This post is about me and my sister.
In my session last night, I read my blog about the dysfunctional relationship with my sister and what I had figured out at the weekend. I read the blog easily until the end where I read about the nice memories I have with her when we were younger and then I felt a lump in my throat.
I told T “it is such a shame” and then began to cry a little. T agreed that it was a huge shame and that my mother had caused this dynamic, not me. I said I knew that but that I felt so sorry for my sister. In my head when I said those words, my sister was no longer 22, but about 6. God the pain I felt in that moment. The shame, the guilt, the sadness. It was horrible.
I said to T “I should have helped her, I was so horrible to her, she must have felt so alone” and then I just broke down in floods of tears. I cried from the bottom of my heart in that moment. I felt ashamed of myself and felt such a loss of what cannot be repaired.
T, rather passionately, said to me that none of this was my fault. She said that I couldn’t have known, that I was caught up in this dysfunction and that I had no way of understanding any of this myself. She spoke rather urgently so I gather she understood how much shame and sorrow I was feeling. Nothing she said really took the pain away.
I said to T “She hates me. She has always really hated me and I didn’t even realise!!”. T said it wasn’t that she hated me but that it was misdirected anger towards my mother.
T said she imagined I just wanted to read that blog to my sister and to make her understand. I said I absolutely did but that it was pointless because my sister wouldn’t believe it or understand some of it. T said that she wouldn’t be able to yet. T suggested that one day my sister may realise the dysfunctional dynamic just like I had done, but I told her I wasn’t hopeful. I said that my sister had finally gained what she thinks is my mother’s love and that she wouldn’t be wanting anything else. T said she may realise when she starts to feel how toxic and fake it is, that she doesn’t get fulfilled in the way she may think she will. I appreciate what T was saying, but I don’t agree. I told T “I wish I was as optimistic as you“.
I said to T that it all felt so hopeless. It feels too late for me and my sister. I said that I have always felt so protective over her but that she won’t feel that at all and that hurts. It is so sad that my mother has taught us that the three of us can’t all be getting along at the same time. Someone is always the bad guy. Drama/Relationship Triangle stuff. There are 3 positions in the triangle, Victim, Rescuer and Prosecutor and my God, how true that is for my family.
Right now my mother is the Victim, my sister the Rescuer and me – the horrible persecutor and its painful because all I can do, all I have the power to do, is to remove myself from the triangle. And that means leaving my sister there to play out her role(s).
I told T that I have felt such resistance and anger at my sister the last year or so but that now, I felt so much pain for her and pain for my own loss of having a healthy relationship with my sister. As I said to T, things could have been so different. Something I find myself writing and saying more and more these days.
“I can’t save her”.
“No, you can’t”
I said to T that I had seen a photo of me and my sister a few days ago taken on Christmas Day in about 2013. The photo is of me and my sister stroking the family dog wearing matching onesies. I said to her that you can’t even see our faces in the photo, but that I loved the photo. I told her I would love nothing more than to have a healthy relationship with her. We could be close. We could be best friends.. but the reality right now is that we can’t – that isn’t possible.
T suggested I text my sister and said something like “I hope you had a nice holiday. I have been thinking of you”. I was surprised she suggested that and was slightly taken aback. I said I could, but that my sister is so argumentative and aggressive nowadays (since she’s become Golden Child) that it wouldn’t get me anywhere. I said I knew that my sister would reply to say “Well you upset me when you said X, Y, Z and you were so horrible to mum and mum is so upset” etc… and that would just annoy me. T said I could do without that drama right now on top of everything else. I agreed.
T said that if I was able to speak to my sister, I would need to tell her that our relationship was separate to the relationship with our mother. That we should be able to have a relationship regardless of whether I am speaking to my mother or not and vice-versa. She said I would need to put in some strong boundaries that we did not discuss things my mother has been saying – that she didn’t tell me anything at all. I agreed but said to T that as ridiculous as it is, there is a part of me that wondered what we would speak about if it wasn’t our childhood or our mother. That is all we’ve ever really done!
T said we could still talk about our childhood but that we just don’t talk about things my mother is doing or saying now. That I would have to tell my sister not to repeat anything we spoke about, anything I am doing etc. I said I doubted my sister would want to do that because she wouldn’t want to risk her newly promoted place as Golden Child.
T suggested that I sat on this for a while and thought about it. She said I would figure out what I needed to do when the time was right.
I said to T that when I got engaged in August, I was so disappointed with her reaction (or lack of more accurately). T said that she was too envious to be happy for me. I said I got that now but why? T said that there may be an element that I have escaped whilst my sister is still there, still stuck in the dynamic. I said but he doesn’t need to be! She could escape it herself. I said to T, I had imagined when I was planning my wedding that my sister would be really involved. That she would be helping with the plans, planning the hen do and coming shopping for bridesmaid dresses! I wanted her to be the chief bridesmaid and I guess now, upon reflection, this was me saying “look how much I love you!“. Stupidly I thought she knew that, but since discovering the childhood dynamic stuff, I guess she had too much displaced anger for me to feel that love plus the additional anger that I could have “saved her” and chose not to. If only it were that easy.
I said to T that despite all of this, and that I felt stupid for even admitting this, there was a part of me that would feel really guilty if I reached out and contacted my sister whist I wasn’t speaking to my mother. I said I knew that was insane. T said I needed to feel and speak about those feelings and that we could keep talking about them. That I didn’t need to act on them. I nodded.
I told T, my sister is totally unable to move forward with me and that she keeps on going on about how out-of-order I was for not missing a counselling session when she wanted me to. T said it isn’t really about that, that is just my sister’s excuse. It is much, much deeper than that. I said I knew that now, but that my sister didn’t and so how do we get past that?
Eugh. What a mess.