Friday, May 16, 2008

May 15, 2008 Email Response to My Sister

This was sent to my sister last night, May 15, 2008 @ 17:20 her time.

Those of you who have read many to most of my old posts will recognize I took some (small) pieces of three posts and put them in this email to my sister. I borrowed a concept from my "The Last Straw" post. I also took a paragraph from near the end of my dissection of sister's non-apology letter of April 2006. A dissection she never got to see. I re-iterated a concept I recently blogged on where I make reference to the importance of memory in order to keep from getting burned by a hot stove. This is what engineers refer to as "economy of design".

My sister's words are in black. Mine are in purple.

******************************************

"I do so wish you would tell me..."

and

"Please let me know what I have done..."

Keep in mind throughout your reading of my response...this email is in your inbox because you solicited it. Do me the courtesy of paying attention to what you specifically requested.

That being said...

Dxxxx Lxxxxx wrote:

It has been heavy on my heart all these years that I have offended you. The thought of you hurting because of something I have done is a terrible thing. There is no doubt in my mind that I did something which caused this, but time has not helped me bring about a revelation of the event. I do so wish you would tell me so I could offer you a specific apology directed to the specific pain I have caused you. I would also like to know if there is anything I can do to make up for this offense.

I reject the opening premise of your email. You come to me with this pretense that I did not tell you what you did to earn exile. I see this as you playing a game. You come to me acting like you are clueless about what could have possibly provoked me to walk away which tells me you have utterly justified yourself and therefore won't even look at what I've told you was my real problem with your behavior.

Tell you what, I'll play your game with you for a few moments by giving you a clue or two. I'll just pretend you're dealing with a mental impairment and therefore you need an extra bit of help. Here we go...please pay attention:


Your Apr. 1st, 2006 email was grossly manipulative, you were bullying, you completely rejected my right to hold a differing opinion, it contained at least two whoppers, and you pretended I said I never wanted to meet K [sister's bio daughter] when I said yes, just not now and not in the way you wanted me to meet her (i.e. with you there). I did not even try to hold you accountable for the lies you told because history long ago taught me that you don't own up to your lies. I'm mentioning the lies now because, what the hell, why not? I'm done with helping make the path to reconciliation smoother because you've not taken even one serious step in that direction.


Your first email was bad enough. You were only teetering on the edge at this point. I warned you that if you came back at me with anything other than a sincere apology for these above offenses there would be negative consequences. You had some idea how negative those consequences might be because I referred to how I have dealt with our mother for her behavior. So you had some idea of the precariousness of your position. I even gave you the option of silence which you unwisely didn't take.


Two weeks later I receive what is known as "adding insult to injury". You sent me what could be used as the quintessential textbook example of a non-apology. Mixed in freely with your non-apology was a smelly dose of self-pity, self-justification, more lies, more manipulation and continued discounting of my feelings about how you had treated me. Oh, you pretended you cared. But everything was couched in qualifiers. You gave with one hand only to take with the other.

After the insult of your non-apology, I was done with you. You compounded the original problem ten fold with your non-apology letter. You proved you were uninterested in dealing with things honestly and being fair with my feelings and my right to have a differing opinion without having to put up with your shaming and bull crap. You refused to admit to what you had done in your first email. There was no point in my demanding you also apologize for your second email, so I didn't bother to point out all that I saw in your non-apology letter. You had already proven by your non-apology you were not in the mood to reconcile on any terms but your own.

My main complaints were all put in writing to you. If you have the IQ of at least a pencil eraser you could read the email exchange from beginning to end and see that I explained what I was upset about. (You probably threw all the letters away, right?) I don't think you're stupid. I think you're stubborn, selfish and self-righteous. It looks like you're hoping that by coming to me two years later and pretending I gave you the boot without ever telling you what you did could somehow result in a net gain for you. Maybe I can be convinced I didn't play fairly. Maybe I'll take your olive branch and you can waltz back into my life without ever having to really own your poop. Well, it ain't a gonna happen like that.


By the way, it has been two years, one month. "All these years" is a bit melodramatic. We're not there yet, but, at this rate, I think we'll be getting there.

I know it has been a lifelong struggle for you to love and understand me. We have such varied perspectives on life.

You have benefited from years of me loving and understanding you. As usual you make it all about poor little you and what you don't get from me. What was called for in April 2006, and what is called for now, is that you spend some effort understanding me. And understanding me based on the words I have taken considerable effort to express myself with, not with your dismissal of my words in favor of your addled assumptions about my state of mind. I see you've not put forth your efforts in the direction of understanding me and therefore your words to me here do not assuage my concerns. Frankly, I don't believe you are capable of understanding me because you do not demonstrate the ability to get outside of yourself at all.

The "profound" truths you claim I revealed to you were side issues. The truly profound revelations have gone unexplored by you to this day. I do not struggle to understand you. I understand you very well. Understanding doesn't mean I agree with you, or must capitulate to you, or accept the unacceptable. Love doesn't mean I have to have a relationship with you. You continue to make incorrect assumptions about my state of mind and feelings. You assume you are owed what you consider to be "love" and "understanding". Which, in D-speak, means getting what you want. This email and your April 2006 emails all show that you think I simply don't love or understand you enough. That is not true. And it is not the issue. More on the real issue later.

I know I have always stepped unaware on your sensitive spots and caused you much pain. I am so sorry for that. I hope you can believe that most of the pain I have caused you has been unintentional.

Blah, blah, blah. My sensitive spots. Gee whiz. Yeah. I'm sensitive to being treated like my opinions are not mine by right to hold. I'm sensitive to being lied to. I am really sensitive to when people try to manipulate and shame me into submission. You call it sensitive because it pathologizes me rather than put on the onus on you to behave better. I am a sentient and feeling human being who is sensitive to being treated like doggie doo-doo. So. There ya have it. Own it.

Oh, and saying you were unaware of when you "caused me pain" is no commendation for a future relationship with you. It only reveals your lack of empathy and your refusal to look at any perspective other than you own. Excuse me if I don't want to re enlist with such an inconsiderate and self-involved person. It is no fun hanging out with someone who repeatedly and heartlessly inflicts pain, and then who never will truly admit to what they did. And if I dare to point out what you did I get stone-walling, blame-shifting, shaming, excuses, etc. ad nauseum. Yeah, getting stepped on by you is not fun. If I'm "lucky", you give a generalized apology and that is supposed to suffice. When I do demand a specific apology, I am treated to all the reasons I'm misunderstanding you and not loving you enough and how pure your intentions are. This cycle has been repeated too often. Now you have given this new spin where you pretend I never got specific so you can't be blamed for not specifically apologizing. I still need a truck to deal with all the crap you dish my direction.


