Lately I’ve been a bit frustrated with not being able to do the things I used to do – running, lifting, drinking anything on the menu, eating lunch meat with reckless abandon…you get the idea.
The other day I received an email that gave me the opportunity to really do something. A dear friend of mine asked for a favor, and today, I am happily serving that favor up here at The Wink.
The post you are about to read is from this friend who was looking for a safe place to talk. Please read her post and leave comments as the spirit moves you.
Thanks to Amanda for loaning me her space. I needed to write this, and I needed to do so in a place where I know my family won’t see it. Normally I write here, but it just wasn’t safe to post this.
It’s been less than 18 months since I moved away from my hometown, and in that short time my relationship with my mom and my sister has completely changed.
I used to think we were close, that our bonds were unshakable. We came through a very rocky time after my dad died three and a half years ago, when my mother acted so outrageously that, after nearly a year of suicide threats and outlandish behavior, both my sister and I took a stand and told her we would no longer put ourselves in the line of fire for her.
My mom and I didn’t speak for nearly a month. That may sound like a short time, but we were so close that just after my dad’s death my husband suggested that if we needed to, we would live with her.
The break healed, but not cleanly. However, our relationship improved over time.
My sister has always been my best friend, but our relationship also suffered from the death and my mom’s behavior. It was almost as if she needed to distance herself from me in order to distance herself from our mother, and her own grief.
Now my sister and my mom live in the same city. The see each other every Sunday, and sometimes more often. My sister’s kids get the benefit of living near their grandmother.
What do I get, now that I am out of sight and out of mind?
They never call me. If I want to talk to them, the onus is on me to pick up the phone. If I want to spend time with them, I have to get on a plane, alone with my kid, and fly 700 miles. When I’m there, if I fit in their schedules, great. If not, oh well. Then I’m left to hang out by myself while my mom gets a facial or sees a movie with her (stupid and annoying) boyfriend and my sister does whatever the hell it is she does.
Both of them manage to find the time to go to Disneyworld together, go on cruises together, go visit friends, whatever. They have the spare cash to re-do their houses or build new ones.
But somehow they can never find the time or funds to visit me and my child.
My daughter is my sister’s only niece. She is her godchild. My mother is a widow who claims her life revolves around her grandchildren. And yet, my daughter weeps at the kitchen table on Sunday afternoons when she is told that she can’t go see her aunt, cousins and grandmother. But do either one of them make any effort to come and see her?
I see now that we aren’t close – I was close to them. I worked hard to be part of their lives. I cared for my mother at the expense of my own mental health and set aside my own grief to try and help alleviate hers. I offered up my daughter as a balm for her spirit and I was rejected out of hand over and over and over.
I called my sister nearly every single day when she lived 1,000 miles away when my dad was dying. I bore the burdens of his illness and death in her stead, all by myself.
But they don’t feel the same about me. This past summer I complained during a vacation meant to be time spent together that I was being ignored, and my sister told me I was weird and that I have a persecution complex.
This, because I wanted to spend time with the family I now only see once or twice a year, on a trip I made specifically to do so, at my mother’s request.
All of this came to a head last week, when I learned that my sister is making time to go visit a friend in another state, bringing her whole family with her. And my mother was supposed to be away this week, and so I decided not to go back East for a visit. But my mom changed her plans and stayed home, only she didn’t tell me. So instead of being back east and visiting her and my friends, I am home alone in Illinois while my husband attends a conference all week in another state.
And you know what? I’ve had it. I’m not reaching out anymore. I’m not exhausting myself by traveling to see them. I’m not calling them anymore.
You know how when astronauts are in orbit and there comes a point where they are unreachable, in a communications black-out?
That’s me. From now on I am on the dark side of the moon.
Oh Mrs.C I am so sorry. This just sounds like an awful heartache. Put all your love, time and energy into something else for now. Maybe they will come around when they see what they are missing. Maybe then it can be more of a 50/50 relationship.
I knew by your writing that this was you, even before I checked the link.
I understand what you're describing.
My sisters and parents all live in the same area. They do things together, travel together, etc…
Two years ago, I finally cracked up and sent a lengthy letter to my parents, who then drove right up to talk about things.
Thankfully, I was seeing a therapist at the time, and she helped me figure out what to say, how to say and how to make them understand how I was feeling.
The situation remains the same, but I feel better for having said something after all those years.
They likely won't change. But at some point, I'm betting you will find some sort of resolution or peace for yourself.
In the meantime, I'm so sorry.
That left-out, overlooked feeling sucks.
oh friend..i so wish your family was obsessed with you the way that i am (not in a weird way) 🙂 i am so very sorry that you feel this way.
no adivce…just hugs. and lots of em.
Oh, Mama, ouch. It hurt to read that ~ I can feel your pain and we've been there, too. More with my husband's family than with my own (thankfully ~ I don't know if I could handle it)… but it is a strange phenomenon, when you think you are close, what happens when you experimentally let the other person be the one to arrange visits and dial the phone. And then suddenly, it's all gone… the closeness, the relationship, the love even.
It's a hard thing to talk about with the offending relatives because it seems small and petty, but these little hurts add up to one big one.
I think you are doing the right thing by protecting yourself and your daughter from future hurts.
And the good thing is, "family" doesn't have to be blood ~ I'm sure you have lots of people in your life that love you like a sister and love your daughter like their own neice. It's not the same, but it can be pretty darn close.
