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Sister Issues

(26 Posts)
SueSocks Sat 04-Aug-18 19:39:52

I have never been close to my sister there is a 10 year age gap between us and we are very different. We were close for a while when her children were young, we live at opposite ends of England but got together when we could. I spent a lot of money on her children when they were growing up (& was happy to do so) and even gave her money for medical treatment.
During the last few years of our mothers life I was estranged from her, it caused no friciton between my sister and myself. However after the death of my mother my niece sent a very rude email accusing me of not caring for my mother and leaving my sister to do everything. She knows nothing of the reasons for my estrangement and she never will.
Since then I have exchanged birthday cards with my sister and still sent her now grown up children gifts of money for Christmas, Easter and birthdays. My sister never contacts me, if I call she will speak, but there is an atmosphere, she will never call me. She sometimes answers my texts. She was recently in a town that is just 5 miles from where I live and made no effort to let me know, other than sending a photo of herself at a local landmark saying, "Look where I have been", this was sent when she was on her way home.
I recently sent her a text to ask how they were, when she replied I let her know that I was waiting to have an operation on my knee and also that I was awaiting the results of some tests for cancer - she has not replied to this message, clearly she doesn't care. I am upset by her lack of a response. Should I cut off all contact with her? Having no children of my own, she is my only family (apart from my amazing husband) & it is hard to cut contact completely , but I no longer have the energy to sustain this relationship where I am the one doing all the texting, calling etc. My cancer tests have come back negative, so I am looking ahead with a really positive outlook & am having physio instead of an op on my knee. She is the only negative part of my life and I cannot get her out of my head. Any thoughts?

SueSocks Sat 04-Aug-18 19:40:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Missfoodlove Sat 04-Aug-18 19:53:23

I was never close to my brother as my narcissist mother made sure we were at each other’s throats
Sadly my brother died suddenly at the age of 51, I hadn’t spoken to him properly since I was 16 and he was 18.
I wish so much I had had an opportunity to talk with him as an adult.
I did try but my efforts were rejected, I think he was too proud to back down and too cowardly to face up some uncomfortable facts.
My advice would be to try one more time without prejudice and see if you can at least meet.
Tell her how you are healthy, looking forward and how you cannot get her out of your head.
Good luck and thank the Lord for a wonderful husband😉

FlexibleFriend Sat 04-Aug-18 21:12:41

Tell her how you honestly feel with no expectations and she'll either respond or not but at least you'll know. I'd do it by letter and only post when you think you've phrased it right. I'd also ask if she feels the same and if she thinks the relationship is worth saving.

paddyann Sat 04-Aug-18 21:19:41

Even if being estranged from your mother didn't cause friction with your sister it may have upset your neice.Its hard watching someone you love pulled down by caring for an elderly parent and a family ..and maybe even working.So try to see it from their point of view.
I've been there,had a sister who abdicated from caring for mum which meant it was much harder on me ,5am phone calls ,stories of how she never saw me..even though I was there and cooked all her food every day and did everything else possible to help her.My OH used to worry constantly about me..I'd guess your neice is the same with her mum.
Tell them you understand how hard it was for them but that there was nothing you could do under the circumstances.You dont need to give a reason ,just show you do care about your sister

OldMeg Sat 04-Aug-18 21:49:40

I wouldn’t bother with her or her children. Just send a card at Christmas.

rubytut Sat 04-Aug-18 22:54:52

It can be difficult to accept when somebody does not want to have contact but it does seem that your sister has made it clear that she does not want to. It must be very sad for you,the more you keep trying and getting nothing back the more upsetting it is going to be for you.

stella1949 Sun 05-Aug-18 00:07:03

I have to a agree with paddyann. Your sister and her daughter may well think that it was very convenient for yout to be estranged from your mother in the last few years when she apparently needed a lot of care. If your sister did indeed care for her, and you didn't, I can see how that would rankle with her.

Maybe if you wrote an apology to her it might help. The fact that she is cool when you ring her, makes me think that she is still waiting for you to address this situation, which is that you left her to do all the care when your mother needed it.

When you say that "She knows nothing of the reasons for my estrangement and she never will." Maybe it would be helpful if she did know the reasons - otherwise this issue will continue to blight your relationship.

