Hi. I am hoping you will be able to advise me of the best way forward with a difficult family situation. I believe my elder sister (Michelle) has Narcissistic Personality Disorder; I endured 20 years of abuse from her and two years ago I decided to cut my losses and do 'no contact'.
I received some counselling and explained the situation to my parents and my other elder sister who at the time were reasonably supportive and understanding of the fact that I didn't want to be around Michaela. That support was fleeting however and I am now regularly told that I should be 'fighting for my place in the family', not allowing Michaela to push me out and reminded of how awkward and unpleasant my decision to go 'no contact' with my sister has made life for the rest of my family. Whenever a family birthday or Christmas is approaching my parents tell me how disappointed they will be if I'm not at the special event - that I should attend, act happy and confident, as though I am unaffected by Michaela - they acknowledge this will be difficult for me but insist that if I just keep forcing myself to do it, it will eventually stop being upsetting. I have tried this approach a few times now but it's horrible. In the lead up to the events I feel terribly anxious and sick, on the day I'm able to play the part but it's horrible - Michaela keeps her distance at the events but will still glare at me when she feels no one is looking and her husband - I'm assuming in an attempt to get on her good side, will often make me focus of relentless 'jokes' where my personality and life are mercilessly picked over and held up for everyone's amusement but 'all in good fun' - if I challenge anything that is said I'm told to lighten up. While I can usually make it through these events, I end up having a melt down shortly after - sometimes breaking into tears as soon as Michaela and her husband leave. My parents / other sister see this as attention seeking instead of the stress
response it is and it is always met with a patronising "you can't expect us to take sides" lecture. I know my parents and my other sister are in an impossible position and I have never asked them to take sides; I've only ever asked them to try and understand why it's difficult for me to be in Michaela's company and why I might choose to avoid events she attends. Given this constant pressure to be in Michaela's presence and the lack of understanding of my emotional fall out when I do, I'm feeling increasingly resentful of my family and am beginning to feel that they don't have my best interests at heart. It's becoming very difficult to be around them - for the past ten years I have always visited my parents on Sunday evenings and before I cut contact with Michaela our paths never crossed there - but since going no contact with MichaelaI am often arriving at my parents house on Sunday evenings to find Michaela is already there. Feeling as I do, I tend to just turn around and come home - but this upsets my parents who want to know why I don't just wait around the corner in my car until she goes home, or why I don't just go into the house with them and 'act normal' - while I understand my parents can't take sides, given they claim to understand my feelings and have even witnessed Michaela's nasty behaviour first hand, I can't help but feel offended that they expect me to wait in my car for Michaela to leave rather than assert that Sunday evening isn't a convenient time for her to visit. In addition to this, Michaela's husband also works for my Father's small business and they spend a great deal of time together - on the occasions my Sunday visit with my parents does go ahead as planned I am often met with funny or interesting stories about Michaela's husband or funny anecdotes about what Michaela's children have been doing - which I find really troubling - on one hand because I am deeply sad
about not having a relationship with my neice and nephews but perhaps more so because these stories really make me feel 'on the outer' with my family. I am really starting to feel a 'just get over it' sentiment in my family which is really hurtful and with all of this, I feel like life might actually be better if I just didn't see any of them anymore. I would really appreciate your advice - are my parents right? If I just keep forcing myself to endure the company of my sister and her husband, will I eventually reach a point where it's just not upsetting anymore? Or would it be more healthy to follow my instincts and just avoid seeing my family from here on in?