jojo01

Strained Sibling Relationship

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9 hours ago, jojo01 said:

Help! What would you do if you were in my shoes? I did send her an email a few years back and tried to have her see my side. Everytime she has another outburst, it affects me emotionally and it takes me a few days to recover. This is not healthy for me.

I would apologize for making a video with her daughter without asking her, and making it public.  I would take the video down, especially if the daughter is a minor.  Like, immediately.

I would then apologize for getting all snippy in the group chat.  I would apologize to her IN the group chat, in front of everybody.

I would then finally, after all these years apparently, internalize the truth that she is the way she is, and when I intentionally do something that pokes the bear, I have absolutely no right to act all surprised and hurt when the bear acts like a bear.  

I would conclude by finding ways to charitably love my sister.

Thanks for asking, welcome to the forum.

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10 hours ago, jojo01 said:

Her husband even brags that he will be a general authority one day.

I hope this is not true. If so, that's messed up.

I agree with NT's reply. In most cases, posting a mocking picture or video of someone else or someone else's children without permission is definitely wrong and possibly illegal. You should simply remove the vid and come clean with a sincere private apology. You should follow that up with a public apology on the message board or FB or group email or whatever it was where you said "Haters gonna hate" and admit that you were wrong to dismiss their complaint like that. Make it sincere; don't nitpick that THEY shouldn't have aired the dirty laundry publicly and that you were only responding to that act. True, they shouldn't have, but your purpose should not be to establish their guilt and your victimhood. Your purpose should be to apologize for what you did that you should not have done. Posting a mocking video of your niece without getting their okay first was wrong.

As for your sister's treatment of you generally. I have two comments: (1) You cannot control your sister or your brother-in-law. You can only control yourself. So if you're looking to modify their behavior before you feel good, you will never feel good. (2) What you say does sound pretty bad, but anyone with experience knows that you rarely get an accurate picture of a situation listening to only one speaker or side. I will note that you are the one who cut contact, not her. As a general rule, cutting off contact with your closest loved ones because your nose is out of joint is bad policy and a sign of immaturity. Your children and hers are cousins—double cousins—and their sociality should generally be encouraged, not restricted.

You and your sister, maybe along with your husband and his brother, need to have a frank (and loving) sit-down together and talk through some of these issues. Maybe that can't happen right now. But you can do the right thing, apologize for your part in the misunderstanding, and seek to build bridges rather than walls.

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First, welcome to the forum. I'm sorry you're dealing with this. The fact that you are reaching out is a good sign. Aside from the above suggestions, my random thoughts - 

Post the following on your mirrors and repeat them to yourself as often as needed:

- let bygones be bygones

- take the high road

- act above it

(there are more, but you get the idea)

Other things to consider:

- I wonder if there's some jealousy on her part (this doesn't excuse anything but may explain something)

- Is it possible that she has misinterpreted/misunderstood something and is harboring grudges, etc (even from years ago). Think back and set aside your feelings and apologize if you now see where you may have been in the wrong 

- Have you tried seeing things from her perspective?

Solutions:

- serve her!!! (even anonymously at first if needed)

- try to understand her (what's her love language? - find out and start speaking it!!)

- find common ground and stay away from triggers

- words matter so stop with the "difficult relationship" "she's bossy", etc and focus on what you want, not what you don't (ie what you feed, grows)

That's what has come to mind but I'll pop in again if I think of something else but I hope this helps. This can turn around!!!

 

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3 hours ago, NeuroTypical said:

I would apologize for making a video with her daughter without asking her, and making it public.  I would take the video down, especially if the daughter is a minor.  Like, immediately.

I would then apologize for getting all snippy in the group chat.  I would apologize to her IN the group chat, in front of everybody.

I would then finally, after all these years apparently, internalize the truth that she is the way she is, and when I intentionally do something that pokes the bear, I have absolutely no right to act all surprised and hurt when the bear acts like a bear.  

I would conclude by finding ways to charitably love my sister.

Thanks for asking, welcome to the forum.

Just an fyi, the video was only shared with my parents and siblings. My sister has made multiple videos of my kids and shared them as well, without asking. My kids are under the age of 5. I also only shared the video because my niece was laughing at herself. I was never mocking her but laughing with her.  When I dropped my niece home, she told me that she had fun.

