Hello, My name is Ja`Ree and I am a mental health counselor. It truly does sound as if you are in a lot of emotional pain from all of this and as though your family does not understand. It also sounds as though you have tried to be understanding of the rest of your family's feelings and state your needs and feelings in a respectful manner. However, it does not sound as though the family wants to try to understand, instead they just want it all to go away.
it is understandable that your parents would like for all their children to get along, however, this is not always possible. I would like to talk with you more about this and how you might be able to do what is best for you and be comfortable with that. I would like to ask you a couple of questions to enable me to give you the best answer if you don't mind. Are you married? Do you have any family members that really understand where you are coming from with this relationship with your sister? Do you have friends who you can count on to be supportive of you and your feelings? Family relationship issues are often the most painful to deal with because of the feelings of needing to belong, and fear of rejection from the people we should be able to depend on for their love and acceptance more than anywhere else. If you would like to talk with me about this more please reply to my message and I will respond as soon as I see your reply. Thank you for contacting Just Answer. Ja`Ree
Hi Ja `Ree, Thank you for your reply. To answer your questions I am not married but I do have a very loving and supportive partner of four years whom I live with, he is really the only person I confide in about serious / personal things. I don't really have any family members that understand where I am coming from with this relationship with my sister; my other sister has been quite strange about it. Initially she told me she would support me and I could talk to her, but on the few occasions I tried to she would shut me down with a "I'm not taking sides" lecture, and then make a point of telling me how hurt Michaela is about it all - which makes me feel like Michaela has been allowed to speak freely about our relationship, but I have not. I think that's part of why this has been so difficult - everyone acknowledges that Michaela's behaviour has often been terrible, they have all acknowledged that she regularly tells quite outrageous lies and is very manipulative, but because it was me that severed ties with her I seem to be seen as the trouble maker in some ways. My parents claim to understand the issues but it's becoming evident that they don't. I do have friends but not close enough to speak to about this kind of situation. You are definitely right about family issues being the most painful! Growing up I always felt very loved by my parents and always thought of them as so selfless - working so hard and always putting the needs of their children first, so I was quite surprised to get some of the responses I have from them - initially they were supportive of me not seeing my sister, but as time passed they grew more and more insistent that I was 'letting her win' by staying away and that I needed to face my fears instead of running from them. I can understand their point, but I don't really see it as running away from my fears, but rather avoiding a situation I know will be completely uncomfortable and upsetting for me.
I am reading you reply. will be rigt with you
You are absolutely right about your chose to not be a part of her life. It is not healthy to let people who want to destroy us stay in our life. It would be different if she had apologized and behaved differently now. However, to put yourself where she can do and say things that only wound you more is no different than letting someone in your life that would;d physically abuse you. Does that make sense?
It does not sound as though you are going to be able to change how your parents and other sister are going to address the issue. Therefore, what needs to happen is for you to find the best way to deal with the situation in a manner that brings you as little pain as possible. This is not going to be easy and will certainly be painful, however it sounds as though you cannot continue to live with things the way they are.
I know you say you have been in counseling before, did it help? In situations like this it sometimes takes extended counseling on a regular basis to enable a person to develop the skills and knowledge needed to heal from the emotional wounds, let go of the past so they are no longer a victim to the one who is hurting them, set boundaries with the people who are hurting them and not trying to be supportive with them, and develop a relationship with these people that is based on respect and boundaries. It also takes time to learn to allow friends and other loved ones to become our family and give us the love and support we need enabling us to maintain the kind of relationship with our biological family that does not bring us emotional harm.
This is a long a painful process, however, you deserve the love and support you need and do not deserve to be disrespected by people making you feel you are in the wrong. Do you think you would be willing to try to find a counselor that you can connect with enough to allow them to give you the support and encouragement you need while he/she works with you on skill development like self esteem, assertiveness, Cognitive Behavior Therapy to enable you to build the kind of life you deserve? I will wait for your reply and will respond as soon as I read your reply. I will be online until 12:45 PM EST. I will then be back online around 6:00 PM EST.
Hi Ja`Ree, Sorry to miss you - I am in Australia so we've got quite a time difference on our hands. Counselling did help for a while; my counsellor directed me to a number of resources to I used to educate myself about narcissism and I was able to 'let go' of feeling responsible for my troubled relationship with my sister and better understand how she was able to be so abusive. My counsellor terminated the counselling after about 6 weeks - I was feeling better and my panic attacks had stopped, my parents were being very supportive at the time and there was no pressure to 'fight for my place in the family' then so it felt like there was nothing more to talk about. Unfortunately things have obviously changed but I can't afford to go back to counselling right now, here it can cost $100 - $300 per hour and I am currently in between jobs. I have been doing a lot of internet research in the mean time to find some practical strategies for navigating this difficult situation until I do find another job and can return to counselling, but I haven't found any resources that seem specific to this sort of situation. I have previously tried telling my parents that I need a break from the family to clear my head, but they wouldn't accept this - my Mother had an angry outburst (I think she feels guilty for not protecting me from my sister) and I ended up with no break and feeling guilty for even suggesting it, so I'm at a real loss for what to do next.
Good morning, While you are in between jobs I will do some research over the next couple of days to see if I can find some resources and material that may help you with the situation. May I ask why your angry outburst kept you from taking the break you needed? Was it because you were afraid they would close you out of the family completely? What do you think of writing letters to each person involved (not to send) just to help you release all of the feelings. I often have my client's start with the letters to get the feelings out until they feel they are able to deal with the situation in an assertive manner. Another recommendation I make to my client's is to journal. When we write more feelings come out than when we talk. Often my client's are surprised by their writings because they write about feelings they do not even know that have. How do you feel about the writing while I look for some resources for you? I will be on this evening from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM EST and will look for your reply. I will respond as soon as I see your reply. If you are able to be online at that time (I understand the time difference) maybe we could chat. Thank you for contacting Just Answer. Ja`Ree
Hi Ja`Ree - please understand it wasn't 'my' angry outburst - it was my Mother's - on telling her I needed a break from the family she became quite aggressive and told me I was being selfish.
I knew it was your mother's angry outburst. My question to you is why did her angry outburst cause you to follow through with doing what you felt was best for you? Were you afraid that she would tell you that if you took the break you couldn't come back? I am looking for some sources for you. Will post again later and maybe if you are on we can chat. Ja`Ree
That's a good question. I guess I am just fearful of upsetting my parents - my Mum especially as she's had a very hard life. She was sexually abused as a child, a victim of domestic violence in her first marriage and her relationship with my Mother in law was not unlike the relationship I have with my sister. She was always very over protective and 'clingy' with me and if - I guess I felt I'd be hurting her if I took the break and it might be difficult to 'come back from'
I can understand that. I really feel that you need some regular sessions with a counselor in person to help you with developing the skills you need to set boundaries without feeling guilty. However, I understand that this is not possible at this time. Therefore, I wonder if you would consider reading a book titled The Assertive Woman by Stanlee Phelps and Nancy Austin ( you can purchase it on Amazon. com) and journal your feelings, as well as write a letter to your mom. I do not want you to mail the letter, just write it and hang on to it until yo finish the book. If you will do this then I would like to check back in with you in two weeks to see where you are with things. Until you are able to find employment and get the personal help you need do you think you can do this? If so then please complete rating survey so that I can be paid and provide the best service I can to our customers. Thank you for contacting Just Answer. Ja`Ree
Thanks for those recommendations Ja`Ree, I can definitely move forward with the journaling, letter writing and reading the book you mentioned. Thank you for your help.