Releasing the past in order to find myself

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Hello friends!

I have been away having technical difficulties with my computer.  I have so many posts swirling around in my brain and I am looking forward to writing my thoughts down and get them out of my head. 

But, until I can find the time to do that I have had some questions in my mind that I would like to open up to anyone who might have some thoughts.  The reason I am asking is because I am looking to address an issue with my sister.  She believes that we've had a close, "supportive" relationship in the past.  I think it has really been unilateral support.  She expects me to support her in all things, all of the time.  Support to her means that I validate her choices (by agreeing with her.  I often can see her reasoning to things, but often come to different conclusions).  By not supporting her in this way, she feels you are then judging her.  I am trying to find a way to explain that I should be able to disagree but can still be supportive.  I am also trying to find a way to explain that while I may support her as a person, I can not support destructive and harmful behaviors (to herself and others) that I see her engaging in.  For example, she continually goes back to abusive boyfriends (to be fair, she is most likely physically aggressive too.  The relationships- of which she's had more than one-are volatile, destructive, violent, and dramatic.  I do not want to engage in "supporting" her in these relationships any more.  In fact, I do not want these men in my home, around me, or in my life.  However, my sister finds this to be unacceptable.  She often accuses me and my father of being judgmental of people and unfair by not giving these jerks second chances.  She believes for me to be supportive of her, I need to listen to her trials and tribulations with these men and engage with them.   This is just one situation in her life, but it is representative of many things about her that I no longer wish to have in my life.  But she believes I have to accept all of this stuff, in order to accept her.  I'm struggling on how to phrase my feelings in order to get my point across.  Any thoughts?  Below are some questions I've been pondering in relationship to this:

What does being supportive mean to you?
Does supporting someone mean you have to agree with them?  How can I explain that I don't have to agree with their decisions in order to be supportive of them?
Do you have to support someone (or a choice) they make indefinitely, if you have supported their choice at some point? 
If someone is making dangerous or harmful choices (continually), how can your remove yourself from it without it seeming judgmental?  Is it possible to "support" someone that is choosing things like this?

Thanks all!


  1. I had to distance myself from my sister for many of the reasons you listed. My sister was not interested in hearing other than what she wanted to hear. She has friends who were willing to cluck and pander to her. It ended up being pointless for me to try to explain something to her that she was unwilling to understand. Your sister may not be the same as mine, but I suspect that anything you attempt to say to her wil go on deaf ears. I hope your sister is more able to change than mine, but from what you've written, she seems to be stuck in patterns that she is comfortable with (regardless of how much she may bemoan her situation, my sister revels in drama. Bad attention is just as good as positive)

    I wish you better luck and sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

    1. I think just hearing that you have a similar situation is helpful to me.

      I really have lost hope of her changing at all. I tried for years, many, many years to throw her a life preserver and help her out. So, at this point, I'm just trying to draw some firm lines in the sand. Unfortunately, she lives in a reality distinctly different than mine, and I struggle to communicate with her effectively. She has been swarming around (now that she knows I'm trying to separate) and she is refusing to give up her "supportive sister" without a fight.

  2. I think you are on the right track as to how to be support. I also would not want to be around people that I deem to be dangerous.

    That does not sound so much like a judgement as a fact. I don't know that she will ever see it, but I would tell her that I am happy to see her, but do not feel safe around her boyfriends right now. And SHE should support you in that.

    1. That is an interesting thought that she should be supportive of me wanting to protect my kids and myself from dangerous people (and the drama the relationships bring). Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. I have just gone through the whole thing with one sister--she is the drama queen. All our lives, she has demanded sympathy from anyone who would listen. I finally got smart and realized she was just using people to give her attention and sympathy.
    Obviously our opinions on things are different and as we aged, it became more divergent. It happens. But the warning bell is when you are not allowed your opinion. And it sounds like that is happening. Do not conform, you are allowed your thoughts and opinions, and if anyone claims you are not being 'supportive' because you differ, well, you are involved with a mini-Hitler and that is not good news. I stood my ground and my sister doesn't talk with me anymore. It is a loss, but I will not compromise my values and principles to make her feel good. If you give up your values to make her happy, where will that end? Anyone who denies your right to your values is a tyrant.