The funny thing is that my sister has always said that her daughter doesn't easily get offended. On a family vacation, my sister embarrassed her daughter in front of extended family for wanting another cookie. So, I feel that she can't say that I embarrassed her daughter in front of everyone when she does so herself.

The problem with apologizing to my sister though, is that she will continue to see herself as a victim and overreact. She will continue to make it seems like others are evil. She has had conflicts with my in-laws, her bestfriend and even my parents because of how she overreacts. Her husband often knows that she is wrong but will choose to get angry at others and step in, to prove to her that he is loyal to her.

I don't know if the analogy of poking the bear is even applicable, because I honestly didn't expect this overreaction. My parents were surprised by it too. Also, last year I stopped talking to her because she asked me to give her daughter a ride. When I showed up, her daughter was already gone. I sent her a text message saying "I would appreciate it if you let me know next time when there is a change of plan". I have no idea what she said to her husband, because he sent me a lot of ugly messages basically saying that I owed them because they helped my husband get a new job. Never once did they apologize even when my husband finally stepped in to help them realize that they were wrong.

Edited by jojo01

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2 hours ago, Vort said:

you rarely get an accurate picture of a situation listening to only one speaker or side.

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I do agree that there is always two sides to the story. I wish I understood why she insist on behaving this way, because if anything it makes people run the other way and not want to have a close relationship with her. I have confronted my sister regarding some of her outbursts a few years back, she did mention that because of a falling out with her mother-in-law while they were unemployed, that she doesn't let people walk over her. Anyways, thanks again for your response!

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I have a sister that is pretty accurately compared to a porcupine: she's very warm and cuddly when approached from one side but the other sides... not so much.  She'll try to bully family members, and have outbursts and generally reminds me of your description.  

I've learned that she does this because she is inwardly very insecure of herself.  Her behavior is a poor coping mechanism for that insecurity and always flares up the most then.   As for dealing with her, I've learned that I can't fix her, need to have thick skin, let her sins be between her and Christ and skip the drama.  Sometimes this involves me just ignoring her behavior.  Sometimes I walk away from her bullying (politely of course).  Retaliating or smarty-pants responses never gets anywhere-- I believe the expression is "when you play with pigs, you just get muddy and the pig is always happy".  

Edited by Jane_Doe

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14 hours ago, jojo01 said:

Our relationship is "fine" as long as I let her treat me like a doormat. 

You need to put your foot down or get used to having constant drama in your life. 

Once you make it known what you will and won't accept, your life becomes much easier. It'll hurt at first, but in the long run you'll be much more at peace. There is something incredibly liberating about cutting out a negative/toxic person in your life, because you take control back.

In some ways it gets even more fun/comforting when you realize they keep talking about you-it shows that they can't get over what you can. 

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5 hours ago, Manners Matter said:

I wonder if there's some jealousy on her part (this doesn't excuse anything but may explain something)

- Is it possible that she has misinterpreted/misunderstood something and is harboring grudges, etc

Thank you for taking the time to respond in such a kind way!! I do believe that there is some jealousy on her part. My sister likes to compare herself with others. She has told me in an irritated manner of the compliments that people have made behind my back. Our family is also financially more successful than hers even with both of them working.

I don't understand why she feels the need to feel jealous since she has many qualities that I don't have. E.g she is very eloquent and give some great talks. She's an extrovert and make friends easily. I am an introvert, take time to warm up to people before making friends. I have forgiven her a lot over the years over some of the way she has mistreated me, but at some point I feel tired of being treated like a child.

It is very likely that she harbors grudges over the fact that I have called her out a few times. When I sent the message "haters gonna be haters", I was trying to help my sister and brother-in-law understand that I know that they are reacting this way because of previous incidents where they got upset at me. If it was anyone else who had made the video, I know that they wouldn't have reacted this way.

I will definitely go to the temple and ask my heavenly father for forgiveness for not handling the matter in the most christlike way. Overtime, my hope is that she will see that her relationship with others is more important than overreacting and making herself the victim. Thank you again!

Edited by jojo01

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6 hours ago, Jane_Doe said:

when you play with pigs, you just get muddy and the pig is always happy

Thank you for sharing your experience. I am sorry that you've had similar experience with your sister but also glad to find someone that understands. You are definitely right by saying that it is due to insecurity. My sister doesn't talk to herself kindly, criticize others and generally compare herself with others. When I made the comment "haters gonna be haters", I was trying to make the point that I know you are overreacting due to issues we've had in the past (perhaps a grudge you hold). Thank you for reminding me about the quote "Never wrestle with the pig...". I definitely need to work on "be quick to agree with thine enemy" and even stop reacting but acting.

