I Hate


I Hate

boxing-415394_640I hate Sibling.

In this moment, I hate her with my whole heart.

Sibling has three adult children--daughters who are 28, 26 and 22. Over the years, no matter how much heartache and pain Sibling caused the family, I did my best to be as involved with my nieces as I could. When Sibling wouldn't allow us to see them because of some slight that existed only in her imagination, I held my nieces in my heart. When Sibling allowed us to see them again, I only spoke kindly of their mother, my oldest sibling.

So, when Sibling started her nonsense this summer, I followed that script. When Sibling and her husband boycotted my parents' anniversary party and my dad's birthday, I made sure my nieces who did show felt comfortable and at ease. When my youngest niece helped me move my parents, I told my niece how much I much I liked where she placed the toaster her mom bought in my parents' kitchen. When I see my niece, a librarian at our local library, I am friendly and loving.

At the combination anniversary and birthday party, I gave my oldest niece, S., a birthday card with an offer to treat her for dinner. I reached out to S. a few weeks ago, asking when we could get together for dinner. (S. is the niece who lashed out at my mom at the nursing home this summer.)

Today, I finally received a reply from S.:

Hi Aunt Denise. I'm sorry for taking this long to reply to you text. I have been wanting to respond but unsure of what to say. Here's what I know: It's really hard and upsetting for me when there's discord among extended family members, and it was really sad and upsetting for me to feel like the extended family fell apart this summer. Family is so important to me and I am still feeling very sad about the current state of things. At this moment in time, I can't say yes to getting together one-on-one. I will be at Aunt B. and Uncle K.'s for dessert on Thanksgiving so I will see you then. Hope things are going okay.

I penned a reply, which looked like this:

I guess I'm pretty confused. Your mom told Aunt J. this summer at the nursing home she was done with me. I've not done anything to your mom. I'd be happy to share our text thread between your mom and myself and your aunt and uncles. I have made the choice to surround myself with healthy, supportive people. We're all disappointed at how (and how often) your mom bailed on us this summer. During some really difficult moments when I really needed help, your mom refused to help. And, yet, I've never said, "I'm done with her." We've just moved on. I think given how much drama and heartache your mom has caused (and for no reason), we've been incredibly gracious. We're inclusive, not excluding anyone regardless of how badly they behave. We've invited your mom to all family events that have happened--your mom has chosen not to show. And, she doesn't reply that she can't come--she just doesn't show. You are strong enough to see who your mom is, S. The truth has been there for years. You can love her and love us, too. I'm sorry your mom continues to create and perpetuate the discord. I'm sorry she's led you to believe you must pick sides. It's terribly sad.

But, I didn't send that one (at least not yet). I sent this one:

Oh, I'm so glad you'll be at Thanksgiving. See you then.

I should also note that my brother, who has been just as distressed as I about Sibling, is hosting Thanksgiving this year and sent an invitation to everyone in the family, including Sibling and her family.

I also just ate three pieces of Halloween candy.

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My brother and I are very close, and always have been, however, it's certainly natural that there are times when we become annoyed with one another. Although we haven't figured out a \"perfect\" way to quickly get to resolution each time, the one thing we do NOT do is give up on each other (also, humor and humility are helpful strategies!). Unlike my brother and me, our parents grew up in large families, and each had at least one sibling who at some point became upset about something, moved far away and never came back. It was sad witnessing the remaining family spend countless years demonstrating confusion, sadness, frustration, anger, regret, resentment...all of these icky, negative emotions that might have been washed away if there was an effort made to reach out and reconcile. Instead, pride stood tall and walls were built. As a result, I have cousins I have never met. They probably have children now, that my children have never met and will probably never meet. When our parents passed away, we were unsure how to get in touch with these long-lost siblings to let them know... all the while wondering if they would even want to know. So sad.\r\n\r\nYou are doing the right thing by trying to maintain a positive relationship with your nieces. Hopefully someday you and your sibling will reconcile - but until then, you can continue to set a good example to your nieces and enjoy your time with your family. Even if you are occasionally met with rejection, brush it off and remain loving and approachable - if nothing else, you will have clear conscious that you did your best and that you tried.


