in the room etc. It may sound petty, I still resent her for the things she did to me in the past till now (Interestingly, she doesn’t remember any of the things she did to me during that duration).  My therapist told me the best way for me to let go is to forgive but I am unable to do so since it pains me how she doesn’t know how much she had hurt me through out the years (how convenient it is for her to call me sister when I’m needed, a stranger when I’m not).

    What should I do?

    Lutie

    #386508
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lutie:

    In January 2019, more than 2.5 years ago, you shared that your mother “says mean things when she gets angry“, that you lashed out at your boyfriend at the time because you felt hurt, and that when you told your mother about the breakup from that boyfriend, “she raised her voice” at you.  Today, you shared that your older sister said mean things to you: “when we were younger, my sister would always bully me with mean comments (how ugly or stupid I was)“, that she screams at you sometimes, and that you received punishments, “cane, hanger or leather belt” from your father-

    – this is often the story of familial aggression: it passes on from Parent to Child, from Sibling to Sibling.. and then it passes on to the outside: against a boyfriend.. against peers at school, or receiving aggression from peers (“bullied at school”) and even from a teacher (“teacher would talk down on me”). This is the dynamic of aggression: it’s passed on and on.. and on until it is stopped, if it is.. and it should.

    * Jan 2019, you shared: “I grew up in a single parent household”- did your father beat you during visitations..?

    anita

     

    #386527
    Lutie
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for your reply. I am surprised that you reread the last post. I did not realize that I left out many details due to my emotional state at the time. My parents only officially divorce when I was 14, we never saw him again afterwards until the news of his death. My father started to beat me at the age of 7, he only stopped when I turned 12 (my memory is a bit fuzzy since I only recently started to remember things related to the abuse). When I was 10, he molested me during my sleep (which he tried a second time but was not successful since I have become wary of him) luckily I was able to escape after struggling through kicks and punches. I used to hide outside (rain or shine) until my siblings came home (my mom is rarely at home due to work). After sometime, I became suicidal, I started to harm myself. One day, as I climbed up the balcony rail to actually end my life, my youngest brother called out to me asking what I was doing. That’s when it hit me, how my death would affect my little bro so I decided to suppress all the emotions that I had including the memory of molest. The memories only started to resurfaced only a few years ago. I never understood why I was scared of boys (never dated until I met my ex) nor why I couldn’t form proper bonds with people around me. Unexpectedly the breakup help me open my eyes to the problems I never knew I had.

    What can I do to break free from this cycle of aggression?

    Lutie

    #386535
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lutie:

    After reading your recent post I went back and read again everything you wrote in your 2018 thread (I was wrong, it was Jan 2018, more than 3.5 years ago) and your posts in your current thread.

    In the original post of this thread, you wrote: “I used to look up to my older sister as the well rounded person who is intelligent, sociable, outgoing and brave“-  it seems to me, from having read all your posts, that it is you, Lutie (screen name), who is the well-rounded person who is intelligent, sociable, outgoing and brave, as well as kind and patient.

    You asked: “What can I do to break free from this cycle of aggression?

    As a Start, you will have to live elsewhere, away from your aggressive and abusive sister (or she will have to move out). Problem with the rest of your family is that they have endured and excused her aggression: “my family and I endured whatever she said or did because she was depressed“- she does not have the right to be aggressive toward others because she is depressed. (It doesn’t make sense to stand up to aggression only if the aggressor and abuser is happy!) Aggression and abuse should not be endured or excused.

    To stop your sister’s aggression and abuse, the rest of the family needs to be united in refusal to accept it. But your mother maintains the situation of your sister abusing you: “My mom would always ask me to overlook whatever my sister did or try to be empathetic of her situation”. Your mother is wrong: the victim of abuse must NOT overlook abuse and be empathetic to the abuser. When the abused feels empathy for the abuser- the abuse is maintained!