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The only advice I feel I can offer is to treat her the same way you would treat someone else in the ward who treated you this way.  It can be difficult, but set aside the sister aspect of the relationship, and try to vent about her treatment to those who can't be sucked in to picking sides.  (Welcome to the forum.)

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Guest Mores
19 hours ago, jojo01 said:

The problem with apologizing to my sister though, is that she will continue to see herself as a victim and overreact. She will continue to make it seems like others are evil. She has had conflicts with my in-laws, her bestfriend and even my parents because of how she overreacts. Her husband often knows that she is wrong but will choose to get angry at others and step in, to prove to her that he is loyal to her

Jojo,

Forgive me if my ears perked up at this.  But your description of your sister's behavior made me think "THIS IS NOT NORMAL!"  I'm not a psychologist or analyst or anything like that.  So take this at face value -- an anonymous internet person who knows nothing of your real life. 

Have you considered the fact that she has been hurt in the past?  She possibly behaves this way to make up for the hurt she's had.  The twisted part of it is that people will often hurt those whom they want to protect.

  • You're the baby sister.  She wants to protect you, because she needs to, but can't.
  • You're the baby sister -- ergo, weak.  She wants to hurt you, because she can.

It's hard for a sane person to understand that these two mentalities can coexist in someone's mind.  But sometimes, they do.  She has allowed her pain to define her.  This is not something that can be undone by a single person (you) with only limited access to her psyche.  You may feel more compassion for her for having turned out as well as she has despite this suffering.

The description you give is that of a bully.  And bullies have often been bullied in the past.  And she's doing everything she can to make sure no one ever bullies her again.  And that is something to be pitied, more than despised.  It is she who is going to be left alone and without friends.  That's sad.

Take solace in the (apparently) good relationship you have with your husband and your children.  Don't let her actions define you or what you do.  Treat her like a storm.  Some people live in Florida and deal with hurricanes all the time.  They feel it's just part of living there and deal with it as it comes.  Other people choose not to live there because of the hurricanes so they don't have to deal with it.  You've got to decide which is best for you and your family.

Edited by Mores

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18 hours ago, jojo01 said:

I will definitely go to the temple and ask my heavenly father for forgiveness for not handling the matter in the most christlike way. Overtime, my hope is that she will see that her relationship with others is more important than overreacting and making herself the victim. Thank you again!

Maybe think about this before you head back to the house of the Lord

Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?

 

18 hours ago, jojo01 said:

It is very likely that she harbors grudges over the fact that I have called her out a few times. When I sent the message "haters gonna be haters", I was trying to help my sister and brother-in-law understand that I know that they are reacting this way because of previous incidents where they got upset at me. If it was anyone else who had made the video, I know that they wouldn't have reacted this way.

haters gonna hate? how old are you 15? how does that statement make anyone see things your way or prove any sort of point other than being childish.

Look this is a difficult situation but it sounds like neither one of you are acting like an adult here. 

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21 hours ago, MormonGator said:

There is something incredibly liberating about cutting out a negative/toxic person in your life, because you take control back.

Thank you for taking the time to read and give your input. I agree that it is liberating to cut out a toxic person. I have felt happier doing so and focus on other things. The hard thing though is that I don't want to be that person who hasn't spoken to her sister for 10+ years. I've tried putting my foot down and explain that her behavior is unacceptable. Her response was "I feel that I have to walk on egg shells around you". I didn't say anything but I felt like I have to wear a bullet proof vest around her, especially when she has an outburst and unleash her anger and frustration on others. Thank you again for responding!

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14 hours ago, seashmore said:

The only advice I feel I can offer is to treat her the same way you would treat someone else in the ward who treated you this way.  It can be difficult, but set aside the sister aspect of the relationship, and try to vent about her treatment to those who can't be sucked in to picking sides.  (Welcome to the forum.)

Great idea! I've been thinking about writing these issues in my journal, in hope that I can get more clarity and let go of some of the hurt that I feel each time she overreacts. I will need to ponder on how to handle this situation if it was someone in the ward that reacted this way. When dealing with difficult people in church callings, I always focus on magnifying my calling and not getting suck into negativity. 

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28 minutes ago, omegaseamaster75 said:

Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?

