Saturday, July 28, 2007

My Sister Pretends to Apologize

One of the main reasons I'm sharing this exchange of emails between my sister and me is because she is a slippery fish. Her tactics tend toward the subtler side; her non-apology a work of art. I'm hoping by exposing her tactics that it'll help someone out there who is trying to deal with a similarly slippery fish.

If you're new here, the "Labels" section of this web page has a category of "My Sister" which contains a history of my sister and myself going back to before she was born. The "last straw" event occurred within the email exchange I am now sharing. The first exchange of emails is here. The next parts of the exchange are here and here.

I had never before thought that I would ever ax my sister out of my life. I had assumed that arm's length would be a safe enough distance. The turmoil in my emotions as I was assaulted with my sister's manipulations, lies and smooth words was worse than what I went through with my N-mother. I was perplexed at the time that it was so hard on me. All I can really conclude is that it was because I had never anticipated feeling the need to completely shut my sister out of my life. Being confronted with her willingness to lie so voluminously to me in order to get her way and to "save face" made me realize I couldn't feel safe with her in my life. A part of me was shocked at how willing she was to use covert tactics to get me to comply with her wishes and then to "save face". To tell as many lies as she did in her two emails to me forced me to realize she is a dangerous person to have in my life. I don't know how you feel about liars, but I don't think they can be trusted any further than you can throw them. Good relationships rely on honesty and integrity between parties. I was forced to see that my sister can lie in nearly every sentence when she either wants something from me or feels like she has to maintain her "innocence" when she should be accepting responsibility.

In the past, her self-righteousness was a major tripping point for me as well. She has always been so assured of her rightness in situations where her will clashed with mine that I would usually acceded just because she was surer of her "rightness" than I was of mine. My sister makes high claims to being a pious Christian. This time around, though, her self-righteousness didn't shield her. I saw all too clearly what a liar she is, and I know liar's claims to being "righteous" are just as much a lie as anything else they say.

Without further prologue I now post her "apology"...

My Dear Sister,

I am so sorry that my last response offended you. I apologize for not considering that you would have serious concerns or a moral or ethical dilemma regarding K. I truly never considered for a moment that you would have different feelings than I on the matter and for that I am sorry. I can understand how you believe that I make everything about me because often I do. It is a residual effect of my upbringing that I daily combat. Sometimes though, I fail miserably and sin in this way. Please forgive me.

I hope that with time you will be able to accept my motives in writing you were not how you interpreted them to be. Please believe me when I tell you that my motive was simply to offer you “where I was coming from” so you could have more complete information from which to formulate your opinion. But can I understand your reaction in the light of the fact that you were dreading having to tell me because you said were expecting the worst in my reaction. I know that in the past I have tried to force you into beliefs that you did not hold. I know that I have hurt you terribly because of it. I am so sorry for that. But please believe me that this time I was only trying to be truthful and sensitive and reveal my heart so you could know me better. And I can see how you can read into it that I was once again making everything about me. I was and I am sorry.

You are right when you say that you and I differ in what we believe about sisterhood. Now I understand how you think on the matter and will not be making the same assumptions I have in the past. That you feel I have taken our relationship for granted was a sorrow to me. I am so sorry that I have made you feel taken for granted. Please forgive me for showing you such a poor example of my love for you. I want to learn how to love you in a way that feels like love to you. I know that our differences in temperament and disposition have made it more difficult for us to relate all through our lives. 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.

