Sufferer how do you get over the guilt?

coldravioli

New Here
This is my first time being in any type of support group/forum like this, but this seemed to be one of the better ones I could find online. Long story short, I was physically and emotionally abused by my younger sister and I still don't really know how to process it.

My younger sister (I have no other siblings), who I'm going to call M, is currently 16. Since she was in late elementary school/middle school, she's always had anger issues and meltdowns, but my family always just chalked that up to her having just that, anger issues. Many years and about 5 inpatient stays later and she's been diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and some depression/anxiety disorders. Her bipolar, instead of the highs and lows manifesting as the textbook super happy mania and super bad depression, instead came as cycles of aggression and depressive guilt. It got increasingly worse as she got older, and was first admitted to a mental hospital when she was about 14. They had to switch hospitals at least twice and CPS almost got involved because of how violent she was. At home, I was a primary target, where she would commonly shout, yell, and corner me over even mild inconveniences. She commonly blackmailed and guilt-tripped me, especially as she had found out I was transgender long before I was ready to come out to my mother. Additionally, it was not uncommon for her to physically hit and kick me, shout directly into my face at full volume, and if I tried to remove myself from the situation, she would relentlessly follow me around the house, even busting open my door to continue the harassment and bullying. It got to the point where I took every chance I could find to not go home after school, as I never knew what mood she would be in and I had no privacy or safe place in the house. With her in and out of inpatient, this went on for about two years. There were multiple times where we had to call the police to help mediate the situation, she could be so violent and out of control.

The worst point by far was just after I had sprained my ankle. I had been out all day with my mother for a doctor's appointment and to run errands, and both of us were exhausted and in pain (my mother has a chronic autoimmune disease, which can be incredibly painful for her at times). My father was still on his way home from work, and would not be back for at least an hour. We have multiple dogs, and M had been left home alone for most of the afternoon after school. The dogs should've been fed and let out multiple times throughout the day by the time we had come home. Instead, the house was a mess, the dogs were unfed, and she was in a foul mood when we walked through the door. Us asking why she hadn't taken care of the dogs only made her more irate. My mother and I decided that she would let the dogs out as I cleaned up the living room, and we would sort out the situation with my sister later. What ended up happening was as I went around trying to clean, M (who started out complaining and refusing to help) was shouting at me for cleaning by myself, and how I always refused to let her help at all so why should she even bother, etc etc etc. As I said, she was prone to guilt-tripping. It culminated with her pounding on my back with closed fists as hard as she could while screaming at me, all while I tried to ignore her and just get the work done. When that didn't get my attention, she proceeded to kick in my injured ankle until I had fallen over, leaning on a chair for support. The rest of the night is a bit of a blur, but eventually, I gave in to a panic attack and took shelter underneath a table in our den as my mother came back with the dogs and distracted M. My mother ended up calling 9-1-1 as she couldn't deal with one kid in a manic rage and another in a massive panic attack. I remember my sister sitting in the chair immediately next to the table I was under, and knowing that she was sitting there because she knew how much power she had over me in that position. Some more time elapses and the next thing I know, a group of about 5 firemen are crouched in front of the table, trying to coax me out and calm me down. My mother had called a family friend for back up, who arrived just as my dad came home to two police cars and a firetruck outside of our home. My parents ended up taking my sister to what was now her fourth(?) hospital, and I went to stay with the family friend for a bit. I was offered dinner (which I ate) and a bed to sleep in, but I insisted that I go home so that our dogs wouldn't be left alone all night. I ended up slowly and numbly cleaning up the rest of the house, doing the dishes/other regular chores, taking the dogs out one last time, and crawling into bed. I couldn't even begin to process what had happened that day and to be honest, I don't think I have since.

I think maybe the worst part is the guilt that I still feel about the whole situation; when things were really bad, sometimes I wished that she would just... get it over with. She was suicidal, and sometimes when it was late at night and I was filled with resentment and anger and fear I wished that she would die. It was terrifying to me then, and it's terrifying to me now because I really did mean it. I never said it to her face but she made me so miserable and scared all the time, which only built on top of the undiagnosed and untreated anxiety and ADHD that I was already suffering from. It kills me to think that M used to be like that. And that I used to think like that.

