Monday, January 9, 2012

Still reeling

I am still reeling from the blows to my heart that came from seeing my sister.  Being with her in person was hard enough, but her bizarre response to my sending her flowers pushed me over the edge.  I had been perilously close to the edge of depression.  I am afraid that listening to her voice mail, one that should have said:

"Thanks for the flowers!  They are so beautiful and you are so thoughtful."

but instead went something like:

"Um, I just got some flowers from you, and...what exactly are you trying to say? (tinge of anger in voice, then the command) Call me back, we need to talk."

Then of course life keeps happening.  I've been encouraging my kids to go to therapy while they were still on our insurance, and they are both taking me up on that now.  This week in fact.

Guess what that includes?  They are going to be dealing with the fall-out from all those years I was trying to give them the perfect childhood according to Christian Book Distributors while dealing with an abusive marriage as well as trying to figure out what was up with my daughter and be both father and mother to my son.  

I was at times a screaming banshee.  I'm not proud of that, but I am proud that I was 1000 times better of a mom than I had modeled to me. I have forgiven myself for falling apart when I did, but that doesn't mean it was any less hard on my kids. Hence the encouragement to counseling by me.  

All that doesn't excuse me from responsibility for the times I lost it (including today, I'm afraid) when the pressure of my life was more than I could cope.  Today, though, was not the best day to be confronted with that old crap.  I knew it had to happen.  I encouraged it to happen.  I just shouldn't have to deal with my old abusive family of origin AND my personal failures as a mother at the same time.  That's just asking too much.

For the first time in years, I am experiencing the same symptoms of depression my husband has been going through.  If it isn't cleared up in two weeks, I'll mention it to my therapist and we'll see about where to go from there.  The logical side of my brain knows that this will pass and I will go on to living my dreams in happiness and contentment before long at all.

One thing is really different though.  It is becoming plain that I will never be loved and accepted in my family of origin.  I though that my oldest sister, with the help of God, was wanting to honestly do "whatever it takes" to heal the rifts.  Now I am doubtful that she was honest.  I don't think she understood the cost, that she would have to give up her bias in the story where she is the hero, mom is the victim and my twin and I are the villains.  She likes that story.  It makes her feel good about herself.

So, what do you think, ifriends?  Should I just break it off for good?  Wondering what other folks out there have done.


  1. I guess it depends on how strong you feel.
    If you aren't feeling up to navigating the choppy waters to see if it is really worth it, it is better to step back and protect yourself and heal.

    And I don't say this lightly.

    I have a sister I haven't spoken to in 14 years. It is very painful. I miss her. I love her. But it wasn't my choice. It was hers. To her and her husband, me, my parents, and my brother are the villains. I can pray. But the only one that can change her mind about us is herself.

    Please take care of yourself. Do something for yourself that makes you happy.

  2. I think in your position I would say to the sister, "As long as you believe I have an ulterior motive, we can't talk. Call me back when you're willing to believe I just want to be friends."

    She may never call back-- but it might, just maybe, make her think. And I would have said what needs to be said.

    That's what I might do. What you will decide to do will be much more informed and thus, smarter. But take it for whatever it's worth.


  3. If I am understanding things correctly, my mom has stopped denying that she threw us out with the elders of the church backing her(rather than the old story she told my sisters that my twin and I "left home") but then justified her action with a strong litany of how horrible we twins were and why we deserved it.

    So, by confronting mom's lie, it just gave her an opportunity to stoke the old, old story about the rebellious, wicked, lying, "drug addict" twins.

    I honestly hate the way the mind works. All those synapses laid down with positive reinforcement when we were young (her giving affection to the oldest/youngest while vilifying the twins) are still there. They are just dormant until something lights them up again. Once renewed as a neural pathway, they are now stronger than before. It's like the opposite of EMDR.

    I guess what disappoints me the most is how Christianity the religion has turned out once again to be clouds without rain. My sister came to me several years ago- I did not seek her out- claiming to want to make things right. She clearly didn't count the cost first, and it has all turned out to be just more emotional abuse to me AND my twin.

    I like your advice, Kristen, but I don't think it is worth trying to communicate with her even to set a boundary. I have to protect my heart. Running up against the family dysfunction (abuse against me is fine, but my teen reactions to the longstanding child abuse- partying, hardening my heart, etc.- are proof that I was/am bad to begin with) and finding out it is stronger than the gospel still is just too much to take again.

  4. I'm so sorry, Shadowspring. I was just this past week writing about the fall semester of my senior year of college - I had developed panic attacks my freshman year but we were able to keept them at bay for the most part. They returned my senior year with a vengeance. I think I had blocked that semester from my mind because I had forgotten how horrible it was.

    I think you're right about keeping your distance from your sister. It's not worth it. My younger sister was always my best friend when we were growing up, but I find it easier now to keep my distance - too much emotional stress, I decided after years of trying to become close again.

    Out of curiousity - are you and your twin sister close now? I hope so...

