Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Little HIstory about the Distance between my Sister and Me

At lot of years ago, my sister was having the whole family over for the holidays. It was the first time ever for her to be the one cooking etc for the holiday tradition. It was a big deal to her.

Right about that time was when I first started the therapy that related to my sexual abuse by our older brother. When my sister called to invite us to her home for the holiday, I asked her if my brother was coming. When she answered yes, I told her that I would not come because I didn't want to deal with him.

I knew that he would touch me and I didn't want to be in the same room with him, let alone have him touch me and I explained that to me sister. Telling her that I would confront him about his behavior if he wouldn't leave me alone. She told me that wouldn't be a problem and that my family and I should come.

Well, it was a problem. My brother did just as I had predicted he would. He came up and put his arms around me and tried to kiss me. When I asked him to leave me alone and keep his hands to himself, he kept insisting and wanted to know what my problem was. Even when I tried to get him to leave me alone, telling him this was not the time or place to discuss it, he kept insisting.

So I took him outside and told him what my problem with him was. He did the usual denying and manipulating. Trying to make it all my fault. But that wasn't the real problem. It was my sister.

She was furious with me for saying anything at all. Even though I had told her that I could no longer deal with his intrusions into my space and that I would confront him if he insisted, she felt it was my fault. I had ruined her very first Christmas dinner.

Months later she moved into a new home with her boyfriend. They had a huge open house to which all of the family was invited. Everyone, that is, except me. I was not invited because I am a trouble maker. The child molesting brother was there but not the victim.

It's probably been twenty-five years since this happened and my sister still has not "forgiven" me. Recently my youngest brother tried to get me to patch things up with her telling me she had a point to why her feelings were hurt. I told him that she is no more offended by this than I am. To her keeping up appearances is more important than protecting victims from offenders. She doesn't care about my feelings at all, only about how it looked at her dinner party. What type of family is it that believes keeping up appearances is more important than protecting others from inappropriate behaviors? As long as she chooses appearances over feelings, I want nothing to do with her.

My little brother asked me if I still loved my sister to which I answered yes. But I told him, being around those people with their backwards set of rules is so destructive there is no way I will ever go back there. Living by those standards nearly destroyed me. As long as she, and my other siblings, chose to live by those double standards we were raised with, I want no part of them.

I don't regret my decision. The behavior of my siblings at my mother's funeral confirmed that we are worlds apart. People are more important to me than anything. Controlling and manipulating and making sure no one gets out of line is what is important to them. It was so clear how toxic my family is that I was really glad that I went. Their behavior confirmed that I had made the right decision.


heartshapedhedges said...

I found your blog from your comment in my blog.....

As a therapist, I say, "way to go!" for having the strength to do what is right, even when it means "losing" your family. Even abusive families come with some good...whether it be certain individuals that you care for, or just the sense of being a part of is not easy to cut the ties, it can be very painful, even when you know they need to be severed.

You are setting healthy values and boundaries for your own family, by protecting yourself.

Im looking forward to reading more of your blog... I appreciated your post on halloween. I am not a victim, but as someone that has worked with victims, I dont see any reason to celebrate on a Christian, I know there are many reasons NOT to celebrate that day. I dont get much support, but reading your post confirmed that I need to stand firm, despite how "cute" others make it seem.


Lynn said...

Yes, RR, just from this story alone, it is obvious that you have done the right thing. What a poisonous environment that would be for you. I'm glad you are not making yourself suffer such a thing. I don't do it, either. I can't tolerate the backward and lying atmosphere of manipulation in my family. Isn't it something how it's always the victim who 'ruins Christmas'? We 'ruin it' with integrity, truth and self respect.

Stacie said...

Good for you for standing up for yourself and protecting your rights and your feelings. Your sisters behaviour is in poor taste to say the least. The first thing that came to my mind, is that she may be a victim too, and just does not have the strenght you do to deal with it or confront it or face it. By treating you as the offender for ruining her party is her way of denying anything is wrong. Just a thought...of course I have no training in this sort of thing or anything like that. I'm so proud of you for standing up for yourself and standing firm!
Thanks for the visit today.

Rising Rainbow said...

heartshapedhedges, thank you for visitng my blog and thank you for your support. While I have no regrets about leaving them behind, I still have some sadness about what might have been. And thanks for your thoughts on halloween. It is a tough time for many survivors.

lynn, there are other things about my relationship with my sister that make it obvious that she is toxic and so are the rest of them. I can tell you for sure that I didn't ever take on the guilt she tried to hurl my way!

stacie, you are absolutely right, my sister is a victim too. And totally into protecting herself from ever having to face up to that truth. The sad part is I know that she pays for that each and every day. She just has no clue what the cost to her is. And thanks for checking out my blog.

jumpinginpuddles said...

having just been in the position of saying no any more we know this place

Tiger Lamb Girl said...

I grew up with abuse and neglect. And while I still maintain a relationship (of sorts) with family members who participated in the abuse and neglect - there are very firm boundaries in place.

Boundaries are so important, and it is something I struggled to 'set' for years. I couldn't have any kind of relationship with them, without those boundaries now.

As for family members who protect the perpetrator and cast aside the victim ----- grrr, I struggle with that because it messed with my head for so many years. While I understand it's a way for those family members to cope with the unpleasantness of the past, I also recognise it was important to take a stand for myself. Because it was obvious no one else would. (that's the lonely realisation -- that you're alone, although, my faith reassures me I'm not really alone in the spiritual sense).

As a Christian, I also don't celebrate Halloween, and often get strange looks or comments from those around me, who do. But I know what it's all about, and I want no part of it for me, my children or any of my family.

I'm glad you've found some peace;).

Rick said...

It is very sad that Christmas is so often the time when the deep pains end up coming out. Christmas is often a time when people, who would not normally be together, are forced to be in close quarters with each other.

I predict that the situation with your sister and your brother wil never be fully resolved. That being the case - forgive, but don't forget (in othe words - continue to protect yourself0 and then focus on the positive people you do have in your life and those nice looking horses you have in your care.

Kahless said...

Ditto to Lynns comment, I think she says it well.

April_optimist said...

Funny how the truth tellers in a family are always the one the family turns on. But we do have a right to set boundaries and when a relationship is toxic to walk away.

martie said...

As hard as it is to leave 'family' behind, sometimes the choice has to be made to do just that....and in your case it is so true. I have found that most families are dysfuncional to a certain degree and we all carry baggage from our childhood for things that were done (or in my case the way I percieved things were done). I say "GOOD FOR YOU"!

Thanks for the visit, please come back again.

BTW, I was raised in a city but love horses!

jumpinginpuddles said...

weve answered on what we decided on life spacings

jm said...

Thank God someone else has done this! we are sorry you went through this but we too pulled away from our family, even our own children for the same reasons, they all continue to hide the truth for appearances sake. We applaud you and now know even more so that we too were right, as were you. It hurt but we can look in the mirror and know we protected all inside this body.

thank you so much for this post


Enola said...

Don't want to repeat what everyone else said - but way to go. Amazing how many family members take the side of "keeping up appearances" at all costs. I'm glad you broke free of that rule. Good job and an inspiration to us all.

katy said...

just to say thank you i know this one well x

arthist99 said...

I could understand if your sister didn't know what happened, but it's astonishing to me that she would be angry at you, KNOWING what happened, and not your brother! What is wrong with some people? I really don't get it.