Post # 1
Bees, I’m having a hard time with my family lately. I’ll try to make this as brief as possible:
My sister is 2 years younger than me. She started dating a guy about 5 years ago, and they bring out the worst in each other. Since then, she’s gotten progressivly worse, as in: stealing from family, constantly lies to family, manipulates, has complete and utter psychotic meltdowns on a regular basis, etc. She hasn’t worked in about a year, she lives in her boyfriend’s parents’ basement. She will sometimes call me and just SCREAM at me for (honest to God) no reason at all. (For the bees that say she needs counseling, we know. She was going, but has since stopped, because the therapist was forcing her to look at her problems). She is also completely codependent on her boyfriend, and can’t spend the night away from him. I could go on and on with her problems, but the point is, she’s very unhealthy and causes me and DH a great deal of emotional stress.
So my mom was on the phone with me this morning, talking about my sister’s latest meltdown. She asked me to go to dinner with her, and I flat out said that I can’t keep subjecting myself to this turmoil. It’s causing me crazy amounts of stress and worry, and it’s obviously not helping her at all. My mom flipped out, and said family should ALWAYS be there for each other. I said that I’m in a state of self-preservation at this point.
What do you think? Should you always be there for family, no matter what? Even if it causes you incredible stress? Or should you worry about yourself and give up on them?
Post # 3
- Wedding: September 2014 - Turf Valley
No. There does come a point where the toxicity of family can become too much. It sounds like you’ve reached this point with your sister. Just because she’s blood related doesn’t obligate you to her in any way. I firmly believe that the bond of family is earned, not inherited.
Post # 4
I think there is a middle ground between always being a doormat, and completely giving up on them.
I have a pretty toxic relationship with my sister as well. At this point, we just keep our distance from eachother. I will always love her and if she ever had an emergency or needed me, I would be there. But I dont see her (havent seen her in a year) and we dont speak. It’s toxic when we do and I refuse to put myself in that situation.
It sounds like for you it’s time to take a step back. Let your sister know that you love her but you need to focus on yourself for the time being. Hopefully in the future things will improve over time.
Post # 5
@QueenOfSerendip: I think that you should try to be there for family as much as you can be, but there’s a point where you have to say ‘no, that’s enough’. You don’t choose eho you’re related to and some people are just toxic emotional drains. If they cause you a lot of upset and don’t want to be helped then it’s fine to cut them out of your life. Parents should always try to help their children (obviously there are exceptions to every rule ) but you’re this girl’s sister, not her mom. Sometimes it takes being cut off to make people realise their problems. You’re doing the right thing by not enabling your sister’s unhealthy behaviour, don’t let your parents give you shit for it.
Post # 6
I think if a family member is really that toxic at some point you cut them off. Maybe leave the door open if they decide to make a change but I don’t see how you tolerating her behavior is helping her in any way. Mrs. Socks has a post somewhere about toxic family members. I eventually severed ties with my maternal grandmother and I still feel it was for the best.
Post # 7
@QueenOfSerendip: Fully agree that in situations like this its exactly the right decision to start creating distance. She will always be your sister. Make sure to attempt to include (and deal with her) at family functions – if she shows. But you are not responsible for her. It tis not your fault and you cannot be the one blamed if you cannot spend your time, energy and heartache on her.
I say that you can’t disown your family – but you can decide how the relationship will be handled. I haven’t seen my father in 10 years. I am better off for it. He hurt a lot of us. My stepmother is an amazing grandmother but she has a few attitude issues – I keep her at bay but I to still make time to spend with her on my terms.
You are fully within your rights as a human being. Your mother doesn’t understand yet – give her a few more years…she’ll be right there with you. Part of the reason why moms hold on longer to these toxic children is because they blame themselves for how they turned out – you may need to assure her that your sister is her own persona nd the decisions she has made and is making are not due to anything else but her personality – which is unique and cannot be taught…
Post # 8
There comes a point where you have to step back, maybe not having you in her life will make her realize she has to change. If not then at least you aren’t subjected to her abuse and toxic ways. I know it’s hard but you have to do it for yourself and your mom should respect your decision.
Post # 9
@QueenOfSerendip: I think healthy boundaries are really important. When you have a difficult family member, I think it’s best to draw the line at participating in activities that aren’t actually helping the person make positive changes. Going out to dinner with you will not make a difference. You can tell her and your mom that you love her and you will help her job search, offer her a place to stay if she decides to leave her loser boyfriend, etc. But you can’t keep engaging with her without actually helping. Your interactions with her are just enabling her crazy behavior. By creating boundaries, you aren’t actually giving up on her, you’re creating a foundation for a better relationship in the future, when she’s ready to turn things around.
Post # 10
@QueenOfSerendip: No. No, no, no. I respectfully disagree with your mother. Sure, have your sisters back…until it starts impacting your health and life. She is a big girl making some poor life choices, and it sounds like your mom might be enabling her by continuing to try to “save” her.
What you said to your mother was perfect: “I cannot keep subjecting myself to this.”
Post # 11
No, sometimes you have to 1) do Tough Love and 2) save yourself.
Post # 12
I have distanced myself from my dad more and more in the past 5 years. It was simply weighing me down to talk or be around him. He leads a sad life, but he’s done it to himself.
Post # 13
I think you did the right thing. There comes a point when trying to help someone is actually hurting them and you. It will be good for both of you to have some ground rules for your relationship, she needs to realise that, even though she has problems, you are her sister, not her emotional punching bag! Not having family give her behaviour attention might also encourage her to help herself, which is what she really has to do.
My sister is similar, not with violent rages or anything, but constantly trying to quit working and go and live off my monther because she gets herself too stressed to deal with it, for no reason. She needs to see a councilor, but won’t. When she is offered practical solutions with how to cope better at work she just becomes upset and hangs up the phone. She constantly talks about how she has no friends and no money, but her facebook is plastered with pictures of her with her friends at various events, wearing expensive clothes. She had my mum worried to the point of being ill recently because she was being so dramatic about she was going to be fired from work, which was not the case at all. I just couldn’t listen to it anymore and after we all cut off the attention for a while, she was able to sort herself out! Shock!
I don’t know if your situation is anything like this, but it might be the way to go. You might have to sit your mother down and explain how enabling her behaviour is actually hurting her.
Post # 14
@QueenOfSerendip: no, there becomes a point when it is too much. one of my very good friends has very little contact with her family because they are toxic people. she chose the people she wants to be with. luckily she married a wonderful man who has a family that adores her.
Post # 15
ugh i understand completely. i’m at the same point with my younger brother, who is just selfish and toxic. everytime i’m around him or talk to him, it just really upsets me. i’m trying to distance myself as much as possible for now, but i personally am not ready to cut all ties completely because i still hope he’ll snap out of it soon. :/
Post # 16
We’re going through this with FI’s older brother. Ever since his kid was born, he’s decided that his family is worthless unless there’s something in it for him. They have no phones, take forever to answer emails, etc. And he’s our best man. Goodie. They’re constantly late to everything (they live in another state, so when they’re up here, it’s not like work ran late or something, it’s legitimately they don’t give a fuck about anyone else). FMIL says that she isn’t a grandmother because her grandson basically doesn’t exist. That breaks my heart.
I’m done. I’m one more bullshit away from freaking the fuck out. I don’t want him in the wedding anymore. I spoke to FI’s stepmom a couple of weeks ago, and she’s feeling the same way I am, but of course, being the fiance and the stepmom and not “actual” family (not our words), we aren’t “allowed” to say or do anything, and it is frustrating. Family does NOT get a free pass.