Another Round of No More Sister Pain

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
I very carefully presented a boundary to my sister today after much deliberation and blowing off steam in here and to my husband ahead of time. I believe my communication with her was more than considerate, sensitive, and reasonable.

She responded by rolling out a series of she thought, she wishes, as adults, we could support, but are just hurting each others, and she tried but she thinks we should end the relationship.

Again.

How many rounds is this?? I don’t rightly know. This one lasted approximately 23 months, lacked name-calling, and seemed to be going alright. I had hope.

The biggest problem I have and have had this entire round is that I feel guilty about her guilt. I feel guilty even though she has very little notion of what trauma I actually suffered due to her violence as a teen. I feel guilty even though I have done everything I know how to do to support her and be understanding of her position. I feel too guilty to tell her when something hurts, or at least I did.

I told her my feelings were hurt over something she said, a couple of days ago, and told her that there was a time period I should no longer discuss, today - the time period when the violence took place. No insults, no nasty words. I talked it out ahead of time. I prayed. I really tried. But it wasn’t enough.

Ultimately, I said alright. It’s done.

To be honest, I was a little surprised she would do this with all of her tearful apologies and promises a couple of years ago but with less than a year of treatment for cPTSD and GAD under her belt, I imagine things with me get too real for her. She’s also got her damaged relationships with her kids ahead of ours.

I do not feel guilt over trying to take care of myself. I know I wasn't wrong. That's progress.

I am hurt and I am angry. I am sad and I feel betrayed. She is my only sister and I thought we had a strong enough relationship that I could take care of myself in it at 40 years old but I am still not allowed, no matter how careful I am.
 
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Friday

Moderator
I’m sorry. That’s always a risk run, when you give someone a ‘my way or the highway’ ultimatum... that they’ll choose the highway. Doesn’t make it hurt any less, though.
but with less than a year of treatment for cPTSD and GAD under her belt, I imagine things with me get too real for her. She’s also got her damaged relationships with her kids ahead of ours.
X1000 with this. Because when you hit someone with unmanaged PTSD up with anything, much less BigStuff, if their stress cup is nearing the top? Goodnight Irene. People with PTSD often can’t even manage their own emotions, much less other people’s. It’s an extremely difficult thing, being a supporter/loved one of someone with PTSD. Like walking through a field of rakes, even at the best of times. It’s one of the things that drives me crazy with this stupidly selfish damn disorder... where allowances for others simply can’t be made, as a matter of survival (too much stress >> rapid decompensation >> losing everything, up to and including your own life).

I can’t even begin to quantify the number of relationships I’ve lost, on either side of that line, as one or both of us simply cannot handle the other person’s shit. And, unlike normal relationships, where allowances can be made? Where boundaries are what WE do, not demands for other people to followor f*ck off? All or nothing, now is forever, & lashing out slams a great big door shut. Done. Finis. No more, forever.

I hate it. I really, really, do. I’ve lost more people I love from my life because I’m having a bad day, or they are; because something -no matter how innocent, much less charged- lands wrong; because I can’t handle my own shit much less theirs / or they can’t handle their own shit, much less mine... than I care to think about.

Don’t get me wrong... relationships with people with PTSD can be amaaaazing. They’re just also a helluva lot like sweating dynamite. Special handling, required. And not only can, but often do, go kaBOOM no spark required.

Again, I’m sorry it sounds like there’s simply too much stress in both of your lives, too much history & pain, for there to be stability between you two, right now. You with all of the change & chaos of the last few months, her newly in treatment with damaged kids, both of y’all eyeballs deep in family drama/trauma/life stuff, and a plague on to boot.

Now doesn’t have to be forever. A lot of the time people with PTSD just need some space. Time to gather themselves, regroup, settle their stress levels. Giving someone space can be a loving act, instead of a door slammed shut. Which MIGHT be a direction to take this? As it sounds like this isn’t an uncommon pattern between the 2 of you... altering the dynamic to include an allowance for space, instead of holding on by the skin of your teeth until 💥 kaBOOM 💥 & one or both of you lose your shit and slam the door shut on the other?
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
when you give someone a ‘my way or the highway’ ultimatum
Know what? I actually didn't even do that. I said that I was not able to discuss that time period. Maybe that's close enough but I was trying so hard to take care of myself and not do any more damage. But we are who we are.


Thanks @Friday. I really appreciate your support right now. I hate this shit.

She never manages to get help for long. She's in and out of therapy a lot.
 

woodsy1

Confident
I very carefully presented a boundary to my sister today after much deliberation and blowing off steam in here and to my husband ahead of time. I believe my communication with her was more than considerate, sensitive, and reasonable.

