I am 33 and female. I grew up with a mentally ill/narcissistic mother and an older sister. I live in Texas, far from the rest of my family, who live in California. I am a fairly new Christian and have been in recovery from codependency for about 2 years now. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and in turn was in a very codependent marriage for nearly 10 years with an addict.
After my divorce, I started my recovery and my relationship with God. Part of that process involved working on my relationships with my mother and my sister. For the first time ever, I started to enforce boundaries and not behave in a codependent manner with my mother. We didn't speak for a few months, which was very difficult, but we came to an understand which allowed us to have a relationship that is healthier. I don't really feel like we can be close because she does not understand my boundaries, but I enforce them and she seems to put up with that.
Not long after that, my sister and I had a falling out. My sister has always been very codependent with my mother and places herself in the martyr role in the family. I've always felt like she feels I owe her for everything she has done and that I have a debt in her eyes that can never be repaid. Her and I got into an argument about this nearly a year ago. We didn't speak for several months. I reached out to her to try to work it out and she responding by asking what I wanted and expected out of our relationship. I responded, telling her that I felt we needed to have an adult relationship free from emotional debts, blame, and judgement. She never responded. Now, my mother is telling me that I need to reach out to mysister because she is going through a difficult time and I need to "be the bigger person." I refuse because I am not willing to return to the relationship in the state that it was. I maintain that we need to redefine our relationship and be honest with each other before we can move on.
Am I being stubborn, or am I resisting emotional blackmail? I am having a hard time sorting this out. I would like to have a healthyrelationship with my sister, but I would rather have no relationship than continue in a unhealthy manner. Please let me know what you think. Thank you.
The following user gives a hug of support to sashmlr: ninamarc (04-24-2012)
No, you are not. Taking care of yourself comes first. If your sister wants to act like you owe her, that is her own problem. She seems unhealthy herself, and do what you have to do to keep yourself sane and healthy. Congrats on your recovery, I am in recovery from drugs and alcohol, and definately suffered from co-dependancy.
I have a sister like that and a Mom who supports her. Althought they have no mental issues but they do have some suspicion issue that they like to accuse people and do things like co-dependency and expect everyone else does the same or people are always corrected by my sis.
You don't have to give in. Yes, you may want to be political with Mom and Sis since it is your family. If you don't want to upset Mom, you may want to pamper her saying you are doing what you can.
But if Sis comes to make you mentally ill, don't give in. She would not understand why it is about mental illness because she is in it herself.
I am a Christian too. I believe we have to find a way out - not her way but our way or God's way. We need not to respond meanly but we can respond gently and ignore her mean comments or attitude. You have to stand on your ground knowing that you are doing the healthy thing.
You say your a Christian, two of Christ's main teachings were Love & Forgiveness. Did you ever stop to think that maybe your sister isn't capable of doing things the way you expect her to and you should just love her the way she is?
I come from a very large dysfunctional family of people who don't know how to communicate, or treat each other fairly or compassionately. I'm the youngest of 6 and my mother was horrific most of the time....but she was still my mother and in that role, she still deserved some respect. It didn't mean I had to buy in to her insanity. But you can do such in a caring compassionate way.
Your a Christian, but instead of following Christ's teachings of love, forgiveness, compassion, caring...you've gone completely scientific and are trying to fit these relationships into a very neat 4 sided box with perfectly thought out expectations, no surprises, no emotional upset....how do you do that? Have you prayed about this situation or met with your minister for some counseling? You can impose boundaries on yourself and how you choose to handle things and deal with people, but you can't expect other people to do things the way you want them to just because you think they're wrong and need to be fixed....if you keep thinking that way you'll end up losing your family and yeah they may have some quirks, but there still your family. God doesn't let us choose our family, but he does expect us to love, respect and care for the family he gave us....
Just want to add more thoughts.
My pastor did tell his church members that we should be careful not to be hurt mentally if there is real damage. So we need to keep a distance from the people who do great damage to our mental health or physical health.
That said, we are still Christians and need to forgive and love the enemy. Love is the greatest command. Cutting off the "enemy" esp. family is not a good idea. You can pray and forgive and try to tolerate the family. You cannot change the people with mental issues. That you cannot. I cannot draw a line for my sister and tell her if she does not do this, I won't see her. She won't change. What does that get me? I keep a distance so I am not emotionally damaged by her as the old me when I was younger, but I still keep her as my sister. Some distance but it does not mean I cut her off or damage her.... No revenge for sure...
It is hard but we as Christians should try to forgive the enemy in the family.