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Is My Anger Justified?


Bael
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I am very angry at my relatives and I am considering letting them know why, however I would like to get some feedback before I do.

 

I grew up in a single parent home with my older sister. My mother was an alcoholic and never really went beyond the maturity level of a teenager. By age 15 I was a very depressed lonely confused young woman who was on the verge of becoming just like mom. My life changed when I went to live for a short vacation with my aunt who was a Christian. Her and her husband were my very first good role models. They were responsible loving people who seemed to accept me as their own daughter. After living with them for a few days I "received Christ" as my savior. I was so happy, overjoyed and believed that my life was on the way to being as wholesome and satisfying as theirs. However I went back home to the reality of my mother. For the next 20 years I was my mother's only friend. I was careful not to enable her drinking but I was always there to get her out of trouble, take her out on her birthday and visit her on holiday's. My older sister on the other hand rejected her. (Understandably) She made no attempts to hide her resentment for being raised in such a dysfunctional home. As it was I was the "good" child and she was the "bad" child. About 10 years ago I was awakened to find out that my mother had been in a car accident. I rushed to the hospital and called all the relatives. When I reached my sister I told her "Mom is dying." "You need to come now!" "Fuck No" Was all she said. My mother died and that was that.

 

NOW HERE IS THE REASON WHY I AM SO ANGRY!

 

 

My sister decided to do two things at this point. One was to begin having a relationship with my relatives. A very chummy nice good one. The other was to totally ignore me! She has not talked to me in over ten years!!! It is as if I am paying for my mother's sins! What bothers me the most about this is how my relatives make no attempt to confront her! They just say things like "Tina is doing so well!" "She is just a wonderful grandchild/niece etc... Meanwhile I continue to resent being treated this way! Now it seems like she is the "good" child and I am the "bad" one. I am very pissed off! (This is one of the reasons why I think Christianity is bullshit.) I feel that they should confront her and refuse to continue their acceptance of her until she apologizes for what she did to my mother and what she is doing to me! Am I justified in this???? Is it just something I need to deal with alone? Would I just be stirring up more trouble??? What should I do?

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Hey Bael, I'm sorry to hear that this is happening to you and your family. Unfortunately no one owes anyone anything, especially in adulthood. I can't imagine what you and your sister must have gone through growing up. Every family is happy and unhappy in its own way. I'm sorry to hear that you and your sister are further apart, as an only child I would really kill for a sibling.

 

It won't help by asking relatives to choose sides, that will just make your problems worse. Try to talk to your sister, you guys are all that you have left now of immediate family, I don't know about your current dad situation, but try to see if you can move past this with your sister. It sounds like she's getting back at you at all those years you were close with your mother, so now she's being chummy with your relatives while alienating you. She's probably hurt at everything that happened, try to talk to her, see what happens. If in the end she still rejects you, then you know that you did your very best. What else can you do?

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This sounds very similar to what is happening in my family right now.

 

My brother did this to me and my mother. As soon as he was moved out of the house, he made it absolutely clear he wanted nothing to do with us. For years I was the one left alone trying to manage my own life and taking care of my dysfunctional mom who regressed to the maturity of a teenager. He lived just five minutes drive away, but he would never come by, he would never call, or e-mail, and absolutely not help me or my mother.

 

Then all of a sudden he decided to come back and help us out. But he still treated me with little regard. I was the one who had to leave because being near my mother was causing more damage to us both than it helped. But I still don't talk to my brother. After all this time, I don't give a shit anymore whether he's in my life or not and he still doesn't bother to make contact with me. He doesn't want anything to do with me, and that's just fine. I hear about him through the grapevine.

 

Yes, you have every right to be furious. Your sister has acted selfishly, callously, and cowardly. The reasons are understandable, but that was her choice. I can understand my brother's reasoning too, but I still think he's a jerk.

 

Thing is, as much as I dislike my brother, he's not all bad. My relatives still love us both, and it's not fair (or very mature) to expect them to pick sides. Get chummy with your own relatives and screw her.

 

My advice is to tell her what's on your mind. Write her a letter or an e-mail and send it. She might come around, or she might continue to ignore you, but at least it will get it off your chest. Carrying all that anger around isn't healthy. It needs to be let go.

 

Family is bound by love and respect, not by blood. You're an adult now and you're free to choose your own functional family. You deserve better people around you than being stuck with the ones you grew up with. Good luck. I sympathise.

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Knightley is right Beal, although I will add.....I think before you try to talk to your sister, you need to sit with someone and deal with your own repressed anger toward you mother.

 

You were the "good" kid....which was never acknowledged by your mother (your relatives were not in a position to "know" that, so don't blame them).

 

You want credit for all the sacrifice you made...that would make life "fair". Now obviously life is not fair...you don't need to be told that.....so I'll tell you something else instead.

 

Even if your relatives acknowledged your "goodness" and personal sacrifice....even if your relationship with your sister magically improved....even if all the things you currently feel the need for were fulfilled and therefore made life "fair"......SOMETHING WOULD STILL FEEL "WRONG"!

 

Conquer your own demons. Then extend the olive branch. If you don't, your demons will shake that branch too hard for the "offer" to be accepted.

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Thanks for sharing and understanding. I think I will try to be nicer to them.

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Bael,

 

I wasn't there and I didn't suffer what you did; therefore, I don't feel I can justify or deny your anger.

