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Sister Drama

Dear Robin:

A year ago, my parents got divorced.  I still have a wonderful relationship with both of them, but my older sister hates my father and won’t speak to him at all.  The stress of redefining family relationships has now driven my sister (age 25) and I (age 23) apart.

Let me give you some background on our relationship. 

She’s always been very mean and angry, her behavior often bordering on emotionally abusive.  If she doesn’t get her way, she will make my life miserable, and if I try to raise any issue with her, she plays the victim and says terrible things to me.  I have tried to repair our relationship many times, but I’m at a loss as to how to deal with her.

More recently, she hasn’t let me say a word about my positive opinion of my father because she says it “invalidates her feelings”.  In other words, she wants to be able to say that my dad is a terrible person without any disagreement from me (I wish I was exagerrating). 

I proposed that we not talk about dad when we’re in the same room and she got violently angry, yelling that I wanted to take away her freedom of speech and again telling me what a monster I am.

I think this most recent rift is largely due to the fact that she is feeling abandoned by my father and doesn’t know how to deal with her hurt.  Divorce is a stressful thing for everyone.  I want to be able to help her, but how can I when I can barely speak to her without getting yelled at?

My question to you is, what can I do in this situation?  I only see no win scenarios and the things she says when she’s angry are extremely hurtful.  Do you have any advice on how to navigate such a delicate situation?

A Sister

Dear Sister:

You are being held hostage by a master manipulator and emotional terrorist who desperately needs professional help but will not likely seek it.  

Free yourself.

I understand divorce is hard on everyone in a family, but your sister is using the unfortunate split of your parents to make herself the center of attention.  She’s been doing this all her life, am I right?

She is an angry Drama Queen and you are her audience.  Like a fire without oxygen, a Drama Queen cannot exist without an audience and someone or something over which to rage.  

You mentioned in our chat your sister won’t see a therapist but that she was in anger management from the ages of 5 to 10.  Wow.

I can give you all the free advice in the world (that’s worth every penny!) on how to deal with your sister but nothing will change her behavior until she grows the hell up and learns that she is not allowed to behave this way.

However, she is not the only one who needs to change.

Knock it Off!

  • Stop walking on eggshells.
  • Stop “navigating.”  
  • Stop giving her an audience.  
  • Stop offering yourself up as a punching bag to a chronically angry young woman who will mature into a chronically angry old (and probably lonely) woman if she doesn’t get help.

You said she is coming home this week from a graduate program in Japan.  I suggest you send her the following email and stay away until she gets her shit together:

Dear Sister:

You have used me as your emotional punching bag since we were children.  We are no longer kids and I will no longer put up with your behavior.

You are not the only person in our family affected by the divorce so quit acting as if you are.  Your anger and outrage dominate every aspect of our time together and cause me undue stress.

You complain bitterly about Dad and the spankings he used to administer when we were children, and yet you are incredibly abusive as well.  You use words instead of your hands but your words are intolerable.  I care enough about myself to choose peace instead of your constant war.

I urge you to speak with someone about your rage issues.  

Until you do, and until you reach out to me and let me know you are making progress on those issues, I do not want to spend time together.

That’s the easy part.  The hard part is sticking to your guns and staying away.

As for family events?  Make your own time with those family members who are decent toward you and avoid those which your sister will attend.

Once we get to a certain age, nobody can bully or intimidate us without both our permission and our acceptance.  Would you tolerate this type of crap from a friend or lover?  No.  

Shared blood does not make us “family,”nor does it constitute tacit consent for abuse.

Remember that if she does not get help and get well, because while we can’t choose who our family is, we sure as hell can choose whether or not to spend time with them.

PS: Please tell her that “freedom of speech” does not mean what she thinks it means.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Tamsen

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Good grief, let go of her, she’s not worth the time, stress and emotional baggage. if she gets better (and frankly I highly doubt she will) then give it a try again, but there is no reason to continue the way you are. Just because you’re related by blood doesn’t mean you need to spend time together and it is not up to you to “fix” her or “help” her. Stop it.

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