    Out of

  5. Shadowspring, that really sucks. Maybe someday your mom's true colors will be revealed and your sister will question all her paradigms. In the meantime, I imagine you're going to give up sending flowers.

  6. Rebecca,

    I am closer to my twin than any other of my sisters, but she doesn't spend too much time on the phone. Honestly, she is more hurt than I am, deeply wounded, and even I (unfortunately) have had a hand in that.

    Back when I was full-on fundie, I did my share of trying to convert her to fundamentalism. I am ashamed now of the letters I wrote to her warning her of damnation if she did not stop learning about other religions and return to fundamentalist Christianity. I have of course apologized, but I can't blame her for not rushing to become my best friend after all those years of condemnation.

    She is now disabled with Lyme disease, and I have invited her to come live with me if she ever needs. We have a big house. But so far, that does not appeal to her and I can't say as I blame her. We send her money every month, and I try to stay in touch on her terms.

    Thank you so much for your support, ladies. Today is a better day. I am really really surprised at how much it hurt to face that suspicious mistrust. I had forgotten how unreasonable and unrelenting the condemnation was, or how it stung.

    Family dysfunctions suck.

  7. Sometimes getting an answering machine instead of person can tick me off, especially if I am in an emotionally vulnerable state. And need to talk to a person, rather than a d. tape.



    1. I have pondered what to say to your post, Tragedy, and I am at a loss. I hope flowers do not also tick you off. Have you considered therapy for PTSD? It's really helping around here. Peace and good will, SS

  8. Oh, Shadowspring, I'm sorry about your sister. How long has she had Lyme's? My mother has been taking care of my poor older brother with Huntington's disease - he's 29 and he was diagnosed at 18. He's been bedridden for sometime now. Haha, which is why I have all the characteristics of the oldest child...

    I know my mother, like you, has regrets about the time she lost in the fundamental world. We had always been close with Mama's parents, but during that time they correctly thought we were crazy and we incorrectly thought we needed to convert them, so it was mite awkward! By the time we came out, my wonderful grandfather had already been lost in spirit to Alzheimers. He died this past year, and I know Mama will always mourn those years the locust ate. Grandpa was the best man I knew, and yet my dispicable stepfather would pray for Grandpa to be saved. The irony kills me. If my stepfather ends up in heaven while Grandpa burns, something is fearfully wrong...

  9. That's so tragic, Rebecca. I am sorry to hear of the years your family lost. It is mind-boggling how this religion which is supposed to live by three ethics:

    Love your neighbor as yourself

    Love one another as I have loved you

    Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength

    results in people separating themselves from their neighbors and family members, condemning outsiders to hell by their questionable doctrines, elevating themselves above the community of humanity as specially chosen by God.

    Do they really want to be "done unto" in like manner? No. Is that how they preach that God loves them-at arm's length holding his nose , ignoring and rejecting at worst? That's not what they say they believe about the love of God for themselves.

    It's so effed up. I can't believe it all made sense to me once, not all that long ago. Mea culpa.


  10. My opinion is that you should not break it off permanently with your sister, at least not yet. You said you have had some anger issues. No doubt with all the crap you have been through! But she did want to talk to you despite not being overjoyed to see your flowers. Start there. Apologize for your outbursts and maybe start an anger management course so that people feel safe with you.

    Another thing and this is important, do not try to enlighten her to your mother's dysfunction. She needs to work that out on her own. She may interpret it as your trying to form an alliance, rather than rebuild a relationship.

    I had to cut ties with a brother, a truly bad person and one of those horrible hypocrites of the church. He is leaving some damage in his wake I can tell you. But not in my family. He's out.

  11. Oh my, Jaime, I hate that you have a wrong impression of me. I have not had any "outbursts" toward my sister- she was offended by something that happened while I was still being abused in our family of origin over thirty-five years ago!

    I don't really care how she interprets anything. I have come so far since those days. To me it is plain that the animosity she has is the same animosity planted in her all those years ago by our wicked mother. Just like Hanna Williams, there was nothing I could do right. Unlike Hanna Williams family, we were not sequestered in the country and home schooled (THANK GOD!) so the amount of damage my mom's venom could do was limited by circumstance. Also, as a divorcee, my mom had to work for a living (Again THANK GOD!) so she was limited in the amount of time she was home to spew her hate.

    I appreciate the kindness you no doubt were expressing when you suggested anger management classes. I will just assume you haven't been reading my blog very long or gone back to the beginning. Far from an anger management issue, my biggest problem in the recent past was co-dependently allowing myself to be abused. I have been in counseling before, over my childhood issues, and am in counseling now, getting very effective treatment for PTSD that will be concluded by this summer. Introspection and self-improvement have been a part of my life for a long time. So, I appreciate the good wishes for my to take steps in the direction of a path I have been travelling a long time. It is a good path.

    I am sorry about your brother. That sucks eggs. Kudos to you for protecting your new family of choice. =D