I can also see that you and I feel differently about relationships. I have always known that you take them very seriously and try to be honorable in your relationships. But I never understood before now that you consider relationships as responsibilities to carry. But knowing that now, suddenly it makes a lot of sense to me why you are thinking as you do about K. I think I get it. You don’t want to burden K with a relationship that you think is unnecessary and you aren’t sure you are ready to enter into the responsibility of a relationship with her either. That you and I think differently about this is not a matter of one of us being right and the other wrong. I think it’s because we have completely different temperaments which cause us to perceive things entirely different. I hope what can change in the future is that we can both feel free to express our perceptions freely. I will work on receiving your input without making you feel judged. I certainly don’t want you to feel that way with me and I am sorry that my last correspondence made you feel judged by me. I have re-read the e-mail I sent and I can honestly say that it wasn’t the intent of my heart when writing it, to make you feel judged for not believing as I did. But I believe you that you did feel that way and so I offer you my deepest apology. If I were to be completely honest with both you and myself, I would have to say that my last e-mail to you was written from the perspective that I was trying to justify my decision and make you see that I wasn’t a bad person for believing that I was doing the right thing for K. That I caused you to be burdened with granting me absolution on the matter is very wrong. I can see why you reacted as you did. I was asking you to give me what you could not...and should not have to give. Please for give me for doing this to you and causing you such distress as a result.

I spoke to K about your preferences on the Saturday I received your first e-mail. I told her that you felt morally and ethically wrong to impose on her life at this time of her development. I told her how you didn’t want to hurt her, P or D [K's adoptive parents] or interfere with her family life in any way. I told her that when she is an adult and able to initiate a relationship with you, that you will be more that happy to receive her at that time. Her response was,“ so she is not rejecting me...she just feels like now isn’t the right time.” I agreed and she was fine with it.

You are right, if I was present at your first meeting I would do everything I could to facilitate you getting to know each other. And now I understand how irritating that would be to you. And you know, I can accept that. I can see how that would feel like pressure to you and how that could cause resentment or at least discomfort. And I don’t want to cause you to feel that way at all. So I can see why you made that request.

Anna, much of what you see in me is true and valid. I am praying that God will make the necessary changes in my character so I am a better person. I hope that you will understand that much of what I say and do that causes you pain is not intentional. In my heart I hold the highest regard and love for you. In our youth you were the nurture that I did not receive anywhere else. I do ask a lot from you because that was the role I have seen you in. But it was wrong for you to have been placed in a position to “mother” me. That was far too great a responsibility for you to have to carry when you were so young and it is wrong for me to hold you in that role right now. Please forgive me for burdening you with my emotional needs. And please do not read sarcasm into that statement. In fact, nothing I have written today or on my former e-mail comes from sarcasm. I am sincere in my expressions to you. I have hurt you and I have wronged you and I am truly deeply sorry. Please forgive me.

I Love You, D
My next post will contain my reply to this letter. I will let you know now that I did not address all that I saw in this letter when replying to her. I trashed several drafts of a response and ultimately decided not to go point by point with her because it would be wasted effort. She had made it clear she was in no way willing to accept my point of view unless I was giving her what she wanted. After I sent her my reply I sat down with her letter above and did go point by point as to what I saw in her letter and have kept that for myself. It helped me to stop mulling the letter over in my mind once I was able to thoroughly respond to it. I will share that private analysis of her letter with you after you read what I sent to her. Since you are not aware of all the history between me and my sister my private analysis of this letter will help you better see what I did. Sister labored for almost two weeks on this non-apology letter. So I know she deliberately chose every word of it. Therefore, I hold her to every word of it.


Anonymous said...

Re lying: A person who lies to distort reality is at war with him/herself, so how can such a person ever be an agent of harmonious living?

We are all presented with choices and sometimes we are in no-win situations, for example having to choose between say, lying to the gestapo or handing over innocent Jewish people to them. In this example, I would choose the lie as the lesser of two evils and my conscience would be fine with that. In this case, there is already a disruption to peace which I am not the agent of and I would not have to deceive myself, that is divide myself.

Anna Valerious said...

People who lie to protect innocent life from evil people (or an evil regime) are not liars, but heroes in my estimation. Your distinction between lies to distort reality (i.e. deceive yourself) and lies to protect against evil are the same distinctions I draw. I didn't in this post because the context makes it apparent I am talking about selfish lying used to underhandedly get one's way. Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

Anna, her letter just seeps with disingenuity and manipulation. She is dishonest and smooth like the great snake himself.