Last year, during my temple recommend interview I briefly talked about my sister's relationship with the Stake president. He was definitely in tune with the spirit because he brought it up himself, after asking the question. He said "how is your relationship with your sister?." I responded honestly.He said this is a tricky question as long as there is no sexual, physical or emotional abuse he doesn't see the reason to refuse giving me my recommend. He advised me not to get discourage as things will get better as you get older.

You may be right that it wasn't my finest moment to dismiss her criticism with "haters gonna hate" but I was irritated that she was airing the dirty laundry.  My parents certainly didn't need to witness all that negativity. You may be right that no one is acting like an adult here, but what would you do? I've stayed quiet and ignored some outbursts in the past to maintain the relationship. I've also spoken against it and things haven't changed.

Edited by jojo01

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1 minute ago, jojo01 said:

Last year, during my temple recommend interview I briefly talked about my sister's relationship with the Stake president. He was definitely in tune with the spirit because he brought it up himself, after asking the question. He said "how is your relationship with your sister?." I responded honestly.He said this is a tricky question as long as there is no sexual, physical or emotional abuse he doesn't see the reason to refuse giving you your recommend, but don't get discourage. Things will get better as you get older.

You may be right that it wasn't my finest moment to dismiss her criticism with "haters gonna hate" but I was irritated that she was airing the dirty laundry.  My parents certainly didn't need to witness all that negativity. You may be right that no one is acting like an adult here, but what would you do? I've stayed quiet and ignored some outbursts in the past to maintain the relationship. I've also spoken against it and things haven't changed.

Boundaries need to be set. She clearly thinks she can have an outburst and get a rise out of you. My advice, assuming you start talking again is the next time she says something offensive or negative towards you leave. Go home immediately don't respond. if she is in your home ask her to leave. Don't discuss it. A few episodes of you leaving or her getting kicked out she will get it and change her behavior or never come around either way problem solved.

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1 minute ago, jojo01 said:

You may be right that it wasn't my finest moment to dismiss her criticism with "haters gonna hate" but I was irritated that she was airing the dirty laundry.  My parents certainly didn't need to witness all that negativity. You may be right that no one is acting like an adult here, but what would you do?

There are a variety of responses.  And I can't know your complete past history.  But here's an example of something I did when someone felt hurt and decided to take it out on me.

I was talking to a friend who wanted to take his girl of choice out on a date and wondered if we could do a double date.  So, I called up a girl (Mary) who I was good friends with.  We both had friend-zoned each other.  So, it was not romantic at all.  I asked her if she wanted to go out.  She immediately started yelling at me.

Remember, I was good friends with her.  She had never yelled at me before about ANYthing.  But there she was for tearing me apart for doing absolutely nothing.

I asked her, "Mary? ... why exactly are you yelling at me?  This is Mores, your friend, remember me?"

She stopped and took a breath and immediately apologized.  She told me she had been working through a lot of stuff recently.  I talked in calm tones and we arranged for the date.

As I picked her up, I broke the subject about what set her in such a mood.  It turned out that she was in a turbulent period in her relationship with her boyfriend.  And to have another boy ask her out on a date was NOT good timing.  There was a reason why it was not a good thing that she was simply going out with someone else.  But when I reminded her that we're not romantically involved, and that we'd be going out as friends, she felt a lot better.

Sometimes, people attack you, not because of what you did.  They attack you because of really bad timing.  In your sister's case, it isn't just timing.  She has created an image of you in her mind that you're the punching bag.  Whatever frustration she feels, she takes it out on you for the slightest thing.  Such a dynamic takes a lot of effort to cure.

But a starting point might be to ask her as calmly as possible, "Is there something else that's bothering you that caused this to trigger you?  You've done this to others and no one reacted badly to you.  So, I'm guessing that the real cause of your anger is something else."  Remember not to do this as a debate tactic.  You're doing this to re-focus her on the real culprit.

Depending on the response to that, you'll have a clue as to just how far gone she is.  I really hope for the best.  But as others said before, the worst thing to do is to get down in the mud with her.

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6 hours ago, Mores said:

Have you considered the fact that she has been hurt in the past?