Appealing to your 'virtuous' motives is not going to save you. We are not judged by our motives. We are judged by what we do. "By their fruits you will know them." Fruits=behavior. This is because what we do is a true revelation of our strongest motives. In the end, we do what we want to do. To consistently do...and then say it's not what you wanted to do...is just a lie.


You give yourself too much credit when you say you've caused me "much pain". I have not given you that much power over me to cause me "much pain". I have kept you at emotional arms length for decades so you couldn't continue to hurt me with your repeated violations of trust and unkindnesses. Yeah, you've gotten some jabs in here and there. I just took them as reminders that you were not a safe person to open up to.

"Most of the pain I have caused you has been unintentional." [emphasis mine]

Ah, a small confession. "Most of the pain...was unintentional" means that some of the pain you caused was intentional, yet you don't elaborate on when those times were. You only seem willing to openly confess whatever it is I am presently demanding accountability for. You are aware of times you intentionally tried to hurt me...yet, where is your confession of those deeds? Only this general statement that is supposed to suffice for a sincere statement of regret. If you actually came clean on something I wasn't demanding you come clean on, then I could feel like we're getting somewhere. But you won't even come clean on what I am demanding accountability for so I can't begin to imagine you coming clean on something your feet weren't being held to the fire for. Instead, once again, all I get is some non-specific quasi apology. That boat don't float for me.

There were a few things you said to me that I have spent much time thinking about. I saw there was truth in it and I wanted to really give it my complete attention. You talked about my need for you to respond in a certain way for me to really feel validated. This made you feel contrived and manipulated. I can see that. I am so sorry that I did this to you. Not only you, but others close to me in my life.

Okay, glad you got the point. But it certainly is no where near the main issue. Which is probably why you're focusing on it.

I struggled with this reveal of my character for many months before I realized it was a matter of surrender to God. What you identified was real and needed uprooting but no amount of my own effort was going to be able to remove it from my life. It was a spiritual matter that only God could address for any lasting success.

You are saying you realize "it needed uprooting" but there is no indication that has actually been accomplished. Oh, well. Work of a life time, I guess. It really is a tangential issue in my estimation. If you never uprooted this aspect of your character it wouldn't matter to me. It is not what keeps me away from you.

Pull outside YOU for two minutes and see that I was trying to reveal something about me. I was telling you why I negatively reacted to your demands for a more emotional reaction from me. I was explaining my reaction to your behavior so you could know that your behavior was irritating, but nevertheless, it didn't alter my behavior. I was telling you that no matter the pressure you applied, you were only going to get honest reactions from me. That was my point. You've made a much bigger deal of this than you should and you have focused on the least relevant aspect of it. You have been concentrating your efforts beside the point and now pretend it is big so that you can try to convince me you've made big changes. Not working. Even while you are acting like you're granting me a point...I see no apology for it.

I'm going to use the opportunity of your point above to show you something. We are up to your second non-apology for this behavior.
In your Apr. 14, 2006 letter you non-apologized for this behavior of yours by saying:

I know that when I am excited I want everyone to get excited too. What I didn’t know is how it made you feel when I do that. I am so sorry.

Here is how I had described this behavior:

"Thank you for pointing out what a failure I have been as a sister because I didn't "enter your joy". Never mind that it would have been disingenuous for me to pretend to feel something I didn't feel. Frankly, I'm just about never enthusiastic enough for your tastes. Here is a newsflash about me: I am honest in my reactions. I fake nothing. I would not be able to count the times when I have expressed honest enthusiasm or praise about something and you keep poking me and prodding me to ramp it up. I always get the message: I'm not emotional enough for your tastes. I don't "validate" you the way you think I should. Why can't I be myself and be allowed to think that it okay for me to be me? Why is it always about you and what you want and need? Why are your needs always top billing, yet when I, in a rare moment, express my need for some respect for my feelings and I get slapped around? Why are you fighting?"

In your response you completely re-framed the description of your behavior. You didn't acknowledge its manipulative, coercive aspect which was my complaint. You put your behavior in terms that would almost make it kinda adorable. It's just you being excited. Oh, okay. How cute. You are doing nothing worse than wanting to have everyone join your Happy Parade. You follow that re-description of your behavior by apologizing for my feelings about you doing it. Either that, or you were apologizing for only trying to get me to join your harmless Happy Parade. Whichever you were apologizing for did not address what I took issue with. It was not an apology for the behavior I had described. You re-describe the behavior and then apologize. Uhh, uh. Not gonna let you get away with that. In this latest email you still aren't apologizing for doing it. Just so ya know. Like I've already said, this point is beside the point of what you are being held to account for by me. I'm just using it to show you what is obvious to me when I read your words. You are a virtuoso at giving non-apologies, but I can't be baffled with your bull anymore.

Which leads me to the most profound truth you shared with me.

[yawn]

You grew tired of me talking about my damages from childhood and asked me if I had so much knowledge...why was I so stuck ( D's paraphrase).

You're doing it again. Your paraphrase sucks. Then you take your suck-y paraphrase and fashion your case for revelation and reformation around it. Let's go back to what I actually said:

"I will have a relationship with you someday.....someday when you grow up and are willing to take responsibility for who you are and what you do and the decisions you make. I'm am weary to the bone of hearing you give yourself a pass on everything by blaming your childhood. It is looking ridiculous for a 40+ year old woman to be blaming anyone but herself for what she does and who she is. When do you start to take full responsibility for these things? I'm beginning to think never."

I did not say anything about you having "so much knowledge" about your past. Neither did I say you were talking too much about your childhood. Your paraphrase neatly dispenses with the nut of what I said. What I pointed out is how you use your proclaimed childhood damage to excuse your bad behavior. That was the revelation. That was the point. You skirted it in April 2006. You are still skirting it.

Good question and one I could not in all integrity ignore. So again I asked God what was up. I learned from Him that going back to the places of pain, the roots of weak character, is only the beginning. It is the starting point, not the completion of the work which needs to be completed. Knowing these roots is essential for surrendering them to God who is the only one who can heal and restore my character. He was showing me these things not so they could be my "truth", but so I could give them to Him for healing. Needless to say, this has been a process. But thanks be to God, "He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it."