Hi Denise,\r\n\r\nI admire your thoughtfulness and restraint. Your niece may come to realize her mom's contribution to the poor relationships with her siblings--or not. Who knows what pressure is being brought to bear by Sibling--\"it's me or them.\" Especially since they live together. And, even knowing that someone's behavior is due to mental illness doesn't make it any easier to tolerate. Keep your distance as much as possible and continue to reach out to your family members on your terms.


Thank you so much <a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/anita0419/' rel=\"nofollow\"><a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/anita0419/' rel=\"nofollow\">@anita0419</a></a> <a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/jbones1961/' rel=\"nofollow\"><a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/jbones1961/' rel=\"nofollow\">@jbones1961</a></a> and <a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/jmkeslin/' rel=\"nofollow\"><a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/jmkeslin/' rel=\"nofollow\">@jmkeslin</a></a>.\r\n\r\nMy niece has been a wonderful friend which is why it's so frustrating. I felt much better last night.\r\n\r\nI am going to do what I can to keep an even keel through the holidays. My mom wants to spend whatever time she can with my nieces this holiday and I want to make that happens. I may do something after the holidays. My niece lives with my sister so that adds a wrinkle.\r\n\r\nAnd, <a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/jmkeslin/' rel=\"nofollow\"><a href='http://www.caregiving.com/members/jmkeslin/' rel=\"nofollow\">@jmkeslin</a></a>, you helped me see another side of my sister's issues this summer after I wrote another blog post about her. I have long thought of her as ill. You made me realize she's also an abuser. I've seen her emotionally and verbally abuse her children, her husband and the rest of us over the years. But, I was so close to this behavior I completely missed it as abuse. She's an abuser. It's so obvious now. I also want to make sure I am careful about my conversations about my sister with my nieces, who have long been victims of her abuse.\r\n\r\nSo sad. So sad my sister never got the help she needed, even as the signs that she needs help got louder and louder and louder.


Denise, you show such restraint! Your doing a darn good job, taking as much steam out of sibling's behavior as you possibly can. I feel bad for you, your family and especially your nieces to be caught up in the middle. But I think you are doing everything possible to try to keep them out of the middle. They are probably really seeing mom now for who she is, and it is probably very difficult for them. You truly are a great aunt. I think they know that, and will see even clearer in the future. You have wisely vented here. \r\n\r\nI'm so sorry you have to go through this over and over. at times, with my sister, it is much easier to stay angry and rant about her. Otherwise, I just cry, because it does really hurt.


Denise,\r\n\r\nI really admire you for how you handled the situation. I have one sister and we haven't been close for many, many years. When anything happened in our family, I was always there for my parents. It's a long story but my sister always had a reason she couldn't come if they needed her. I was named their POA without even knowing it. I was my mother's caregiver while she was in a nursing home for over 5 years while her dementia got worse and worse. I took care of all her business affairs, fighting insurance companies, doctor's calls and appointments, broken hip in hospital, laundry, advocate for anything she needed. I had to do the paperwork for Medicaid eventually. I went every week for visits and dirty laundry. My sister came maybe every 2 or 3 months if then. Never came on holidays until after they were over when she felt like it. My resentment grew and grew. My mom's dementia got worse and I called hospice in for her the last 6 months she was alive. She passed on Aug. 6th this year. I miss her terribly but I have no guilt feelings and have peace that I did the best I could. I'm not sure if my sister does or not. Now that my parents are gone we don't have to have a relationship anymore and of that I'm glad. She would never be there if I needed her.\r\n\r\nYou are a much better person than I am because you continue to try and keep contact with your nieces and family. My niece will not even speak to me and that's another long story. All I can say is that your sister will never change and you have to accept that. I'm trying too but I think it is too late for me. You have given me a lot of advice on this site and the people here have given me the support my sister couldn't. I will keep you in my prayers that maybe your sister will change. You're doing a great job with your parents and you won't have any regrets when they are gone either. You will have peace.\r\n\r\nGod Bless You,\r\n\r\nAnita