 

Your relatives were not there either. They have no idea what you went through. You are the only one who really knows. I don't know why your sister resents you, have you asked her why? Do you think she felt that your mom, as alcoholic as she was, favoured you? Real or not, there is a reason why she feels the way she does toward you. Do you think you can ask her to tell you exactly what it is that she thinks you did?

 

As for your relatives, are you expecting them to read your mind and figure out what you want? Have you talked to them about it? Do you think they should submit to your desires?

 

Giving ALL that you've been through in life, a little therapy wouldn't hurt you. I would highly recommend it. It would help you put things into perspective.

 

All the best to you.

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I've seen this happen with my mother and her older sister and even my daughters. I don't know what it is about the oldest girl that tends to make them a bitch and the next daughter kind hearted.

 

This is what I think.

 

The oldest daughter, for a time, was an only child, given all the attention and was the little princess. Then you came along and usurped her throne and she's been pissed about it ever since. (although she may not consciously understand why she's so pissed off at you.)

 

You have always had the short end of the stick, so you are used to it, but not so with your older sister, she knew the good life for a while, until YOU came along.

 

Now if there are problems, divorce, alcoholism, the oldest one is going to blame the source of all the problems on your existance, because life was perfect (or so they imagined it to be) before YOU came along.

 

Taph

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Your sister may owe you an apology for how she treated you, but she owes no one an apology for how she treated your mother. She did the right thing with regard to your mother.

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Hmmm.

 

I'm finding your post (and others) very thought-provoking, because I am the oldest of 2 daughters from an alcoholic family. I could be your sister. We have the "good child/bad child" dynamics, but slightly differently than has been described so far.

 

In my family, when we were growing up, I was the "good child" and my younger sister was the "bad child." (My mother actually told us at varying times "You're the Good Daughter" or "You're the Bad Daughter.") Of the two of us, it was me who bent over backwards to please our mother and try to live up to her impossible expectations, and my younger sister who fought back and argued and was more rebellious.

 

Sometime during adolescence, our roles changed. After that, I was the Bad Daughter, and my sister was the Good Daughter. I heard nothing but criticism from my alcoholic mother until I left home. Since I'm no longer around to be her punching bag, the criticism has dropped way off; but I am the Bad Daughter to this day. I am not half as healthy, beautiful, happy, or successful as my younger sister is, and it is still plain to me that my mother values my sister far more than she does me.

 

Fortunately I have the sense to know that my sister isn't the cause of this. We just are the people who we are, and the person who creates the divisions is our mother. I actually love my little sister very much, and am glad to see her doing better than I am, because I know my life is messed up and I wouldn't want to wish it on anyone.

 

Like your sister, I have rejected my mother too. As the years pass I have less and less of an attachment to her. We have had only the shallowest relationship for years. I see her at holidays and speak rarely on the phone with her, and once my grandmother dies I will likely cut contact with my mother down to almost nothing. I was realizing even today that I likely will not attend her funeral. Why?

 

Well - she was a shitty mother and I don't owe her anything. She is utterly self-centered and completely uninterested in anyone's needs or comfort but her own. She has never once given any indication that she knows how deeply she hurt her family with her drinking, much less that she cares whether she did. Neither is she sorry for it. She is simply not the kind of human being I like or want to be around.

 

This may give you some clue about why your sister cut off your mother. If she feels as I do, she had every reason to. And I have bad news for you: it isn't any of your business what your sister's relationship with your mother was like. She did whatever she needed to do for her own sanity. In fact, she may have been the person in your family least saddled by the denial that plagues alcoholic families: if she was able to leave, perhaps it was because she was able to look the situation in the eye and realize it was unhealthy. She didn't owe your mother shit - and truthfully, neither did you.

 

It would be great, wouldn't it, if we lived in a world where devotion and loyalty were rewarded with love and praise. And maybe for some people, that is the way it works. Alcoholics are not among those people. Alcoholics are deep, bottomless black holes of need and illness, sucking everyone around them dry. The sad and painful truth is that it's most likely that all those years you spent serving your mother and being loyal to her were a waste of time, if you hoped to receive some kind of reward from her (or your family) for taking care of her. It isn't going to happen. Your family is not going to love you better because you stuck by your mother.

 

I'm not entirely certain from your post what your sister has "done" to you. Is it that she's alienated your family from you? Or that she's ignored you in general? Or both? Or something else? I'm honestly curious here, because it isn't entirely clear to me.

 

In any case, her relationship with the rest of your family isn't your business, either. The only relationship of hers that's your business is the one you have with her directly. Asking your relatives to get involved in your struggles with her is called triangulation; it's highly manipulative, and highly unhealthy. (Alcoholic families do it a lot. Not just the drinkers, either, but everybody.) If you want to deal with your sister, you need to talk to her directly and sort it out as best you can.

 

In the end, though, nobody owes you anything for your loyalty. It's a painful reality, but that's the way it is. On the flip side, you don't owe anybody anything, either, really. If you give to someone because you just feel like giving, that's not a bad thing. But if you expect to receive because of some good behavior on your part, well - honestly, that's the way that very young children think. And it's appropriate for very young children to think that way. Not adults.

 

Growing up in an alcoholic family is a nightmare. It leaves scars on everybody. Regardless of how you decide to approach your sister, I'd highly encourage you to get some kind of therapy first, if you haven't already. It takes a long time to untangle the lessons learned as an alcoholic's child - hell, I still struggle with that. Learning the painful realities is the worst. But I for one have always preferred to deal with reality. It's one of the reasons why I've limited contact with my family.

 

I hope that you're able to reach some kind of healing and resolution about this. Take care.

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