Now, here is the center of your attempt at diversion. You re-framed my words, then used the re-framing to simply give another plug for your favorite brand of Christianized navel-gazing. I've heard all this from you before. This is no new revelation you are presenting. You are recycling in a different context and slightly different wording the exact same concepts you've been hawking for years now. This falls flat. You have gotten no where in convincing me you've had any kind of "profound truth" revealed to you. You've simply done a clumsy repackaging of your favorite flavor of Christianized psychobabble.

So your two "proofs" of change only serve to prove you've not changed in any way that I can see. Nothing that would make me think you are safe for resumed interaction. This is a real pity. I would have hoped two years would have given you time for some real introspection. But all I see is that you've waited and hoped that time would minimize my memory and determination. You have thought you could devise a way to pretend to grant me some points even while you get to hang onto your self-righteous belief you really didn't do anything worth having me walk away from you for.


Here's what I think. I think you think that anything short of a cataclysmic event would not justify my ending our relationship.


You look around and don't see anything you think amounts to a cataclysm, therefore you don't think I'm justified in my decision. In your opinion you didn't do anything you'd consider a big deal as shown by how you have minimized all my primary complaints to nothingness. You don't see anything reaching to the level of deserving to have your sister walk away from you. I believe this thinking is what allows you to come to me with your false premise that you are dying to apologize if you only knew what you did.


What happened two years ago is what I call a "last straw" event. It was not the hugeness of the event. It was the sameness. More of the same piled higher and deeper. The weight of the last straw was enough to break the proverbial camel's back. It is not because the straw is heavy or HUGE. No, it is because of its sameness piled onto all the other straws just like it. There is a limit to how many straws anyone can carry on their back. April 2006 was my limit. That is what happened. It wasn't cataclysmic for you, but it was for me. It was the event that shocked me into seeing that nothing was different. The past was fully operational in the present.


I can also liken April 2006 as the end of the "Chinese" water torture that has been my life with you. One, two, three drops of water on someone's forehead causes no damage. Many drops can drive a person insane. Interestingly, what causes this torture method to work is when there is no predictable timing to the drops. The unpredictability...the inability for the victim to anticipate the timing of the next drop...is what drives a person to the brink of insanity or beyond. My life with you and Mom has been like a Chinese water torture. Drip, drip, drip. Never knowing when the next drip would hit. You look at April 2006 and think, "For Pete's sake, it was only one drop of water!" In the context of my history with you, for me it was the end of a long series of tortuously unpredictable drips. It was the last repetition of the same type of thing I was willing to endure.


I have left crazy-town.


I did explain this concept in different words and more briefly at the end of my last letter to you. Maybe the explanations above will help you understand the point a little better.


Because I have a working memory that tells me that someone is crapping on my head yet again, I am justified in removing myself from the situation which made it easy for me to be shat upon. History tells me that it will happen again because intelligent people know that history repeats itself. At the very least, history rhymes. There is no law in heaven or on earth that tells me I have to sit still for someone who likes to occasionally take a dump on me. I've left the outhouse pit hole. I'd say it was about time. You benefited for over forty years from my patience. You have no right or claim upon further patience from me.


So I thank you for helping me to see that how I was perceiving life and how I was living was not good enough. I thank God that there is victory in Jesus and a life short of that is no life at all.

I thank God for the victory He provides too. I also thank Him that He doesn't need me in your life to accomplish any good work He wants to do. Even though I don't see any evidence that you've experienced some kind of transformation that doesn't mean you haven't. It just means I can't see it. I can't see it because you didn't provide actual proof of it in this email.

In light of our differences of both personality and experiences, I know we will always have things we cannot agree on.

Yes, I am well aware that we have always had things we can not agree on. Thing is...when you disagree with me on something you decide that you deserve and desperately want, you get nasty. That is the issue. No two people in the universe agree on everything. Because I know that fact, I don't look for relationships with people who agree with me on everything. Just the important things. Shared core values. You and I do not share the same core values. Which is what led to the conflict in April 2006 and you showed how you are still a bitch when I disagree with you. You are the one who can't be decent when someone disagrees with one of your fundamental and pet ideas or stands in the way of something you think you're owed.

But please do not use it as an excuse to stop loving me.

Oh, please, stop making it all about you. Whether or not I love you is not the issue. The issue is whether or not I have to take your garbage when you decide to dish it out. I don't. You are still refusing my right to kick the people out of my life who like to occasionally take a dump on me. Just because you were squeezed out of the same birth canal I was doesn't give you special rights to my life or special claims on my affections.

Please let me know what I have done because I want no offenses to be between us any longer.

Once again you threw at me your false premise in this short email of yours. Your false premise makes me the bad guy. I don't appreciate you coming to me two years after the fact and setting up the basic premise of your email by covertly attempting to convince me I'm the bad guy. You are a master of blame-shifting. You reveal by this email and your two emails of April 2006 that you are highly practiced at your game. That fact, as much as anything else, convinced me you are an unsafe person to deal with. You lie by omission and commission in nearly every sentence. This tells me that, when you want your way, the truth is no obstacle to you. I choose to not deal with practiced liars.

I do not hold any illusions that we will go back to being close.

See, this is one of life's sad little realities. I don't remember ever feeling close to you. I could never trust you enough to feel close. Too many times I would feel you tear at my flesh with your cruel words and sneaky deeds. You have never truly come clean on even one thing you have done against me. Ever. The very few times I tried to get some confession from you for what I had absolute evidence that you did you would sneer and rage at me. I can still see your haughty bearing as you utterly trampled my right for justice and mocked my inability to get it. I learned it was worse than fruitless to confront you with your misdeeds. You would compound whatever you did with very cruel words and abuses. And you would absolutely refuse to admit to anything. It is still true to this day. You've learned to use subtler tools than rage and overt verbal abuse, but the end result is the same. You refuse to take responsibility for what you do.

In our young adult hood and beyond, I quietly moved on. I would give you as much of myself as I was willing to give even though you often subtly indicated I was falling short of your expectations of me. What I gave you was far more than you deserved. The thing you never give me credit for is how I didn't hold the past against you. I didn't live in pain or anger. I didn't keep seeking justice and accountability from you. I kept trying to believe you were a better person. I didn't hold resentments. And, yes, there were times I genuinely enjoyed your company.