She responded by rolling out a series of she thought, she wishes, as adults, we could support, but are just hurting each others, and she tried but she thinks we should end the relationship.

Again.

How many rounds is this?? I don’t rightly know. This one lasted approximately 23 months, lacked name-calling, and seemed to be going alright. I had hope.

The biggest problem I have and have had this entire round is that I feel guilty about her guilt. I feel guilty even though she has very little notion of what trauma I actually suffered due to her violence as a teen. I feel guilty even though I have done everything I know how to do to support her and be understanding of her position. I feel too guilty to tell her when something hurts, or at least I did.

I told her my feelings were hurt over something she said, a couple of days ago, and told her that there was a time period I should no longer discuss, today - the time period when the violence took place. No insults, no nasty words. I talked it out ahead of time. I prayed. I really tried. But it wasn’t enough.

Ultimately, I said alright. It’s done.

To be honest, I was a little surprised she would do this with all of her tearful apologies and promises a couple of years ago but with less than a year of treatment for cPTSD and GAD under her belt, I imagine things with me get too real for her. She’s also got her damaged relationships with her kids ahead of ours.

I do not feel guilt over trying to take care of myself. I know I wasn't wrong. That's progress.

I am hurt and I am angry. I am sad and I feel betrayed. She is my only sister and I thought we had a strong enough relationship that I could take care of myself in it at 40 years old but I am still not allowed, no matter how careful I am.
What you are going through is terribly hard. Complex PTSD is no joke.

Your story is a reflection of a journal entry I wrote about myself a day or two ago. It's called Damaged, Defective, and Dangerous. The gist of it is that because of abuse I am damaged in my soul, defective in my ability to have meaningful relationship with people, and dangerous for anyone who is not super secure in their self to try to connect with. Dangerous because at the slightest confrontation, or conflict, or disapproval, I will most certainly pull back which is painful to anyone trying to get close to me. (not dangerous like aggressive or anything like that)

It sounds like perhaps your sister is experiencing some of the debilitating symptoms of c-ptsd which I experience. It sucks because there is a strong desire for relationship, but an inability to tolerate openness and vulnerability. It's like a catch-22. So very frustrating, and painful.

Right now I won't try to have a new relationship with someone for the fear I will put them through what you are going through with your sister.

I think we need to form a t-shirt company to make t-shirts with warning labels on them. Lol. Kinda like cigarettes or booze but for people like me with Complex PTSD. Then at least we can laugh at ourselves a little and not take ourselves too aweful seriously. Sometimes that helps. Or "I'm triggered, try again later" lights?!?

I imagine that since your sister has begun therapy, she will make progress. It can take a lot of time though. I was 6 years before I could even enter therapy. I've only just begun and have a long painful road ahead.

One day at a time. Today you made an effort that didn't go as planned. Tomorrow or next week or next month might be better.

Let us know how things progress. We're here to listen and share our 2 cents worth if nothing else.

Chat ya soon,
Woodsy
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
It sounds like perhaps your sister is experiencing some of the debilitating symptoms of c-ptsd which I experience. It sucks because there is a strong desire for relationship, but an inability to tolerate openness and vulnerability. It's like a catch-22. So very frustrating, and painful.
She is. And I feel for her because I have been there. You would think that would be helpful but in a lot of ways, it just makes it harder. And since a ton of my worst and earliest experiences with cPTSD involved having flashbacks of her putting my life in danger and belittling me, I can only be so supportive of her, especially when the support she is looking for is someone to agree that she doesn't need treatment, is handling life matters in a healthy way or has not done much wrong in this life.

Right now I won't try to have a new relationship with someone for the fear I will put them through what you are going through with your sister.
I respect that. I feel like I have been watching a slow-motion train wreck for the last 21 years since my sister had my oldest nephew. I don't have kids because of my trauma and watching her helped me solidify this in my mind. Much of the guilt she has now is actually about her kids - not me - but I do believe that her oldest and I are enough alike that the guilt runs together. Frankly, I think that situation is a lot more important than the situation between the two of us and I hope she goes forth in her life with a better game plan for the family she actually wanted.

I imagine that since your sister has begun therapy, she will make progress. It can take a lot of time though. I was 6 years before I could even enter therapy. I've only just begun and have a long painful road ahead.
My sister is very perpetually a newbie to therapy. She may or may not be in at the moment. I know she had been, fairly recently.

