Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Get in Sister's Face

My sister's last email was infuriating. I had specifically told her I was settled in my mind on this and I asked her to not try to pressure me to change my mind. That was me kindly warning her to not do what she ended up doing. She was judgmental, condescending and a bit freely revising some history that was now proving inconvenient to her case.

Since I don't believe that showing one's anger is necessarily a wrong thing, I responded in such a way that she could not fail to feel mine. I used sarcasm. My sister also looks down on sarcasm. She doesn't think it is ever right to use it. That is because she is somewhat ignorant. Sarcasm can put a fine point on something and deliver the message much more clearly. Even God Himself uses a bit of Divine sarcasm in the last several chapters of the book of Job. Read it. It makes me laugh every time I do. God using sarcasm to make His points to a man who needed to comprehend a reality bigger than himself. God doesn't sin...God uses sarcasm. Do the math.

My next email was pointed. It was also my sister's last chance to get it right. I was giving her one last opportunity to pull her shit together by what I instructed her with in my "P.S." Also, you will probably notice my frequent use of the word "feeling" and "feel", etc. It is because that is the language she speaks. Because I tend to rely on logic and rationality to guide my decision-making processes sister chooses to portray me as emotionless. She hasn't hesitated to frequently portray me that way to my face. She has made it clear to me that she looks down on me for being this way. So I made sure to speak her language. For all the good it did.

Thank you, D, for being gracious enough to allow me to have a different opinion than you on this without having to cast shame, blame and aspersions on me and my views.

Thank you for confirming that K lacks the maturity and perspective right now to have me in her life as you believe that my truthful feelings and reasoning can't be understood by her. My email was anything but rejecting of her. You appear to have completely missed the part where I state that I DO want to meet her. How is my clearly stating I would like to meet her when she is an adult being hurtful? How is it hurtful for me to respect K's adoption? If I can't be truthful with her then what is the point of her meeting me? It seems I'm too hurtful of a person to allow her to get close to. Perhaps you need to warn her off.

Thank you for giving a stark revelation of her inability to discern what is best for her at her tender young age as shown by her continued desire to want to meet Mom and Dad. You have been warning her against them since you two met up. Yet she still thinks she wants to meet them. I see a profound lack of wisdom and maturity which is completely understandable and even appropriate for her age. I am not condemning her. I am simply saying she needs to grow up more before she will be able to make wiser decisions about who should be in her life. I'm willing to wait and see if, when she gains more maturity, she still wants to meet me. I am not being unreasonable or unfair or rejecting. I resent what appears to be almost a deliberate misapprehension of my words by you.

Thank you for making this all about you and what you want while acting like this is only about what K wants. Thank you for not giving any weight whatsoever to my feelings or beliefs. 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?

By the way, I notice you didn't bother to ask me what my reservations were when you were so hurt by my lack of enthusiasm. I knew you sensed my reservation, but I also took note that you didn't ask about it. That told me you did not want to hear a dissenting opinion. I took the hint. I didn't force my thinking and emotions onto you. I gave you as much "validation", or whatever, that I could without being dishonest. I figured if you really wanted to know, you would ask. The day finally arrived. You asked. "Tonight she asked me if you two even wanted to meet her. And you know, I didn't know how to answer. Is that something you would even want?" I answered your question honestly and clearly. And then you punish me for it! If there was only one right answer to that question then you should have told me.

When you signed those adoption papers you forever forfeited any right to hold me to any expectation regarding K. You should be treading extremely lightly here. But somehow you have this idea that you have a right to expect me to conform to your ideas in this matter. Where do you get off? Get out of yourself for a moment here and realize that my decisions regarding K are not your business. You are overstepping .... big time.

What you apparently don't remember about the conversation where you first told me that you'd just met K is that simultaneously you were immediately putting on the pressure for us (N and me) to meet her. Big time. You were not subtle. You were a steamroller. You did not for even an instant seem to pause to think that this new development needed to be handled with at least a little respect that the rest of your family may be in a different place in their heads; that they may need time to adjust. I didn't even get one minute to adjust to the idea that K was now in your life before I had to also take in the fact that this meant, in your mind, that she was now in my life. And N's life. This had a dampening effect on my reaction to "your joy" because, frankly, it was too much all at once. All these friends and acquaintances that I'm being compared to are not in the same position as I am. They are not subject to your expectations in this. Of course they were able to express great joy for you. It doesn't cost them a thing because they bear no responsibility toward K. I could have been much more enthusiastic if you weren't immediately bestowing on me your expectation that I now had to instantly act as if K had always been a part of our family. You made me feel like I had no choice in this matter. It made me pull back. You are grossly unfair comparing my reaction to your friends' and acquaintances' reactions. You are also very unfair laying your expectations on me like it is my job to fulfill them. Like it is your right to do so. You have shown no respect or consideration at all for my thoughts and feelings on this from the very first moments of K coming into your life. Can you imagine for just one minute how that makes me feel? How it feels to receive your angry, condescending rebuke the very first time I do try to explain my feelings? You make me feel bullied. And it pisses me off. I think you should know I don't stand still for bullying anymore. Which is why I'm in your face right now. I hope you can understand my words this time around.