But what I couldn't do was trust you.

With distressing regularity you would violate the little bit of trust I had managed to rebuild toward you...setting me back to square one over and over. You have been the beneficiary of so much patience that I almost make myself sick with what a kind sap I was toward you. All those unconfessed wrongs of yours kept piling up and directly negating trust. Yet, somehow, the onus has always been on me to make our relationship work even though you were the one persistently violating trust. You get to behave any old way you want to, and I'm the one who is supposed to just cut you slack because that is how I was expected to show that I love and understand you. Perverted and immoral.

Because you have never been willing to own your crap I have never been able to let my guard down with you. So your saying "going back to being close" is another revelation of how little you have perceived things from my perspective. You never look at things from my eyes. Just your own. You have felt close. Great. I can see why. I've been a decent and kind person and have let you get away with all kinds of crap. On my end of the relationship toward you I was having to always step carefully to avoid your wrath and/or cruelty. Can you see why it is easier for me to give it up? What am I really giving up? Only your selfish version of a relationship. Sorry. It doesn't feel like a loss.


I suspect you have many times seen me as being a selfish sister. Since your mid-20s you have been making noises about how much you love me and, oh, how you wish I loved you back. I'm sure I have many times failed to perform the way you thought I should as your sister. But this view of my behavior ignored why I felt I had to keep you at arm's length. Then we have the events of April 2006 which did not happen in a vacuum. There is a long and checkered history you've chosen to ignore or recreate that informs my reaction and my decision concerning you.


Let's look at some non-revisionist history. You frequently used and abused me during our growing up years. Then you ignored me for the most part after I left home. Especially as you reached your late teens. Then, on a dime, I was supposed to start pretending we had always been close. This paradigm shift occurred during your pregnancy.


Suddenly, cut off from the ego-stroking of peers and the workplace you turned your attentions on me. Sequestered in your hiding place you started playing the new role of adoring sister. Since I had left home at seventeen I had been the recipient of your disdain, your superiority complex, your self-righteous "I'll never do what you did" attitude. Abruptly, while you were in your confinement, Mom starts coming to me with statements like this:


"Your sister loves and respects you so much. It is really too bad you don't feel the same way about her. You really need to learn to love your sister."


Blam.

I'm abruptly re-cast in a new role. You couldn't have cared less about me for years. You ignored me almost completely as you flitted about gathering admirers and accolades. This worked for me. I didn't mind being ignored by you because it minimized the times you would make me feel like crap on your shoe. Now, in a twinkling of an eye, I'm suddenly in the role of reluctant and unloving sister. This paradigm has continued to exist up to this day. It is an outgrowth of the narcissistic world view of both Mom and you.


One more time. The issue isn't that I don't love you or understand you. The issue is that I can't trust you enough to let you close. All friendships are based on trust. Without it...friendship can not exist. You have never been a true friend to me.


I know too much time has been allowed for festering of pain and old wounds do not heal easily.

You are projecting here. I am not sitting around with "festering of pain and old wounds" that "do not heal easily". I have moved on. I am not festering. I am not angry. I give you nary a thought. Without you in my life you can not continue to re-offend. Therefore, all wounds just close up and make a nice, neat little scar. People can easily live with scars if the scars are not too extensive. Scars just prove a wound once existed. Scars actually aid functionality because they are what is left after a healed wound. Wounds impair function, scars allow function to return. Scars can remind us of a past event, but they don't impede going forward into a good life. I have minimized the damage by cutting contact. You can't create more wounds so I function very well, thank you very much.

This line of my thinking is one of many places where you and I differ. While I don't condemn looking at the past, and I don't think looking at the past is necessarily a sign of staying in bitterness and anger, I do condemn using the past to justify mistreatment of others. I do not do that. You do that. As the saying goes, those who refuse to look at the past are condemned to repeat it. I have finally learned from the past with you and Mom so I can have a better future. It is working out very well for me. I am all for looking at the past in order to learn from it and move on. Which is why I'm not sitting here, as you presume, wallowing in "festering pain" and "old wounds". Far from it.

Sidebar:

You could choose to believe that I am mistreating you now. I suspect you feel very sorry for yourself over what I have said (2 years ago) and am presently saying to you. This is not mistreatment. You are experiencing at long, long last the natural consequences of your persistent behaviors. You're finally reaping what you have sown. You are finally having to deal with some truth where I'm concerned. Truth you pretended you were looking for. Well, I'm sure you weren't asking for as much as I'm giving you. Like trial attorneys say, "never ask a question you don't know the answer to." I have carried this load of truth all by myself for decades. It is rightfully yours to carry. It is high time to have your conscience loaded with its rightful due. I'm being kind by assuming you have a conscience. Even after you've read all this letter please know I have greatly spared you. I could say ever so much more truth. I am taking pity on you. So, if you come at me again with more silly games just keep in mind that my barrel is still loaded. I have taken mercy on you at every step. You would do well to recognize this fact rather than accuse me of being unnecessarily cruel. You are still not even close to carrying the full weight of your guilt. I am not anxious to force it on you which is why I hold back. Act wisely and I will spare you. Silence is likely the smartest way for you to proceed. I am far from demanding full accountability from you. Don't push me.


End Sidebar.


A working memory is important in order to avoid repeating past mistakes. Memory enables me to know that the stove is hot so I can avoid burning myself repeatedly. I am simply avoiding getting burned. That is sensible and right. No one has the right to demand I keep near the hot stove and occasionally touch it so it can burn me. You have no right of ownership on my life. No right to demand any little thing of me that you expect I owe you. . I have a working memory and I'm not afraid to use it. Sorry it is to your detriment.
No right to expect I keep you close so that I get repeatedly burned

I am simply requesting an opportunity to make amends to my sister

That opportunity was afforded you two years ago. You are simply refusing to take it. It is not my fault you refuse to do so.

whom I dearly love.

What you call love is simply hunger. You know nothing of love for you have relegated it entirely to the realm of emotion. To you, love is a hunger, and a warm feeling of satisfaction when fed. One way this is revealed by you is when you described your relationship to me as being like a child to a mother...as you did in many conversations in the two years prior to our estrangement and then repeated in one of your April 2006 letters to me. I found it curious when this theme of yours started popping up in conversation. It was a new theme. It began in 2003. Time eventually revealed the purpose of this new refrain of yours.