Jane10 Sun 05-Aug-18 07:43:00

I think paddyann and Stella1949 are absolutely right. Have a think about doing what they suggest.
If not, just leave it. You can't make people do what you want them to or feel what you think they should.

sodapop Sun 05-Aug-18 07:59:35

I agree with Paddyann & Stella as well. Talk honestly to your sister about all that happened and see if you can reach some rapprochement. I have no blood relatives apart from my children and grandchildren, I would have loved a sibling to share things with.
Although reading some threads in GN it seems siblings are often at loggerheads.

Lisalou Sun 05-Aug-18 08:09:36

Agree with what has been said. I can see how resentment might grow from doing all the care for your mother. Also, was there an inheritance and was it divided equally? That might also cause resentment. Your sister might feel that you benefitted from your mother's will when she was the one who was there for her?

Try talking to her, explain the reasons (you may think that it is best not discussed, but it might help her to understand your motives) and sympathise with her feelings, if this is the case, of course. Good luck. I would give it a last try, but then I am an only child and would love to have a sibling, this may be tinting my view

eazybee Sun 05-Aug-18 08:22:39

What would be achieved by cutting off contact, as you seem to have so little anyway?
I can understand your niece's resentment as her mother appeared to have to take full responsibility for your mother's care. Perhaps you should explain to her the reasons for your estrangement; if you haven't been chief carer for an elderly relative I don't think you can appreciate how exhausting it is.
Your sister is your only relative; I would try very hard to rebuild the relationship however little encouragement you receive.
Is it only now that you are unhappily retired, (your other thread) that you are seeking your sister's company?

seacliff Sun 05-Aug-18 08:36:40

I would write to her. What have you got to lose, as things are now?

She is obviously upset with you. If only you could think carefully and put yourself in her position over the last few years, you might see why she is cool with you now.

Maybe an apology is needed, only worthwhile if genuine. Or an explanation, if there is something she doesn't know, tell her. she's your sister.

Express your love for her, and ask if there anyway you can be reconciled, as you think about her often and miss her. I'd also say that whatever she decides, you wish her and her family health and happiness.

paddyann Sun 05-Aug-18 12:23:45

Can I just add that it appears you texted her with news of your ill health....was that because you think she should be ready to step in when needed? Maybe you have to assure her she wont have another ten years of caring lined up ,she's your sister not the go to carer when it suits .

ContraryMary88 Sun 05-Aug-18 12:30:57

why not sit down and write a letter to your sister rather than text? I’m probably old fashioned but maybe your sister would appreciate a handwritten letter telling her how you feel rather than a 2 minute text?
Im sure the feelings that you have described in your Retirement thread are linked with this thread.

Daddima Sun 05-Aug-18 12:41:30

Could I be even more old-fashioned and suggest you speak to her? Maybe a text or letter first to say you really want to meet, but I think texts and letters can so easily be misunderstood.

Eglantine21 Sun 05-Aug-18 12:49:05

I can see from your other post that you’ve been busy and absorbed in your career and probably you and your sister have only been in touch now and again, birthdays, Christmas, every couple of months maybe. That’s how it is when you’re working full time, especially something like teaching. And it suited you both.

Now you’re retired you have more time. But your sister is living the life she’s been living since she retired and the space for you is still the same, as far as she’s concerned. She has a whole range of friends and activities and you are, I’m afraid, as peripheral as you were when you were working and didn’t have much time. Life has changed for you but not for her.

I had a friend who was very absorbed in childcare when she became a gran. When the children all went to school she was ready to meet up and go places again and was really surprised that I was busy with other things and other people.

Close relationships are forged over the years, with shared experiences, supporting each other through difficult times, rejoicing together when times are good.
I’m sorry, I think it’s too late to wish for that kind of bond with your sister now.

SueSocks Sun 05-Aug-18 12:53:24

I live a long way from my sister ( at least a 4 hour drive) so don't expect to meet up with her that often. We used to visit each other when her children were smaller, probably helped by the fact that I live by the coast. We had regular contact by phone, she has become reluctant to do that now.
I think you are right it is too late to go back to how things were. Thank you for taking the time to reply.