It's been three years since that incident, and over a year and a half since my sister really started to get better. Right now, we're actually pretty close, which is hard to believe since not too long ago I had resigned myself to the fact that I would probably cut all ties with her (and probably the rest of my family) once I left for college. After a long time and a lot of trial and error, she's found a pretty decent mix of meds and is getting therapy, and while she has her moments it seems to be working. I also have a therapist, but I'm sure a lot of you understand how hard it can be to try and talk about and process the worst memories and experiences of your life for 45 minutes and then try and stuff it all back inside and function normally right after. It's made me hesitant to bring up my trauma with my therapist, as great as he is. So here I am, dumping my trauma into a forum of strangers, hoping that maybe I might be able to start to process and come to terms with it. Maybe none of this makes sense, maybe I'm just shouting into a void, idk. I figured that this was better than sitting and refusing to acknowledge that I've been hurt.

Thanks for taking the time to read my small novel. I hope everyone who sees this is coping as best as they can during quarantine. :)
 

AngelkeeperJ

Sponsor
Welcome to the Forum! You did a great job on your intro...I'm sorry you have a need for a place like this but glad you did! Keep up the good work and I hope to see you around!
Blessings to you and yours!

😊
 

Freida

Sponsor
Welcome!

Yep - I was right there with ya. The idea of spilling my guts to strangers freaked me out. A lot! But it's turned out to be one of the best choices I've ever made. This is a great group of people who get it.

My brother is a nutjob. Ya, not a pc way to put it but there ya have it. 😁 I'm several years older than him and was often the person who had to deal with him when his mental illness flared up because he would listen to me when he wouldn't' listen to others. It was hard because I hated to watch him suffer but also hated to watch him taking it out on those around him

And yep. There were times I wished he would just die because it would make everyone's lives easier.
Do I feel guilty about that? Sometimes. But I have learned along the way that its a normal reaction when someone is so destructive in our lives. They are exhausting and overwhelming and hurtful and sometimes the only way you can even begin to see a solution is to kill them off in your imagination
That doesn't necessarily mean you really want them to die.
It means your stress cup is so full that you can't think of any other options that might help remove the constant crisis from your world

When you add in how young you were when you were having to deal with this? It makes a lot of sense.

You weren't a horrible person who should feel guilty about her thoughts
You were an overwhelmed kid who was using magical thinking to try to make a situation better.
Tell your t.
Let him help you thru it.
It's guilt you don't need to carry 💜
 
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Justmehere

Sponsor
Welcome to the forums!

This is going to sound like the most bizarre question, but it changed my life when someone asked me: what "benefit" does taking on the "guilt" or blame for her actions bring you?

It's super common for trauma survivors to take in the shame and fault that actually belongs to the abuser. It's a means of coping with the trauma. She told you that you are to blame and this bad things happen to you. When enduring trauma the aftermath, it can be easy to beleive such a lie.

Trying to step out of it and embrace the truth that 1.) She is the only one to blame for her actions 2.) It wasn't your fault 3.) Things that you did nit deserve happened to you - all very hard realities to face.

For a long time I told myself that my father was right that I cause him to hurt me. I didn't want to face someone in my family suffering from mental illness took his shit and his shame out on me because he's crazy and mean. Nah, I wanted some kind of control. If it was my fault then maybe I could prevent it from happening again. For me to let go of the blame for his abuse, I have had to learn to replace the maladaptive coping tool of self blame with other tools to feel safe and in control.

For you, it may be a different solution to replace the undeserved self blame with other ways to see what happened.

It may take time. You had years of learning one way, go gently with yourself to learn another.

There was once a woman who wore glasses for a study that turned the world upside down. That's what trauma can be like. She learned to navigate seeing the world upside down than it really was. After two weeks, they took the glasses off, she saw the world as it was, and was fumbling around. It took time for her brain to adjust to normal. To the world being right side up.

I'm glad you are reaching out. The actions of your sister are not your fault. You are not to blame for any action of yours "provoking" her for any other such nonsense. Keep working to disagree with her, to say to yourself she is wrong, she was out of control, and you are an incredible survivor of trauma.

The sense of false guilt for her actions will change over time.
 
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