While I'm sure I was supposed to be flattered to be described as a nurturing mother all it does is underline the completely out of kilter relationship we've had all our lives. I was assigned to do the nurturing and loving. You got to decide when I needed to give you whatever nurturing or validation you felt you had the right to expect from me. Your description actually reveals the utterly selfish way you have interacted with me. This relationship structure ignores my person hood.

It ignores who I really am.
It ignores the fact that by virtue of birth order alone I was always the one held ultimately responsible for you. When you decided to shirk your responsibilities as a kid (which you did frequently), I was the one held to highest account by our witch of a mother. So I was always picking up your slack just to keep the harridan off my case. Not because I was "mothering" you. My punishment was worse than yours when we caught flack for your irresponsibility. It was worse if for no other reason than it was supremely unjust.

My presence in the home was a very large shelter for you. You have freely admitted this time and again. Yes, I protected you. Much of that protection was because of Mom's unjust system described above. Some of it was because I hated seeing you get clobbered so I wanted to help you learn how to stay out of trouble. I was a shelter for the first 14 years of your life. A shelter I was never afforded. You felt the full brunt of Mom's wrath after I left home because she could no longer deny what a slacker you were and how much your ass had been covered by your over-worked and over-used elder sister. Yeah, that hurt, I'm sure. But a certain amount of the flak you took was yours to take.


My life as the eldest child was very difficult. You will never know how difficult. You only got a taste of it because you never had a selfish, lazy little sister to deal with. My life at home was difficult enough simply because of the selfish, abusive mother we had. But my burdens were greatly added to because of you taking advantage of Mom's unfair system of government. You took advantage of me and my position of responsibility for you that far exceeded what should have been demanded of me. You totally exploited this system. You have always liked this unfair system and used it to your own ends. I know this because you've perpetuated this system long after we left our childhood home.

Whatever abuses you suffered after I left home pale in comparison with what I endured from my earliest moments. The rejection and anger which Mom focused on you at age 14 were endured by me from before I even talk. As a teenager you were abused. It is a sad and even tragic thing, and I've always felt great empathy toward you for that. Nevertheless, you never really have tried to conceptualize that I endured Mom's rages and cruelties and rejections as a barely sentient human being. I was utterly defenseless. Yet, I survived. And I didn't ever use my tragic early beginnings to justify mistreating you. I was a good sister to you. Which is not something you can rightly claim is true of you toward me.

With this history in the back of my mind I would have to listen to you talk at length time and again about your "childhood damage". You would always talk about your "damage" like you alone had suffered it. You would not include me in your rehearsals of our mother's abuses. It was weird. It felt weird because you would talk to me like you were telling the story to someone who didn't live through it themselves and worse.


It was a telling manifestation of your ultra self-centeredness. You revealed in this that you relish your childhood damage. I don't. Which is why you could so readily act like I didn't go through much worse than you did. I wasn't bending your ear about it. I had moved on. You like being stuck in your childhood damages because it is a one-way ticket out of taking responsibility for who you are. That truth is revealed by how you consistently behave.


So, as adults, you expected that I would join your revamped version of reality that you are the one who had such a hard childhood that you still wanted and needed a mommy figure in your elder sister as you reached middle age. We were supposed to base our adult relationship on this version of reality that pretends your childhood was harder than mine. It was sick. It was twisted. And it only served you. Who the hell was nurturing me all those years as a child? It sure wasn't Mom. It sure as hell wasn't you. How long do I have to be used by you to fulfill your insatiable emotional appetites? Well, if you had your way...forever. But you're no longer getting your way. We're doing this my way.


I have forever resigned from your assigned role for me. I'm not your mother. I never felt like your mother. I was your sister and I treated you decently. I didn't use and abuse you. That just means I was a good person; it didn't mean I was signing up for a lifetime role of servant and mother to you with no feelings of my own that you ever needed to take into account. Mom was the one who long ago set up the unfair system that made you think from your most formative years that I owed you whatever you demanded. I'm sorry as hell she did that. I am even sorrier that you never saw the unfairness of her system and rejected it. You have done all you can to perpetuate this perverted system right up to when I walked away.

It is obvious that to you love is not defined by doing. In fact, in order to perceive your love I have to ignore, discount or explain away the doing. Love is not entirely defined by an action, but neither can it be substantiated by words alone. And if a person’s words and actions contradict each other, a wise person must believe the actions over the words. You insist I must believe the existence of your love based on your words alone. But because these words are often demonstrably lies and manipulations, because the words don't line up with your actions, then I can find no assurance whatsoever in the words.

I will close this here as I'm sure you've had enough. I'm sorry I am not open to re-establishing a relationship with you based on your words in this latest email. I do not expect a reconciliation between us. You are not willing to come clean; I'm not willing to accept less. And now, with you continuing your baloney two years after the fact, I'm scratching my head wondering what would ever induce me to trust you enough to let you back into my life.


I am sincerely hopeful your life is going well. I also hope that you will expend your energies on treating others more unselfishly than you've treated me. You can prove to God you're changed by treating others well.


Sincerely,
Anna

27 comments:

nocaster said...

Anna,

I must admit I didn't read the entire thing, I stopped at the pregnancy.

Your letter cuts to the issue like a double edged broadsword. Just as your sisters words are eerily similar to those of my father, I could cut and paste your reply in response to his letters. The dialog between both of you is so familiar.

I just wanted to comment on the uncanny timing of your blog posts this week to that of my own life. I posted on Monday that my NF liked to hang up the phone on me. Oddly, this exact thing happened to me that very night. The constant dripping of the Chinese Water Torture is such a perfect analogy. That event on Monday night was the turning point of my life where I have decided to go NC with my father forever. I don't say that lightly and it has taken years for me to get here. However, I feel a calming peace in my heart that I have never felt before. I feel liberated and this site, along with a few others, has given me the insight and strength to deal with this.

Keep up the good fight.

Anna Valerious said...

Wonderful news about your decision, nocaster. It is happening at the right time in the right way if you are experiencing "a calming peace" about it.

All the best as you move forward!

Anonymous said...

Anna, this is brilliant. Thank you for posting it. You are excellent at examining what exactly lies beneath those good-sounding words.