    Your sister believes, so it seems, that abusing others is okay when she is angry (“Whenever she is angry, she would accuse me.. blames me for everything..“)- abuse is not excused by anger. (Imagine that abuse is not  okay only if the abuser is calm!) Abuse is not okay no matter what the abuser feels!

    My therapist told me the best way for me to let go is to forgive but I am unable to do so since it pains me how she doesn’t know how much she had hurt me through out the years“- forgiving an abuser, just like feeling empathy for an abuser, is always a bad idea when you still live with the abuser and still abused by her.

    Imagine a deer feeling empathy for an approaching mountain lion, thinking something like: “oh, poor  mountain lion, he looks so hungry.. I must let it eat me!”  Imagine the mountain lion biting the deer, and the deer has a chance to escape, but doesn’t because it thinks something like: “I shouldn’t be angry at the mountain lion and run away, or fight him.  I should forgive him!”

    Empathy for and forgiving an abuser who did not change his/ her ways is bad advice. It is bad advice when your mother gives it to you, or a therapist!

    anita

    #386570
    Lutie
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I never thought the actions my mom and sister did was consider a form of abuse. My mom never laid one finger on us even though she’s a bit overbearing at times.

    At the moment, I don’t have the financial ability to move out (not working yet due to health). After moving to the living room, I minimize interaction with my sister (avoid unnecessary conflict), she would slip apology note underneath my door and asks me to move back to the room. I refused her by saying I need my own space, I decided to give up the room to you. I did try to mend the relationship but she ended up writing me another note (from previous post) that made zero sense. I feel that my older sister always wants to get a reaction out of me and my brothers through small subtle things like bumping into you while we cook/sit/cutting ingredients etc. I do not really understand her at times, maybe part of the problem is that I try to understand her.

    I spent most of my life hating my dad, upon the news of his death, I wasn’t able to shed any tears for him (I remember being accused of being cold hearted). Everyone in the family cried except me, my sister/ relatives looked at me as if I was a monster who has cold blood. Hating him made me realized one thing, I was not able to truly live my own life because I am unable to trust anyone, it was very difficult for me to open up to people.  I would like to forgive them for myself so that I could move on with my life without feeling bitter but I do understand abuse should not be overlooked.  I do empathize my sister since I  experience depression before.

    Since I will be staying home for a while, any advice on what I can do to better protect myself emotionally? Is minimizing interaction with my sister considered passive aggressive?

    Lutie

     

    #386576
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lutie:

    Is minimizing interaction with my sister considered passive aggressive?“- no: minimizing contact with an abusive person is a protective reaction.  It is not aggressive. You need to protect yourself from your sister’s direct aggression against you,  and from her indirect (passive-aggressive) aggression against you.

    Since I will be staying home for a while, any advice on what I can do to better protect myself emotionally?“-

    Minimize your interactions with your sister to the bare minimum, zero interaction will be best. Ignore her best you can. If she is nice to you (in an effort to no longer be ignored perhaps)- reward her niceness with a smile or a polite word, but that is all: do not become friends with her, don’t get closer to her.

    Politeness is the best I would hope from her, if I was in your shoes.

    If your mother tells you that you should stop ignoring your sister, that you should be nice to her, etc… because she is depressed, or because she (appears to be) trying to be nice to you.. or whatever she say:  do not listen to her. She already told you that you should accept or endure your sister’s abuse- so don’t avail yourself to more of her bad advice, suggestions or instructions!

    I spent most of my life hating my dad, upon the news of his death, I wasn’t able to shed any tears for him… Everyone in the family.. looked at me as if I was a monster who has cold blood“- he hit you with a cane, a hanger, a leather belt.. and maybe with his bare hands from the time you were 7 to 12, and he sexually molested you when you were 10, and then tried a second time. When your father, the cold blooded monster died, your family looked at you as.. “a monster who has cold blood”. That’s outrageous to me!

    I would like to forgive them for myself so that I could move on with my life without feeling bitter but I do understand abuse should not be overlooked“- do not accept or endure abuse.. once you are no longer abused, then forgive, best you can.