I hope you feel better getting to vent here in Amanda's space and I think it's great that our lovely Amanda offered it to you! Just love that Mama to pieces 🙂
I'm sitting here, trying to imagine myself in your place, and deciding that I would feel stung and hollow. I'm sorry that your connection has eroded this way. I understand why you're done though: at some point the motivation to reach out just burns up in space.
I hope writing this offers you some catharsis.
This situation STINKS. Maybe you CAN write something about this on your blog, but in a passive aggressive way, saying how much you miss your family but cant get out there right now. Or you can just cut them off. Cutting them off would be more healthy in my opinion.
Either way, I hope you do whatever you can find happiness in. And you've got yourself a new reader too!
I'm so sorry for your heartbreak, Mrs. Chicken. It's just impossible to hold up a relationship all on your own. I've gone through the same thing in my family. I got to the point where I can take them or leave them, and I'm so much happier.
Sending you virtual hugs….
I'm so sorry about your situation. I hope you can in someway find a balance or make peace with whatever decision you come to. My father was the glue of our family, we lost him 5 years ago, and while my mom is still very supportive of us, she is not the same. It's so hard. You'll find your way with your own family-traditions, travel, etc. Best of luck to you.
for better or worse, i actually know exactly what you mean. my mom and sister have lived in the same city for about 8 years now. the whole time i was in college, i barely spoke to them, and i hated how close they were. the same thing happened to me with my sister spending the time and money to go visit someone else, even though i'd been asking her for years to come visit me. when i went to visit, i hung in the background and felt out of the loop.
i don't have any advice, unfortunately. just commiseration. it really and truly sucks to be in that position, and i'm so sorry you have to be feeling that way.
I'm sorry. It sucks to feel out of the loop, unappreciated, forgotten. I hope that somehow this divide can be mended, but it certainly sounds as if you've done everything in your power to make that so.
This is so sad and difficult. Maybe they've gotten used to you being the one who always reaches out and feel like they don't have to do it anymore? I hope that now that you've decided not to do that, they'll reach out to you instead.
I am so sorry that this has happened. My relationship with my Mum and Sister also changed when my Dad died, they lived in the same place and I live 300 miles away. Now my Mum has moved to a different place and we all have to make an equal effort to see each other. Maybe a total communication blackout will make them realise that it is you that is doing all the calling and visiting. I wish you the best with this situation.
Oh hon, I'm so sorry. It sucks. My mother never ever calls me either. I always figure it's because she's too cheap to call "long distance", but really it's because she's a narcissist who wants everyone to fawn over her. Big hugs to you.
So sorry, only family can hurt us so. Friends who we choose, we can loose, but Family, we can't lose them – even when we want too! Sounds familiar to alot of us who have out of town "close" relatives (and some in town). I live in NW Indiana, could I pose as a Stand In grandma or sister?
"…and my sister does whatever the hell it is she does."
I find it pretty ironic and audacious when people expect compassion, interest and attention from others when they clearly have no interest in extending the same.
And who's the one who moved away? Why is it the mother and sister's fault that she left? Are the mother and sister supposed to have a distant relationship now just because their family member has moved?
And what good does it do to anyone to use the internet to attack people?
Relationships are a two-way street, and no doubt the mother and sister have their side of the story too. The "onus" is ALWAYS upon EVERYONE involved in order to maintain relationships.
That's my opinion. I realize it does nothing to stroke a bruised ego, but, hey, there are 14 comments before this one that do.
To the mama's sister:
I exert a tremendous amount of effort to maintain these relationships. I call every day. I send photos and movies of my child. I video conference. I fly thousands of miles – alone, since my husband can't leave school – to see my family.
Those actions are not reciprocated at all. So the two-way street, in my case, runs only one way.
As for leaving, my husband and I moved away to better our lives. His education will lead to more economic opportunity for our family, for our children. Our intention is to move back to the east coast once we are done.
TO say I am writing from a bruised ego only reveals that you did not carefully read what I wrote and viewed it through your own lens.
My feelings are hurt because it seems that the burden of maintain the relationship is all on me. And that tells me that I am not valued by the ones I love. As you said, it is a two-way street, yes?
I love mt family of origin beyond reason and have sacrificed for them over and over in my life. And I will continue to do so. But sometimes, you need to let your hurts out.
Yeah, sure. Everyone needs to vent. Everyone gets upset. My question is why do you have to do it on the internet? Because as far as I'm concerned that's the equivalent of going down to town square with a mega phone and announcing how pissed you are at your family, friends, significant other, whoever. It just strikes me as highly inappropriate and disrespectful to the people you claim to care for so much. How would you feel if they posted a rant about you behind your back for all the world to see online? I did read your post, but I have to say in all honesty the only people I really felt sorry for was the mother and sister, because they're the ones who won't get a chance to defend themselves now that they've been slandered online behind their backs.
I've been bogged down in my own things of late and haven't taken the time to comment on much; I wanted to comment here.
Whatever you're feeling; the hurt; the frustration; the darkness– while none of us can know the individuality of your exact experience–many of us can sympathize with the obvious pain that you're suffering.
We like to think that families can make us and families can break us, but ultimately, it is ourselves that must be responsible for our health and happiness and it's so hard to accept that and face that when we tend to define ourselves through the eyes of others.
I can't offer you the solution you need, but I can offer you my compassion. I know that is not enough, but I wish it were.
And Mama's Sister:
I don't think that she intended this post to be cruel, but rather cathartic.
You appear intelligent and empathetic; perhaps this would be one of those times when saying nothing would be more appropriate. Whether you think she should be or not, she is in obvious pain.
Why add to it?