We too have been inundated by NFIL and NMIL bleating that they don't know what they did, don't know why we have done this, they forgive us (!), why don't we forgive them. Well, they have at least three letters spelling out exactly the minimum they did and what they need to do to make it right. And we really included only the minimum, and in very nice terms. We were way more gracious than they deserved. (As you might expect, none of those things were addressed.)

But in our case the NILs bleat that they can't remember because they're old now. Baloney. They remember enough to "forgive us?" I told DH that if they remember enough to blame us that we must stand firm on the NC.

Other members of family have tried to get in on the dance claiming that NILs can't remember what they did, so what's the point. Wow, how convenient "forgetting" is for an abuser. We told them no, repeating that if they remembered enough to blame us, then if we restored the relationship were were just in for more of the same behavior, so no way.

(BTW, there is no official diagnosis of any Alzheimer's or dementia. In addition, while they are using "old" as an excuse that they "forget," interestingly enough they insist they are well enough to live on their own, and they even travel often. They are well enough to do what they want to do.)

Anna, thanks again for sharing your letter.
Renewed

Anonymous said...

Anna, I've read most everything you've posted recently regarding your sister and emails - you have referred to her behaviors as narcissistic, but do you think she has NPD??? I have really appreciated that you chose to share this post (tell your husband that at least one and I'm sure more of us do want to read it all) :) For me, I am really interested in knowing if you feel your sister is NPD or just the result of your mother being NPD. My exH is NPD and I have a 16 year old daughter that sounds too freaking much like your sister and I have feared, truly feared she could be NPD too... my mom recently commented that she (my daughter) is very much like her father, only doesn't have the sauve to hide her selfishness and meanness...

In a previous email you sent me that you said, "Children of narcissists are forced by the NPD parent to make a choice between siding with evil or repudiating it." - soooooo... is your sister (and perhaps my daughter) siding with evil - or are they NPD as well????

Sharon

Anna Valerious said...

you have referred to her behaviors as narcissistic, but do you think she has NPD???

I haven't been definitive on this about my sister. I have been truly conflicted as to the level of her narcissism. There was a sharp turn back into the narcissism of her youth back around 1998 or so. I have described that elsewhere. Her behavior has steadily worsened since then. There is ample evidence that what caused this regression into her youthful narcissism was her introduction to Christianized psychology. Unless she repudiates this psychobabble (which she uses daily to excuse herself and blame others for how she is) I don't see her getting anything but worse. She may well end up full blown NPD before she's done.

In a previous email you sent me that you said, "Children of narcissists are forced by the NPD parent to make a choice between siding with evil or repudiating it." - soooooo... is your sister (and perhaps my daughter) siding with evil - or are they NPD as well????

I think my sister has found a way to side with evil without admitting to herself that is what she has done. She used to go to a lot of effort to try to point out how different her behavior was from our mother's. So, in my sister's mind, she thinks she isn't evil because she operates differently than my mother does. It is a mind game she is playing with herself. I do believe my sister is surrendering to evil. But it hasn't been a straight line. She did, for a period of time, seem to really fight against her selfishness. Her ten year health issues and large weight gain forced her to deal with life differently. No more supply coming from her looks. Little energy for game-playing due to health issues. When the health issues largely resolved she started heading back to her old persona. The health issues resolved very shortly before she was introduced to the Christian psychology gambit.

Anyway, your daughter is too young to know if she will remain as she is. Life may throw her enough experiences and curve balls to pull her up short and enable her to see things from an unselfish perspective and make a course change in her life. Who knows. Don't give up. Considering my sister's age (44) I don't expect her character to be any different 20 years from now. At age 16, had there been proper intervention my sister may have chosen a different course.

I don't know really what to tell you other than ... don't despair yet. Sixteen is very young and there is still some plasticity of mind for the next 10 years or so that can allow for future changes.

yes, i'm angry. said...

wow. wooooow. WOW.

i'm more than a tad bit jealous of your ability to say what you need to say, and without giving them any ounce of ammo to work with.

this has come at a very needed time for me, as well. nsil has opened the door for nmil to squeeze in with a jab or two recently.

we're changing our numbers. blocking emails. anything we can do short of a restraining order. would if we could, though.

thanks so much, anna. amazing defeat over the "sister", from beginning to end.

h.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anna! Yes, I believe there is hope for her - or I am in denial because the thought of it hurts me so much - but regardless, I am committed to doing everything I can to help her until the day comes I am no longer able to do so. She is right now going to counseling - she does NOT like it and expresses this verbally and often won't say much in the sessions, but she does GO! And she has the ability to rage and throw a hell of a tantrum and so far, I haven't had to drag her in there kicking and screaming yet!

At our last session, the subject of her father's sexual abuse was discussed - she would not say a word, but she did agree to at the very least allow me to have her older sister discuss it with her.

For the most part, she has viewed her father (this coming from our counseling sessions) as normal - sure he can be violent (threw a pan of hot grease at her), but she just thought that was normal. Her counselor says she suppresses a lot.

So I won't despair yet and I will move on in hopes of helping her.

Thank you, Anna...

Sharon

Writer in Washington said...

Wow, I think I would have been much more succinct. "When you take responsibility for all you have said and done, and when you do something to correct all the garbage you've spread, then, and ONLY then will I consider a relationship of any sort with you." :-)

Anyway, she can't say again that you have not told her why. Good job.

Anna Valerious said...

WiW,

Yeah, most people would be more succinct than I was and that would be a good approach! Most of what I said I've never gotten to say to her. It. Felt. Good. I finally feel like I've said my piece to her. If she comes at me in the future I am sure I will have little to nothing to say to her. If she goes off the handle on me and starts getting nasty I have a plan in my back pocket that won't require me to say more than about ten words. It will shut her up til kingdom come.

Anonymous said...

"I have left crazy-town."

This, to me, sums it all, is the crux of everything. It's all that matters.

Going no contact is the only way I was able to deal with the N in my life. It felt great, still feels great, and their impact lessons on me each day.

Your letter is a masterpiece of surgery, you've opened the interior of the N-mind quite skillfully. And they think they are too clever, too smart for this.

Everyone who deals with an N should read this to see how their very little and insignificant brains work. Once you understand, you can kick them to the gutter, which is where their evil belongs.

Thanks, Anna, thanks a million times over. May all Ns eat Sh** and bark at the moon. :)

Anna Valerious said...