The way I figure it, she probably has had cPTSD for at least 35 years and may have sat still for 18 months of therapy. At this point, I imagine that her prognosis would be pretty poor unless she got very serious about treatment. I could be wrong but I have a strong feeling that she may also have a personality disorder. She has a sort of obsession with being a "good" person. She was perceived as the opposite growing up. She seems to feel that everything that is done or said that makes her feel guilt is trying to tear down her knowledge of herself as a good person. She went on a tirade yesterday that seemed very bent on showing off what a good person she is right before doing the equivalent of breaking up with me. She's always done this.

Maybe I am jaded but I don't really have a concept of good and bad people in the sense that she does. I see a lot of broken people who do hurtful things. We have much different experiences in this since I got sober at 21 years old and met up with and hung out with a lot of people she considered "bad." Personally, I think her husband is a dick but he is the sort of "normal" she always seemed to want.

Right now, I suppose I feel a little relieved. I don't have any guilt for cutting her off and I don't have any shame bubbling up over the things she wants to pry at me about. I may never feel I need to recount the gory details of her assaults and attempted assaults on me again because no one will be begging for those details, just for the sake of refuting or minimizing them. This is definitely not all bad for me. In fact, it may be a wake-up call.

I am also a little numb. I cried a lot last night and also slept poorly due to that and because I have some injuries right now that were flaring up.

I do feel better than I did. I at least feel fine with the idea of not being on that pony anymore right now. My husband and I have a lot going on with being newly relocated and whatnot, so it's not bad timing.

Thank you very much for your input and support @woodsy1 . I am glad to see that you are adding to your socialization routine by being involved around here. I feel like it really is a good, safe place for those of us who need other traumatized/anxious people to relate to.
 

woodsy1

Confident
W
She is. And I feel for her because I have been there. You would think that would be helpful but in a lot of ways, it just makes it harder. And since a ton of my worst and earliest experiences with cPTSD involved having flashbacks of her putting my life in danger and belittling me, I can only be so supportive of her, especially when the support she is looking for is someone to agree that she doesn't need treatment, is handling life matters in a healthy way or has not done much wrong in this life.


I respect that. I feel like I have been watching a slow-motion train wreck for the last 21 years since my sister had my oldest nephew. I don't have kids because of my trauma and watching her helped me solidify this in my mind. Much of the guilt she has now is actually about her kids - not me - but I do believe that her oldest and I are enough alike that the guilt runs together. Frankly, I think that situation is a lot more important than the situation between the two of us and I hope she goes forth in her life with a better game plan for the family she actually wanted.


My sister is very perpetually a newbie to therapy. She may or may not be in at the moment. I know she had been, fairly recently.

The way I figure it, she probably has had cPTSD for at least 35 years and may have sat still for 18 months of therapy. At this point, I imagine that her prognosis would be pretty poor unless she got very serious about treatment. I could be wrong but I have a strong feeling that she may also have a personality disorder. She has a sort of obsession with being a "good" person. She was perceived as the opposite growing up. She seems to feel that everything that is done or said that makes her feel guilt is trying to tear down her knowledge of herself as a good person. She went on a tirade yesterday that seemed very bent on showing off what a good person she is right before doing the equivalent of breaking up with me. She's always done this.

Maybe I am jaded but I don't really have a concept of good and bad people in the sense that she does. I see a lot of broken people who do hurtful things. We have much different experiences in this since I got sober at 21 years old and met up with and hung out with a lot of people she considered "bad." Personally, I think her husband is a dick but he is the sort of "normal" she always seemed to want.

Right now, I suppose I feel a little relieved. I don't have any guilt for cutting her off and I don't have any shame bubbling up over the things she wants to pry at me about. I may never feel I need to recount the gory details of her assaults and attempted assaults on me again because no one will be begging for those details, just for the sake of refuting or minimizing them. This is definitely not all bad for me. In fact, it may be a wake-up call.

I am also a little numb. I cried a lot last night and also slept poorly due to that and because I have some injuries right now that were flaring up.

I do feel better than I did. I at least feel fine with the idea of not being on that pony anymore right now. My husband and I have a lot going on with being newly relocated and whatnot, so it's not bad timing.

Thank you very much for your input and support @woodsy1 . I am glad to see that you are adding to your socialization routine by being involved around here. I feel like it really is a good, safe place for those of us who need other traumatized/anxious people to relate to.
Wow! What great feedback. I'm glad that YOU are coping well. In the end that's the only element that you can manage it be in control of. Ultimately your sister has to come to terms with her life on her terms.

I'm no therapist, but what I've heard from you of your sister sounds similar to some things I saw in my wife, particularly in regards to her BPD diagnosis. Hard for a lay person to say since BPD and C-PTSD have more in common than not. The biggest difference being that one is a illness while the other is a personality disorder. Not to mention they can be comorbid.