I knew you would not tolerate my thinking regarding K. I have truthfully expressed to you that I am happy for you in past conversations....because I really am happy for you because I knew you were happy. I wasn't begrudging of your being happy. I could completely understand it. I expressed that to you. But, again, it wasn't enough. I withheld any dissenting thoughts and my concerns because I didn't want to rain on your parade. I get NO credit from you at all for that. Only condemnation because I didn't express unbridled enthusiasm. You are asking me to be dishonest. I would have to have had a brain transplant in order to react the way you expected me to. I have been living in dread for this moment of truth. I have avoided expressing my thoughts on this because I felt sure you would react as negatively as you did. I am sorry I was so right about that.

As to your vow to "be silent on the matter". Isn't it telling that you couldn't be silent on the matter before you dumped your negative reaction on me? Your silence will now be filled with your shaming and rejection of my right to hold a differing opinion. Thanks.

I have clear and specific memories of things you deny in your response to me. I see you re-painting the picture in order to make me more wrong. I have a problem with that.

You have preached a good game about how people are entitled to have their feelings and not have to defend them or be judged for them. I fail to see you granting one ounce of respect for my feelings on this. Apparently, it is only your feelings that get this consideration. This respect and consideration for feelings has to be a two-way street or else the relationship is out of kilter and someone is getting the shaft.

Have you forgotten that only a short time ago I called my own mother into account for her over-reaching, her self-centeredness, her unfair expectations, her coming down like a hammer on someone she disapproved of? If I would hold my own mother to account for her treatment of me and mine, what makes you think I'd give you a pass for the same type of behavior? Somewhere along the way you seem to have come to believe there is a commandment that says, "Honor your sister, validate her whenever she wants you to even if it means going against your own convictions, and be sure to grant her expectations." Since I haven't found that commandment yet I'm going to call you on how you're treating me. I'm going to hold you to some account for your unfairness. I'm not going to let you steamroll me with your overt and covert rejection of my position by your implication that I a committing a moral wrong. There is NO moral obligation involved here. This is a matter where reasonable minds can acting like I'm wrong to hold to the opinions I do is simply you attempting to manipulate me. I'm too old, too wise and too cranky to not call you on it.

Here's a thought to carry with you. I don't owe you anything. I don't even owe you a relationship with me. I'm not being cruel here. I am stating stark reality. If you really let that sink in then you will find that I will never disappoint you again because you'll take nothing for granted and you'll have gratitude for who I am and what I am willing to give you. You have been presumptuous. You have assumed that I owe you things that I don't, and this has caused you to trample my boundaries. You feel like you can bestow your unfair disapproval freely and I just have to sit here and take it? You shouldn't feel so secure in your relationship with me that you can feel justified in attempting to shame me and to discount my thoughts and feelings like they don't matter, without consequence. I wouldn't put up with that in a friend. Blood relation is not enough for me to give you a pass on it. There is much more weight of obligation in a relationship between a child and parent. I have demonstrated that I am willing end that relationship because of its toxicity to me. You would do well to keep that in mind. I do not have to have a relationship with you. I choose to. Stop taking that for granted. By the same token, I am even less obligated to K. I don't owe her a relationship with me. It is something I get to choose. It is high time you start respecting that reality.

I do choose to have a relationship with K if she still wants one after she has come of age. It is not an unreasonable position for me to take. No, I don't want you to be present at the first meeting. Why? Because you come on like a ton of bricks. You will be an impediment to her getting to know us because you don't know us. Not nearly as well as you think you do. If past interactions with you are an indication, and I think they are, you will constantly be superimposing your version of who we are to each other and will be preventing any real knowing in the process. We don't need you there to tell us how to think about each other. We need the room to get to know each other without you orchestrating our interactions, reactions and impressions. If and when we have a relationship with K, it will be a different kind of relationship than what you have. You need to grant the space for K and us to get to know each other on the terms we strike up between us. You don't get to call the shots here. You need to back off.

