We Call ‘Em Toxic People

Well, friends, I’ve talked a lot in the past about my older sister. Once upon a time, she was arrested for domestic violence against me. She got better. With therapy and medication, we both did, and we’ve had a much healthier relationship.

I’m sure you can sense the “but” coming.

And indeed it did. Because she’s been giving me the silent treatment for over a month, after I said something offensive (and I’m still not sure what). I’ve tried to apologize and explain further and further, but not only is it beating my head against a brick wall, I’ve realized that everything hasn’t been all sunshine and roses since we “got over” everything. No, I’ve spent this entire time still walking on eggshells to try and keep her happy. Even though our relationship, according to myself, has been so very great.

Take last Christmas, for example. She was trying to tie a mattress down in a truck bed, in the middle of an evening snowstorm, in a hoodie. She pulled me out of a vet appointment to help out. I offered her the snowboarding jacket I had in my trunk, but she wouldn’t take it, even though she was obviously cold, and got very snappy when I asked if she was sure. Snappier than she’s been with me since The Incident (aka the day she was arrested). And I was supposed to stay at her apartment that night!

So I told her to calm down, and I left. I finished taking care of my cats, and I drove back to her place, fully expecting to be locked out. But no, she wasn’t home yet. Second thought was that she went to her boyfriend’s place for the night so that she could ignore me. And because I’d pushed her so hard to take the stupid jacket (I shouldn’t have offered a second time), our relationship was strained, and it was all my fault. In short, I spent the evening flashing back to all the emotions of the times before The Incident, when I didn’t know what I could expect from her. Long story short(er), that night was the first cutting incident I’d had in years. And it turned out to be over nothing, as she came back a couple hours later, having stopped at DI, and wondering why I was sitting in the dark with my stuff half-packed. She had no idea, and treated me as kindly as normal for the rest of my visit.

As a precursor to this current incident, she got annoyed with me for thinking there was some deeper meaning behind a message she sent me, telling me I was invalidating her feelings. That’s when I lost it. After taking the time to calm down properly (I know better than to try to talk to her in the heat of the moment), I told her to remember that she was the one who abused me, and I can’t control my, for lack of a better word, triggers. She had been passive aggressive in the past, and my brain was still used to that. I told her it was invalidating to have your own former abuser tell you what to feel.

And thus, I have been shunned. Even on Thanksgiving, my parents were over at her place. My mother called and put me on speakerphone so everyone could say happy Thanksgiving. Everyone except my sister, who went into the other room so she didn’t have to talk to me.

Now, I realize, she hasn’t grown up nearly as much as I thought she had. She’s not the mature adult I can rely on. She’s not anyone I can rely on. She harped on me for suspecting something else going on, and then she proves me right. She’s being passive aggressive, and I can’t trust her. That hurts like hell, because I love my sister dearly. But maybe this time I’ll learn my lesson. I don’t need her. I have a fantastic support network: three amazing best friends, and the greatest boyfriend a girl could ask for. It’s time to truly detox my life (not that she’ll give me a choice, anyway), and stop being her doormat. We obviously can’t be close, if she’s going to be childish like this. And I’m better off without her.

My advice to anyone else out there who wants to forgive their abusers, or already has: yes, forgive them, but that doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye to them, and what they’re doing to you. Be wary. It takes a hell of a long time to regain trust, and for good reason. Don’t take their shit. You’re better than that, and you don’t need them, if they’re going to treat you badly.

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Sticks and Stones

I’m sure we all know that one person. They can be so much fun to be around. But if you cross them, batten down the hatches and prepare for the worst, because they’re gonna tear you apart. They’re the ones we think about when we say, “It’s not me, it’s you.”

For me, it’s my sister.

Sibling abuse. Unreal, right? Siblings naturally compete. Isn’t it melodramatic to call it abuse?

No.

Since when has sibling rivalry involved arguments where the elder sibling starts beating the younger with an electric skillet lid, then says it was self defense? Dragging the younger down the sidewalk on Main Street? Following the younger in a car when they’ve walked away from an argument? Throwing objects at the younger’s head for “lying?” Refusing to leave the younger alone no matter what—after polite asking has turned to demanding has turned to threats has turned to begging?

If you think that’s all good and normal, try imagining now that the older sibling is an adult, and the younger sibling a child. Or maybe the first a man and the second a woman.

It’s wrong. It’s abuse. Nobody should be allowed to do that to another person.

But my sister has done all those to me, and much more. When I’ve walked away, not wanting to deal with her, she’s said I’m too sensitive. When I resprained my bad ankle, I was a drama queen. When we went to church together, I couldn’t sit next to a friend, because I’d talk. I hate St. Patrick’s day, so I’m a hipster. I enjoy the dramatic side of life, so I’m emo. I’m whiny, selfish and immature (yet I’m not the one to come after an annoying sister with scissors!). Our dad does so much for us that I always fail to appreciate. (But, y’know, I’m the one who’s had a more recent job. She wasn’t even looking, and had been “borrowing” money from my dad for over a year.)

She realized something was wrong with Mom before I did, so I figured she was always right. I’ve always looked up to her. So I listened to her. I can’t even count the hours I’ve spent trying to figure out why I was being such a sensitive, whiny, selfish, immature, emo, hipster drama queen.

To anyone out there who’s going through similar things with a sibling—or anyone else: you’re not the problem, so stop second-guessing yourself. Be who you want to be, not who they want you to be. Forget the old adage—words can hurt just as much as physical blows. They can damage and stunt us as we work to avoid them. They can make us doubt our reality—our sanity. But realize that the words aren’t correct just because someone we love said them.