Of course that's all stuff for a therapist to figure out. For us, the symptoms are what we choose to either work with or not. I'm glad for you that you are strong enough to have compassion on your sister without it wrecking your life.

I wouldn't be able to handle it. I know myself well enough now to realize my severe weaknesses brought on by trauma, and set appropriate boundaries for the protection if myself and others. Others only in the fact that insecure folks could be harmed by getting close to me only to have me pull away. I'm at the extreme "flight" end of the fight or flight spectrum and would never harm a fly! Lol.

Again, glad to hear you are doing better.

Have as good a day as possible,
Woodsy
 

RussellSue

MyPTSD Pro
Since I posted this, she apologized to me and I apologized to her. Apparently, my Lithium withdrawals and our perimenopausal symptoms collided, in addition to other things. I have said that I need to finish detoxing from the rest of my Lithium without talking to her which means that we might be in contact again in mid-December. She has agreed.

Round and round we go.

Still, the fact that she apologized to me just more than 24 hours after telling me she was done with our relationship seems like progress for both of us. It means I didn't say anything so insensitive that she needs to hide from me for a few years and it means that she realized that she overreacted. She and I both have abandonment issues and she also said that she was expecting me to tell her to take a hike and wanted to get it over with. Been there, done that, so I can hardly hold a grudge about that. I also managed to apologize to her even after the break-up, though I initially felt that she was overreacting. It seems like this meant a lot to her because her feelings have, admittedly, been ignored by family all of her life.

We still have a lot of baggage, obviously. I'm hoping that we can keep some level of contact, regardless.

Thanks for the responses. Between this thread and the others I posted over our garbage in the recent past, I feel like I have been able to think things through on a different level than I have previously.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
Hiya, RS. Family relationships are notoriously difficult when there are big issues. It sounds like progress has been made on both sides though. Happy for you. Sometimes getting a relationship back up to a simple level of communication is all we can hope for. It's actually quite a big deal to even achieve that!! 😊
 

woodsy1

Confident
Since I posted this, she apologized to me and I apologized to her. Apparently, my Lithium withdrawals and our perimenopausal symptoms collided, in addition to other things. I have said that I need to finish detoxing from the rest of my Lithium without talking to her which means that we might be in contact again in mid-December. She has agreed.

Round and round we go.

Still, the fact that she apologized to me just more than 24 hours after telling me she was done with our relationship seems like progress for both of us. It means I didn't say anything so insensitive that she needs to hide from me for a few years and it means that she realized that she overreacted. She and I both have abandonment issues and she also said that she was expecting me to tell her to take a hike and wanted to get it over with. Been there, done that, so I can hardly hold a grudge about that. I also managed to apologize to her even after the break-up, though I initially felt that she was overreacting. It seems like this meant a lot to her because her feelings have, admittedly, been ignored by family all of her life.

We still have a lot of baggage, obviously. I'm hoping that we can keep some level of contact, regardless.

Thanks for the responses. Between this thread and the others I posted over our garbage in the recent past, I feel like I have been able to think things through on a different level than I have previously.
This is awesome news! Thanks so much for sharing. I'm super happy for you both that you have come to a mutually agreeable solution this time around.

😁
 

intothelight

Moderator
My sister was diagnosed with PTSD in 94 and I was diagnosed in 2010, both of us receiving the diagnosis due to an abusive parent. When we were children, I was the protector, taking the majority of the physical abuse and she is the keeper of the memories as I blocked it all out. As adults, we both entered into abusive relationships and our unhealthy coping mechanisms were very divergent. The problem is, as adults, its been rocky at times, but we've finally gotten to a point where we both know when to call a "time out" and not take it personally.

Since we are the only family we have (my only sibling), and our children are close in age and have a decent relationship, we both agree that when things are stressful, rather than strike out, we just allow breathing space with no conditions/shame or guilt attached. We also have agreed that how we behaved in the past was reflective of how abused children learn to act/respond/make choices, etc. in light of age, upbringing and experiences. What we know as adults is not who or what we knew at that point in time, so there was a letting go and forgiving, as who we are now and what we know now is that of adults.

Its not easy and there aren't any clear cut rules or paths to follow, and damn things seem to always change, but if there can be communication and some healthy boundaries, a sibling relationship can be maintained at hopefully enjoyed. We have been fortunate to have reached that point, in spite of the hurt we inflicted in the ignorance of certain points in time.

Not sure if this is helpful or not, but it takes both people to work through it as we can only be responsible for our own choices and responses.
 
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