Also, an important reason why I spelled things out to my sister in long form like this is for the benefit of ya'll out there. I was exposing her, not just to her, but to all of those who would read her so-called conciliatory email and wonder why I am being so recalcitrant. It is all spelled out in black and white. It is also a way for others to fashion in their own minds their defense against the Ns in their own lives. Even if that defense is only in the realm of each person's thoughts. Many of the commenter's have marveled at how similar my sister's words are to what they've heard from the Ns in their lives. What I said to my sister is applicable to all the low-life Ns each of you are dealing with.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, sometimes it is good to be succinct - and sometimes it's good to say it all! I appreciate you verbalizing your thoughts - sometimes I have a hard time putting words to explain how the evil affects me - your words have helped me.

And I will always marvel at how, even though there is huge differences in people, if you have experienced an NPD, it's like a frigging cookie cutter - the names, dates and places may be different, but the evil acts are the same!

Sharon

Writer in Washington said...

Oh, I meant no criticism of what you said. I've often wanted to send something similar but the problem is, if I ever really got going I would write a book. :) It irks me to no end that they are always so "clueless" about what they've done and so quick to jump on what you've done (or didn't do) to them. Its also very annoying and frustrating that almost everyone takes the attitude that a relationship is owed to people. Relationships are supposed to be mutually beneficial. If they aren't, then what is the point???

Anna Valerious said...

No worries, WiW, I didn't take it as a criticism. I just took it as an opportunity to explain my motivations a bit more.

Its also very annoying and frustrating that almost everyone takes the attitude that a relationship is owed to people.

Yes, I agree. It is one of those almost invisible expectations most everyone operates from; it is one we grow up with and never "fact check". An unseen underlying assumption. Once you can identify this expectation as 1) existing 2) as being false, it is much easier to deal with people on this subject. I have less and less use for people who go through life living out memes and platitudes with their brains in neutral. Their opinions of my decisions on things don't bother me anymore. If they can't be persuaded to consider the illogic of their assumptions I'm happy to leave them with their bad opinion of me.

Anonymous said...

That's a great e-mail Anna. I'm a huge fan of your writing abilities :)
But this sure would shut her up....for another year or two at least hahaha.

Thank you for sharing. You are a wonderful and generous person.

Nancy

Naive No Longer said...

Anna,

Thank you for sharing this.

You responded to WIW:

"Most of what I said I've never gotten to say to her. It. Felt. Good. I finally feel like I've said my piece to her."

I, too, after having been no contact with my mother for about a year, recently had the opportunity to say to her everything I had wanted. And like you . . . IT. FELT. GOOD. Only I did it verbally - over the phone. Which is HUGE for me.

It mattered not to me that it would be falling on deaf ears. It was the truth and it was said out loud finally. Nobody ever DARES tell my mother the truth. It was MY TRUTH of my life at her hands. I finally found the strength and the voice that I never had. And it felt good. Like you, I feel like I've finally said my peice to her. And I was surprised at how "good" and "right" it felt to do so. I feel at peace and like I have closed a door with the act. I wasn't expecting that - but it was a turning point for me. A sort of a rite of passage into adulthood by one who is no longer afraid of 'mommy'. I am now free of her in a way that I never dreamed would be possible. Hallelujah!!!

As for one of the motivations for your thorough response to your sister being for the benefit of us - your readers... thank you. I know that this is helping many of those who are still groping their way through the fog.

Poe said...

I read it all, and I will re-read it tomorrow. I find it hard to comment this one - your insight, your way with words make my attempts to say something meaningful meaningless.

But please do not use it as an excuse to stop loving me.

That one... that one...no, that one is too much

But I have one question. I have read all your posts and there is one thing I can't understand. Your sister is not stupid. Doesn't she know that you have this blog? That her emails will be publically exposed and scrutinized?

Ruby said...

Ooooooh, thank you to you all, to Anna and to all those who left comments. I went non-contact with my N 'mother' in the fall of 2008, and have struggled intermittently with my decision to do so ever since. (Residual 'Catholic guilt' and badgering emails from family members haven't helped).

I read and learned and thought and talked until I thought I had it all figured out, layer by layer, until I reached the core of the onion, and got stuck there, that core being: I love this life and it was she who gave it to me. Do you throw someone a bone for biology's sake, and for that gift of life, or not?

Something about this particular post, and the comments on it, has cleared that up for me. The answer: No. I'm free! No more onion tears for me. My gratitude to you all for your sharing.

Margrit said...

>What happened two years ago is what I call a "last straw" event. It was not the hugeness of the event. It was the sameness.>

Change doesn't happen by continually breathing the smoggy air of sameness. We many times refuse to admit the power we have - to change (in our case, leave). Although we can't change the people around us, we can change the relationships. Anna, you give a perfect example of someone who recognized her power and made a change - unlike your family. So often we think we are trapped - so often we are fooling ourselves. I toast your bravery and commitment to living the life we have been given to the fullest.

Ben Franklin:
"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."

We did as we needed to as children to survive. But as adults we need to take action in our own lives, for our liberty.

Ruby said...

Oops. I meant 2004. Sorry, Anna.

enilina said...

Wow oh wow. Thanks for sharing. Your writing ability is truly awesome and a sight to behold. We have been denied our own thoughts and feelings for so long by our N-parents and seeing them in black and white (and purple) is a huge relief.

But please do not use it as an excuse to stop loving me.

That line from your sister's letter continue to horrify/amuse me. Oh the galls of them. They got to have that fix from their supplies and in typical fashion blame you and us for not being the victims of their parasitical needs.

It was a telling manifestation of your ultra self-centeredness. You revealed in this that you relish your childhood damage...... You like being stuck in your childhood damages because it is a one-way ticket out of taking responsibility for who you are. That truth is revealed by how you consistently behave.

D-oh! That is so true of my mom, totally relishing in the suckiness of her childhood and then in the suckiness of her marriage to my N-dad and then in the suckiness of her friendship with women who are all "jealous of" her, and now the suckiness of her disintegrating "relationship" with her parentifed children. Dad was hundred times worse, he even expected his sick and dying mother to serve as hostess while he was visiting her.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've been reading your blog for the last few weeks. I recently cut off all contact with my N-father due to my own "last straw" sort of event. Like yours, it wasn't that it was huge, it was just the same as the garbage he's been dishing out my whole life and I can't deal with it anymore. Your response to your sister is great. Whenever I get the feelings of guilt ( I was raised Catholic as well - jeez ) I head on over here and realize that I'm not alone. Thank you.