  4. I think the root of the problem here is that they speak a different "language": to be supportive, like you said, means to agree and approve. You could try to explain it until you're blue in the face but I'm not sure it'll get through. They're very committed to see their reality in that particular way. Still, I agree that it's important that you do say these things to her, whether she understands them or not. Maybe another way of going about it is to turn the issue back to them. For instance, if she says that you're not being supportive, ask her to define what supportive is, or say something like: "how I am not being supportive?"
    BTW, I showed this post to DH and he was blown away. He said: "you could have written that".
    The words "In fact, I do not want these men in my home, around me, or in my life. " really stood out to me when I read the post. It was as if the whole phrase was almost standing out of the page, as if the letters were on 3D or something. There's nothing judgemental about not wanting to have those sort of people in your house, rather it is self-preserving (and in your case, even more so because of the kids). For your sister, like mine, to insist on us putting up with people whom we feel uncomfortable with, shows how little they care about our feelings.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Kara. I agree, she most likely will never "get it" the way I want her to. But I need to know that I've said it to her. She and I were both "trained" by NM that we had to support anything and everything our family members did (and by that, I mean accept everything they did, no questions asked). And I think having the "how am I not being supportive" line at the ready will be so helpful. I've found, so much, that having new phrases and "lines" at the ready has helped me block the old ways of thinking.
      I am amazed at times how similar lives our, two continents apart. And I agree, not wanting to association with dangerous people is not judgmental, but for my own good. And definitely for the kids. It is because of them that a lot of this has popped up. I do not want those kinds of behaviors around my kids or modeled for them. I wouldn't accept it from strangers or associates, so why would I accept it from my family members. I think the truth is that when she sees me "judging" them, she takes it as judgement against herself. And really, I don't want her around my kids if she is going to be hostile and fly off the handle all of the time. I don't like worrying that she will behave awfully in front of the kids (and she always seems shocked when I suggest she might, but looking at how she has always behaved suggests otherwise!)
      And no, she does not care about my feelings at all. Or my husbands. Or really the kids. It's about getting her way all of the damn time. I have a feeling that once I set these boundaries, there will be some serious push back on her part and when I tell her to stop, she'll decide to stop having a relationship with me. I just don't know if I'm quite ready for that battle yet.

  5. "...and when I tell her to stop, she'll decide to stop having a relationship with me." Yk, I think that's a real "Tell" in terms of what's up here. It seems you want sis to terminate the relationship as she's done so many times in the past, only to re-appear at her convenience with Mummy's "blessing" because Mummy wants her kids to be "close." Sis cuts you off with impunity, at her whim, rage, what ever. So Mummy starts pushing buttons, throwing levers etc. behind the scenes while expressing exasperation etc. to you about your sister after the two of them have clashed and pinged off each other like ball bearings in a physics experiment. Like, "Here, Jessie. You fix this!" Meanwhile, the two of them continually run laps around the Karpman Triangle. So you step in to "Help." And invariably, you end up quickly switching places from The Rescuer to the Persecutor.
    Jessie, you want need need to be heard. Do I think sis is gonna hear you? No. But that's not as big a need as feeling you've absolutely done your best to have some sort of relationship with your sister. When and if you decide to walk away, you will do so knowing you've pulled out all the stops. And "judgement" is both a right and responsibility which we exercise every day: It's called "life experience" and the purpose is to learn from it. The more difficult, complex, historical the situation, the greater the "lag time" between our heads and our hearts. Getting the two of them to "agree" IMO is ultimately the greatest challenge and goal.
    What ever is gonna facilitate that goal for you? That's what's best for you.

  6. That is it Jessie, are you ready to protect your boundaries for your kids, your husband and yourself no matter what the consequences? As long as you waiver, she will continue to behave just as she likes. As long as you go along with her to keep peace means you are putting her before your kids, husband, and yourself. It is a tough decision. It is easier to roll with the punches that she dishes out than to stand your ground and say enough. Too often people throw out you are being judgmental as if it is a bad thing. In my opinion, we have a responsibility to judge who is safe to have in our lives and who is not safe. A question to consider, are you going to let your sister judge for you who is to be in your life?
    Is it all right if I take your list of questions and make a post out of it?

    1. Ruth, I had never thought about the fact that I'm letting my sister judge who is allowed and not allowed in my life. But I'd always felt because she was my sister, I HAD to accept her boyfriends into my life and my home.
      I would be honored if you used my questions and I look forward to reading your post.

  7. It's tough to draw the lines of what is acceptable when all our lives we've been programmed to just take whatever the N's dish out. It's an automatic reaction to let them have their way if they fuss, it's what we have been brainwashed to do. But if we won't stand up for ourselves, we need to stand up for our spouses and our children. We need to focus on what is healthy and appropriate for their sake. They are our primary responsibility. It took me some time to realize that N-mom and M-sis weren't at the top of the priority list, my husband and children come first. If you feel N-sis is putting you in unhealthy situations with boyfriends, you have every right to state that this isn't appropriate for your children. A normal person would be concerned that you aren't comfortable with the weird boyfriends and wouldn't push you to change your values. Be prepared for howling from the N-sis, a Narc is very vocal when they don't get their way. Stand firm and protect your children.