I love both of your responses. It definitely made me stop and think. Thank you taking the time to give your input as well! My sister has been deeply hurt by our mother-in-law (we are married to two brothers). Right before the 2008 recession, she and her husband moved to Florida with a baby and stayed with the in-laws. It took a long time for her husband to find a job and in the meantime, our mother-in-law was unhappy about how she was parenting her child, not helping out around the house...etc. I don't know the full story but our mother-in-law has said some very hurtful things to her. She told me that she hit rock bottom then. I have confronted my sister about her anger and how she reacts at times, in the past. She did say that she feels revolted each time an issue occurs because of the series of issues she had with her mother-in-law. My parents also know that she overreacts and have described her as emotionally unstable.

Fortunately I do have a good relationship with my husband and children. I am grateful that my husband has the spirit of discernment and can see when any party is wrong. He tells me when I'm wrong or when his brother is wrong. I will take solace in that. Sadly, she also has those type of outbursts/ overreaction with her husband, sometimes in front of extended family but they quickly move to a different room or outside to continue fighting. My brother-in-law is afraid that she will leave him so he always end up apologizing even when he is not wrong or hasn't done anything wrong. So when she has an outburst with other family members (me, sister-in-law, parents, friends, or mother-in-law again..you name it), her husband quickly side with her. I have called him out on it and told him: "You are crippling my sister and her relationship with others. It is sad to see when you have the chance to stand for what is right, you will not if it means that you are telling her that her behavior is wrong."

Figuratively speaking, I would rather not live in Florida and deal with hurricanes. (I actually live in a southern state with occasional hurricanes. LOL). I would rather not deal with her storm. I am happy without it, but there is some guilt about cutting her off from my life. I don't want to be that sister who hasn't spoken to her sister for 10+ years. We haven't talked to each other since April 2018. We also took a year break back in 2016 and didn't speak to each other at all, because I stood up against her constantly telling me what I should do or not do in my own life. Thank you again for your advice!

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Guest Mores
14 minutes ago, jojo01 said:

I love both of your responses. It definitely made me stop and think. Thank you taking the time to give your input as well!

I hope the best for you.  You sound like you lucked out in the husband department.  I'm happy for you.

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2 hours ago, Mores said:

She has created an image of you in her mind that you're the punching bag.  Whatever frustration she feels, she takes it out on you for the slightest thing.  Such a dynamic takes a lot of effort to cure.

My sister works for a law enforcing agency. She comes across dark crimes in her line of duty that brings her spirit down. She would prefer not to work and be a stay at home mom (although her youngest child is 11 years old). Unfortunately it is not possible due to their lifestyle and the fact that her husband doesn't make enough money. Currently I am a stay at home mom. My youngest is under the age of 3. I feel that there is some jealousy, stress, pain..etc on her part. I do feel treated like a punching bag at times. My mom has told me multiple times not to let the things she says affect me because she will carry on with her life but I won't due to emotional distress. If we do get back to speaking terms, I will ask her that question in the most soft spoken voice: "Is there something else that's bothering you that caused this to trigger you?". I am making note of it. Thank you for telling me that story with your friend "Mary". and also for your other advice. I wish you well!

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Jojo, I agree with @MormonGator.  What he is describing is setting some healthy boundaries. That is so important and sometimes difficult for Christians because we wrongly think that being Christlike is synonymous with being a doormat.  You can be a Christlike person while at the same time keeping healthy boundaries.   

Something that stood out to me in your first post is that your parents, who know the situation better than us strangers on a forum, support you keeping some distance.  That says a lot.  Based mostly on that, I think you are right to keep your distance.

A wonderful book about Christian's and boundaries is called Boundaries: How to say yes and when to say no and take control of your life by Cloud and Townsend.  I highly recommend it!  

Edited by LiterateParakeet

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2 hours ago, LiterateParakeet said:

 That is so important and sometimes difficult for Christians because we wrongly think that being Christlike is synonymous with being a doormat. 

AMEN. Perfectly said. It's mostly non believers who think this way. "Hey, you call yourself a Christian, can you loan me 500$ to fix my car? What? You won't! How dare you call yourself a believer!" People also misunderstand "forgiveness". That doesn't mean "I'm allowing you to do bad things to me." IE-Your girlfriend cheats on you for the 7th time. You throw her out. She comes back begging for forgiveness, saying "You are a Christian, you must forgive me." No. Doesn't work that way. 

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JoJo, you are not meant to be anyone's doormat: you are a Child of God. I see no reason for you to apologize for anything based on what you have told us here. You don't need this relationship on these terms, leave things as they are. Perhaps someday they'll come around but as far as I'm concerned 'the ball is in their court'

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