Abbey said...

"You talked about my need for you to respond in a certain way for me to really feel validated."

Anna, I wonder if what she was going for with this track was an attempt to imply that YOU need HER to respond in a certain way in this email exchange, in order for you to feel validated, ie she is saying "we both have the same flaws, it's just that I can recognise and admit to mine, and give them to God, so I am better than you."

Maybe this was the only option available to her once you successfully illuminated her behaviour. Her game has been called so what can she do? Oh wait, accuse you of the same.

I am the daughter of an NPD and I've benefited so much from your writings, what a gift, thank you Anna!

Bella Swan said...

Anna,

I too have a narcissistic sister. She is five years older than me and as a child I thought there were times she was great until she had what I describe as a 'personality change'. One moment everything was fine we would be going off to the beach to dip our toes into the sea and she would suddenly be sullen, cold and dismissive. "I'm not going now!" Not nasty at this stage but disappointing and difficult to understand for a twelve year old.

Then our daily life together was punctuated by cruel comments. Whilst I was in labour at age 19, she was allowed to enter the delivery suite (no-body asked me if I wanted her there!) and her comment later was 'you looked like a big fat elephant on the bed'. So much for sisterly support!!!

Another time she told me in relation to her life not turning out the way she wanted that 'she wasn't just a little hairdresser living in the suburbs!!' No at the time that was ME obviously living an inferior life.

Now I can hear people thinking oh that's a bit mean but not so bad and I agree. However, my sister is a master at camouflage she can mimic being sweet and kind and even act out empathy. So it can be very confusing and I have let many comments go for the sake of family relations.

However, I was so angry when she made negative comments about one of my sons in front of other people saying 'Who would love him. He hasn't even got a job', her tone was condescending. I was so shocked that she could be so rude and cruel. I said nothing at the time to prevent others from feeling uncomfortable but let her know via text and she did concede to saying sorry.

(I have never blogged before so standby for next instalment because of work count, I can't tell my whole story at once.)

Bella Swan (Twilight Saga, my Saga).

Bella Swan said...

Follow up from Bella Swan (Twilight Saga, my Saga).

I was so shocked......sorry.

She also asked me 'What my husband would see in me. Why would he choose you?' She strokes his face, neck, hands and looks deeply into his eyes vying for attention. He is very aware and gives her no indication of a flattered flirtation. This has annoyed and hurt me for sometime but again I let it go for the sake of peace. Recently the two of us went out for lunch together and right at the beginning of our conversation she said 'Wouldn't it be be bizarre and amazing if after you are gone that (my husband) and I got married'. She said this with a look of reverie. I was shocked and replied, 'I have thought about that.' Which knowing her as well as I do I had thought it'!! I have metastatic breast cancer so that's the when I am gone bit. My sister has been very supportive and concerned about me so much so at the time I told her, she was too upset to even talk to me and had to go home immediately. I had to comfort her!!!

Anyway you get the gist of our relationship. Now for the piece de resistance. This is my last straw (to use
Anna's metaphor) my can't take anymore so to speak. She left me a voice message to say 'we had such a funny lunch, I hope you didn't think I fancy your husband'. She changed around all that was said and I was flabbergasted. I texted back that was not how the conversation went. It was clear to me what she said etc. Anyway this banter went on for some time with her making extravagant changes tour conversation then ringing my husband (whilst in a total state of crying desperation) to ask if she had ever flirted. He went very quiet and said tell me she rang. He declined at that time to say 'yes' you have flirted because she was so distraught he thought silence said it all. I t has now gone from bad to worse.

Wait for next blog. Ha I am sure there is a way to do this all at once but I have no clue at the moment.
Bella

Bella Swan said...

Follow on from ' He declined at the time....silence said it all'.

My husband told me that a few months prior she had opened the door to him at our mother's house and said some thing to him which he didn't hear. Whilst my mother and I were in the kitchen she repeated to him 'Did you hear what I said? I said my heart beats faster when I see you'. He fobbed it joff at the time and said 'oh that's how all women feel' and it was laughed awkwardly off. I confronted her via text ( I am relatively well at the moment but do not have the energy to address her face to face) and told her verbatim what she has said.

The next day she tried to ring him twice but it was really early in the morning and he did not answer so she left a text, telling him he is a prick and she is repulsed by him and to stay away. I got one saying this is the last effort she will make and she tried to give yet another version of the events and to bring up the fact that I was ill that may have added to my confusion! As far as I know I do not have any cognitive confusion due to a brain tumour!

Bella (Standby for more).

Bella Swan said...

Followed from - 'I got one saying..... I have not got a brain tumour as far as I know'.

I will say her husband is also a narcissist and I shudder to think how that works??? i suspect that's why she would comment on my husband's qualities, empathy, warmth and genuine caring. I guess I can't blame her for wanting that herself!!! However, at my expense as i would have been dismissed and dispensed with as I no longer served a purpose and would have been a serious obstacle to her desires. (Narcissist's instrumentality!)

I am so sad that this has occurred in such a difficult time in my life. You would think that I would know what she is like but in between the nasty comments she appears to be really caring and I do not doubt she loves me and I love her as a sister. I am very fortunate to have a loyal husband who is supportive in every way.

Where do my sister and I go from here? Yes the best option would be to not see her anymore as she has deceived me in the vilest way and I know if my husband had felt the same way about she probably would patted my arm and head said you'll be alright, we're in love it's just on of those things!! You'll find someone else.

It would be a miracle if she acknowledged her lies and deception and cam clean but one thing I know about narcissists is that underneath the cold bravado is a sad, defective feeling person. A person that when caught out will fight tooth and nail never admitting their lies because to admit is to open up the pandora's box- THE TRUTH- of how they really feel about themselves when the mask falls down. That their jealousy knows no bounds and the dark truth is the vast hole inside them brimming with feelings of inferiority, worthlessness and dejection. It is frightening because it threatens to swallow them up!

I find it incredibly sad that some have people this affliction (and it is an affliction) but not as sad a I do for the people who get trampled down on the way to the Narcissist's delusional fantasies.

Bella Swan (Twilight Saga, my Saga).