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Friends and Family Everyone has disagreements, even best friends and family. If you need advice about a relationship, ask us here.

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Emotions + my sister. - October 6th 2017, 09:37 PM

So, there's been a lot of tension between my sister and myself. We actually didn't talk for a lot of last year because of... well, a lot of things. We reconciled earlier this year and it's all been fine, up until yesterday when she started doing the same things that were so upsetting to me last year.

Basically, she seems to think that I'm not allowed to say that I'm tired or busy because there's no possible way I could be as tired or busy as her, with her full time job and her marriage and her everything else. Last year at one point when she came to visit I mentioned that I was tired, and she told me that she'd been up since five and I'd only been up since nine and therefore I couldn't be tired. Which is incredibly frustrating to me because it doesn't seem fair that she should be allowed to be the judge of what I'm allowed to feel and when.

I have brought this up with her but we haven't resolved the issue. Which brings me to yesterday, when she asked me to do something and I told her that I wouldn't be able to do it that day. I said that I'd been busy that week as well, which is true - I started a new job, and it's a bit of an adjustment after having no real commitments for over a year. But apparently I'm not allowed to be busy because the thing she asked me to do would only take five minutes... even though she had already failed to do something I had asked her to do weeks ago, which would have taken the same amount of time. (Which apparently is my fault for not reminding her or asking her about it, even though the thing I had asked her to do was relevant to both of us and was something she had said she would do so I therefore left her to do it.) When I reminded her of that she went into a spiel about how busy she had been, which isn't relevant at all because I have never questioned the validity of her feelings or assertions. If she says she's too busy or tired or sick or whatever else to do something, then I just accept that. I don't see why she can't do the same for me, just because I don't have exactly the same set of responsibilities and circumstances as she does.

So I guess what I'm asking is: am I in the right here? I hate feeling so defensive but it's hard when she essentially tells me that I have no right to my emotions because she has more of a right, in her mind, to feel them. Does that make any sense, or am I correct in thinking that I should be allowed to feel whatever I'm feeling because it's my life, regardless of what's happening in hers? I have never compared my life to hers, because they're so fundamentally different that it's literally pointless, so I don't understand why she's constantly doing it. She fairly frequently tells me that I ''don't understand what it's like to [be as busy as she is/have all her responsibilities/etc]" which is also irrelevant because I have never once said that I do. It's like she's defending herself against accusations that I've never even made, and I've already specifically told her that of course I don't understand precisely because I'm not in her position... but she seems to think that she's allowed to judge my life but I shouldn't be allowed to judge hers. It feels like a very one-sided conversation whenever this kind of thing comes up.

Any advice on what I should do in this situation? Honestly I'm leaning towards just pulling back and giving her time to change her ways, because she's not receptive when I do try to talk to her about it (I have outright said that it's hurtful when she does this, and yet she continues to do it, so I don't really know what else to do). I would like to have a better relationship with her, but we're not communicating well and after everything that happened last year (e.g. her partner sending me a scathing, belittling text after I had messaged my sister to ask her not to text me at 11pm on a weeknight because I was trying to sleep and she had messaged me several times in short succession when she could have easily combined everything into one single text, which is apparently ''not something any adult would do'') I'm just kind of at the end of my rope with her.




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Re: Emotions + my sister. - October 6th 2017, 10:01 PM

As someone who can see this through an outsider's perspective I think you are most definitely in the right here. You are allowed to feel whatever you're feeling because it is your life and you can't help how you feel. Only you know how you feel and it isn't right for your sister to try to tell you how you are allowed to feel. It seems like a double standard.

Do you think she could be going through something that could make her act this way, or has she always been that way? Perhaps there is something going on in her life that makes her feel misunderstood or if she has always been this way maybe it is part of her personality.

Is therapy an option for you? If it is, you might be able to look into having some family therapy sessions. This way, you'd be able to talk to your sister in the way that you have before but with a therapist as a mediator.

You could also try talking to your sister again and letting her know that you've noticed she has made changes for the better but you feel like she has been going back to her old ways lately. It is possible that she is unaware of how she is acting and could use a little reminder.

All in all, your and your mental health is important. If you try to improve your relationship with no success, maybe you could take a step back and give your sister some time to see if she is ready to work on herself.


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Re: Emotions + my sister. - October 7th 2017, 10:16 PM

Thank you so much for the response!

I think it's a combination of her inherent tendency to be dismissive/judgemental like this and her emotions being exacerbated by stress, which causes her to lash out. Although that still doesn't really explain why she feels like it's necessary to try to blame me for things that aren't my fault or have nothing to do with me.

I don't think therapy is an option at the moment, for several reasons: first, the fact that neither of us can afford it; second, we live an hour and a half away from each other so it would be difficult for us to agree on a place anyway; and third, I've mentioned the idea in the past and my sister has been very much against it. So, that probably won't work right now. It's something I would definitely like to do, but it's one of those things that only works if everyone's on board.

I did try to talk to her, which included taking responsibility for where I'd fallen short (e.g. phrasing something badly which contributed to her misunderstanding it), but if history is any indication she'll likely ignore that and refuse to take responsibility herself - the last time we had an argument like this I owned up to where I felt I was at fault, she didn't, and she also told me that I needed to be respectful and act like an adult... which strikes me as a little hypocritical given her refusal to acknowledge my feelings or admit to any wrongdoing on her part, both of which (in my understanding) are pretty integral to mature resolution of conflicts.

Then again, I'm the younger sister, and I don't have a full-time job or a marriage or anything like that, so what would I know?




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Re: Emotions + my sister. - October 7th 2017, 11:44 PM

Yeah, that still doesn't explain why she blames you for things you don't have anything to do with. Maybe she's projecting instead - she feels like blaming herself but instead aims her feelings of self blame towards you.

Therapy can definitely be helpful if it is an option but aside from the costs, everyone has to be on board like you mentioned and there's only so much you can do by yourself to work on the relationship. If you eventually hit a time when you can afford therapy, maybe you could consider going for individual counseling so you can talk about how your sister's actions have impacted you.

It is good that you tried to talk to her even if it didn't work out super well. What she said in the past does sound hypocritical and if history is any indication of how she'll act since you've talked to her, maybe it would be best for you if you stepped back for a little while and gave her some space for her to work on things when or if she's ready.


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