    I do empathize my sister since I  experience depression before“- empathize with her depression but not with her aggression. Empathize with your own feelings, whatever they are, and see to it that you don’t accept others’ aggression and that you are not aggressive toward others.

    Remember that protecting yourself from aggression, minimizing contact, is not aggressive behavior: it is a protective and wise reaction to another person’s aggression.

    anita

    #386625
    Lutie
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Thank you for your advice. I will try to avoid her from now on.

    I could really blame them for the cold stare since I never told my mom and siblings regarding the molestation. Only a few months ago, I open up to my mom and my youngest brother regarding the topic. My brother asked me why I never told him about it until now, why I kept everything to myself and suffered alone. While my mom tried to defend my dad by saying he was a good man, that he was a victim of abuse himself which turned him into a different person at times. Then she questioned whether I imagined the whole thing, if it did happen I should just forget about it and move on since his not around anymore (why blame a deceased person). I was quite shock when she said that to me (although she did try to comfort me), I only wanted to hear her say that it wasn’t my fault. I felt even worse when she blames herself for being the breadwinner of the house, how it was all her fault for trying to raise a family etc (I felt she was guilt tripping me to stop the conversation which it worked). I never blamed her for anything in my life (I do blame her for siding with my sister more, and myself ), since she was abused by dad and his side of the family (when they were living in the same house).

    Today my sister just said ‘sorry’ then walked away (what she always does), I pointed out to her that it was not a proper apology without changed behavior, she would frown then ignore me by walking away. I overheard her complain to mom what she did wrong, why I could not forgive her even after she said sorry, which she continue to say how resentful I was for not being able to give another chance to her and that she could not see what she did wrong (Yep, they were talking next to the living room how can I not hear anything).

    I wonder why people who hurt another never seem to retain any memories of the incident yet the victims delve in the memories of the hurt (a book explained how the brain is more likely to store memories associated with strong emotions due to the adrenaline hormones being release during the experience).

    Do you think it would help her understand about how I feel by telling her about what she did in the past till now? (I know this is fruitless, but I feel like telling her so that I could let go of the idea of changing/understanding her)

    Lutie

     

    #386632
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lutie:

    You are welcome. You wrote regarding your family looking at you as if you were “a monster with cold blood” when you didn’t shed tears about your father’s death: “I could really blame them for the cold stare since I never told my mom and siblings regarding the molestation“- but they knew about the beating that your father inflicted on you.. and him beating you was a a big enough reason to explain why you weren’t sad when he died, and why you were angry at him.

    When you told your mother about your father having sexually molested you, she reacted this way: “my mom tried to defend my dad by saying he was a good man, that he was a victim of abuse himself which turned him into a different person at times. Then she questioned whether I imagined the whole thing, if it did happen I should just forget about it and move on since his not around anymore (why blame a deceased person)“- you have a bigger problem than an aggressive sister: your mother. She defends abusers (your physically and sexually abusive father, and your aggressive sister), she is on their side. This is very, very sad.

    You wrote regarding your mother: “I do blame her for siding with my sister more“- I blame her too: she should never side with an abuser/ aggressor!

    Today my sister just said ‘sorry’ then walked away (what she always does), I pointed out to her that it was not a proper apology without changed behavior“- you are correct. It is very easy to say “sorry”. It takes a second and no effort. She says the word for a dishonestly manipulative purpose: to make it (falsely) appear that she is the good/ humble/ kind one and you are the bad/unforgiving/unkind one.

    I wonder why people who hurt another never seem to retain any memories of the incident“- they say they don’t remember.. it doesn’t mean that they don’t remember.

    Do you think it would help her understand about how I feel by telling her about what she did in the past till now? (I know this is fruitless, but I feel like telling her so that I could let go of the idea of changing/understanding her)“- I don’t think that she is interested in you helping her to understand you, I don’t think she cares to understand you. But you can try and find out. If you do, let me know what you told her and how she reacted, will you?

    anita

    #387334
    anita
    Participant

    How are you, Lutie?

    anita

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