SueSocks Sun 05-Aug-18 12:57:39

Paddyann - not even sure why I told her about the health issues now that I think about it! Speaking to people about these things often helps. Friends have been supportive about these issues, which is great. I wouldn't expect anything from my sister in terms of care for myself - perhaps she doesn't see it that way!

luluaugust Sun 05-Aug-18 13:03:17

No you can't go back to how things were, none of us can, but on your other thread you are saying you are retired. You could have a break near your sister and talk to her face to face this is the only way to resolve things if you want to. You must tell her why you couldn't help with mother which is something that causes a lot of family problems. You don't say if you are the elder or younger sister.

cornergran Sun 05-Aug-18 13:10:43

Sue I can see from your other thread you are managing a huge change in your life as well as these health issues, in my view its understandable that you would want contact with you sister at a stressful time. I'm delighted the cancer testing proved negative, it must be a huge relief. I'm an 'only' so no experience of siblings but here are my thoughts. You did have an OK relationship with your sister, it seems to have changed as her children grew and then again when your mother was ill and needed care. If your sister doesn't understand the estrangement then it is perhaps natural that she and in turn her daughter misinterpret your lack of involvement. Your sister's visit to an area close to you without contact must have seemed strange, but maybe there simply wasn't time or there were other circumstances around it that meant it wasn't possible to include you. If things start to feel awkward with long term geographically distant friends I pick up the phone. It really doesn't matter if I'm the one to do it if the relationship is important to me. So, maybe one day when you are feeling positive give her a ring. Tell her all is well health wise, maybe say you'd love to catch up and if you can be brave enough say you'd like to explain your distance with your mother. Will you be emotionally close? Only time will tell but you will know you have done all you can. Wishing you well whatever you decide.

oldbatty Sun 05-Aug-18 14:38:10

Its a horrible feeling when something like this is turning around and around in your mind. It is obviously significant.

Would you consider seeing a therapist to work through some of these feelings maybe?

Greengal Sat 11-Aug-18 01:31:50

First, I'm so glad the cancer test was negative! Whatever happens with your sister and niece, I hope you move forward with joy!

I agree with the poster who suggested that your niece was probably more upset about how much fell on her mum's shoulders than anything else. I doubt she cares that much about why you were estranged from your own mum, she's probably just concerned about hers. I don't think it was her place to say anything. If your sister had a problem with it, IMO, it was up to her to speak up.

And yes, I suspect your sister's worried that you're now expecting her to help care for you. If nothing else, you might want to let her know you're cancer-free.

As others have said, it might be a good idea to let her know that you would like a closer relationship again. Her reply (or lack of one) will let you know where to go next. If she complains about your not helping out with your mum, I think it would be a good idea to acknowledge that this made it hard for her and apologize for that. But don't try to explain your estrangement - she's too likely to argue or brush off your explanation.

Another option would be to pull back and see if sister moves forward. I'm not saying to stop the exchange of birthday cards or Christmas gifts, but just, perhaps, to stop calling or texting, etc. for a while and see what happens. By "a while," I mean at least 6 months. Perhaps you'll suddenly hear from sis even if it's only to find out where you are.

Which option you choose is up to you, of course. Good luck, whatever you decide to do! And please continue enjoying wife with that great DH of yours!

MissAdventure Sat 11-Aug-18 02:07:09

I think an apology and acknowledgment of the fact that you weren't around to take some of the strain of caring for your mum would go a long way.
It really can be the most difficult of times, and I think you got off very lightly.
Some people would have let bygones be bygones and offered support, if only to help out the sibling.
Maybe that is what your sister feels you should have done?
Clearing the air could be the start of a closer relationship between the two of you.

SueSocks Sun 12-Aug-18 09:47:11

Thank you for all the replies. It has helped me clarify my thoughts & come to terms with the fact that this relationship is beyond repair.
There seems to be some misunderstandings with care for my late mother, she was very fit and healthy until the age of 85, going out every day. She then had a diagnosis of liver cancer and was given just 2 months to live and in fact she did survive for just over 2 months, during this time she was in a very good care home, so my sister was not actually caring for her.
I did visit my mother in the December just after her diagnosis and made my peace with her. She passed away in February. During that visit she showed me more care, kindness and compassion than she had ever showed me in the past.