I know you consider yourself very emotionally intelligent. I get the impression you think you are superior in this regard to me. You're entitled to think that. But what I find interesting is that you, even after these many years, do not understand me. You are rarely able to enter into my feelings. You always assume that my worldview, my feelings, should be identical to yours and seem truly surprised when I have to tell you that isn't the case. Then you seem to quickly forget what I've said and go back to misunderstanding who I am, what I think and how I feel. Where I'm concerned, you are not emotionally intelligent. You also have freely admitted that you've never been nearly as good at figuring our mother out as I have been. On the other hand, I have evidence that I have a very good idea of what your world view is and can anticipate your emotional reactions in various situations. (Your reaction to my thoughts on meeting K are a recent case in point. I was 99% sure you'd react as you did. I was hoping I was wrong, but alas, I wasn't.) I think I deserve more credit from you for being able to understand people and their emotions than you give me....and perhaps you need to give yourself a little less credit in this regard than you do.

So, how are you going to portray my position to K? Are you going to emphatically state that I DO want a relationship with her in the future as I emphatically stated it to you? Are you going to assure her of my genuine concern for her well-being as what is motivating me in this even though you disagree with my views? I gave you much you could say to her that would not make her feel rejected, even though you are acting like I have rejected her outright and entirely. That is a false assumption that you seem to want to cling to in spite of what I actually am saying. Why are you determined to think that I am being rejecting of K? What's the game here? If you present my views on this to her as simply me wanting to meet her without you being there you would be misrepresenting the issue. If you can't see your way clear to let me tell her in my own words what my thoughts and feelings on this are then it would be best for you to say nothing at all if you truly want K to want to have anything to do with me. I wait to see how you will choose to handle this.

Your sister,

P.S. Contemplate long and hard before you react to me. If you come at me with more recrimination I won't be open to it. I also not react well to any attempts at self-justification. I'm open to your vow of silence on the matter. I'd be even more open to an genuine apology.
Now began the wait for her reply. Thirteen days it took for her to try to fashion a perfect response. I admit it was an artful effort. It failed spectacularly, though, because I can't be baffled with bull-shit anymore. Notice how I even gave her the option of not saying anything more. If she had just stopped here she would probably still be in my life. But, no, she couldn't keep from saying more. She was so sure of her ability to maintain a "righteous" position by faking an apology. Trapped in her narcissistic world-view she couldn't see the proper path to take. Only looking at the world through her own eyes she continued to be unable to comprehend how things look from another person's eyes. Her loss, my gain. I expended a lot of words to impress upon her that she was in an extremely tenuous position with me. I know she did comprehend that fact. Her next response reveals the ultimate choice she settled upon...that she thought she could have it all. She over-estimated her ability to fool me with her smooth speech and artful lies. She thought she could continue to protest her innocence and keep me in her life. She thought wrong.


Anonymous said...

You are obviously very intelligent and write well. And you are logically correct in what you've written. It boils down to how important your relatives are to you. Yes, your sister is a snotty bitch, but she is your sister. I have mixed feelings about completely cutting-off a family member. It would have to be an extreme case.

From my own experience, it's best to use the shortest most simple language possible when communicating with the narcissist. Sarcasm is a no no.

Anna Valerious said...

My sister is more than a "snotty bitch". I love it when someone outside my life thinks they can determine whether or not I've been fair in my dealing with my family. I think that my sister and mother having access to abuse me for over 40 years was quite long enough. They have been the recipients of a lifetime of my giving them passes and excuses for their bad behavior. I have been too patient. The clock ran out.

Using sarcasm is not a no-no with narcissists if one is determined to let the truth speak and let the chips fall where they may. If you are still wanting to make nice with a narcissist then, yeah, I suppose sarcasm is a no-no. The time for me worrying about my sister's little feelings was over. Finally. I stand by my decisions concerning her. They were well-thought-out and long in coming. I think over forty years of taking sister's shit is an extreme case.

Anna Valerious said...

Kathy describes the stupidity of forgiving a crime in progress here.

"Fact: life with the narcissist continues as ever: whenever she feels like taking a crap on somebody, you're it. "Forgiving" that is just a codeword for permitting it."

I was done with permitting my sister to mistreat me with impunity.

Anonymous said...

Anna, I, too, am through with my sister, after 49 years!! Think of all the damage a person can do in that time! She did it, not just to me, but to the entire family, including her own son.

Sorry, anonymous (above), but DNA does not make me or anyone subject to abuse. I choose who to associate with, and if they choose to abuse me, it's over, I don't care if they're the Pope's sister. N's are vampires. I don't give blood.

Anna Valerious said...

Thank you. Only someone subjected to the predations of a narcissist sibling (and other family narcissists) really understand the damage these people do. To continue offering up a vein for these people to keep feeding just because they can claim being family is a perversion of what family is supposed to be. IMO. Thanks for your comment(s).