One step forward, two steps back….

Hi Brook,
I thought I was doing so well! It’s about my relationship with my mom and my sister. You’ve coached me before on this. Long story short, something happened last year and I made myself the victim. I understand that now, and I’m trying to work towards becoming an emotional adult rather than a child. We both agreed that we didn’t want to rehash the issue and that we would move forward.

Since then we have had quite a number of friendly text exchanges together and in a group text with my older brother and sister. I also tried to reach out to her several times by phone but she has a history of not returning anyone’s calls. (My whole family has frustrations with that issue). I realize I can’t control her and she really gets to do what she wants to do. However, I feel like I’ve come so far and then I slip.

I want to make plans for my daughter’s confirmation. She will not return my calls despite the fact that she is honored to be the sponsor. So what do I do?? I fall into the same trap. I have one too many glasses of wine and start texting very snippy texts. I’ve made the situation worse through my actions and my thoughts. The next day I sent another text apologizing and admitting that I was drinking and it was all my fault and I totally owned it. Now, there have been times in the past when she calls me with one too many, but does not get angry. “I’m the angry one in the family”. All family problems would be solved if “I just didn’t get angry sometimes when I drink ”. I know that that is a thought but I know that she actually believes that thought. At this point, she has decided that she wants to have distance from me (because of my anger (her words) when I sometimes drink). Now, she has decided to fly down for the confirmation but she will stay in a hotel. She’s really good at giving conditions to me and to my mom i.e., “Mom I will take you to Ireland but you better behave”. At first, I was hurt but then I realized she needs to do what she needs to do. She has already predetermined that I’m going to get angry before it has even happened which I told her. In the meantime, I told her I would fly mom down and she could stay with me. I sent her an email with all the flight information for my mom (so she can take her to the airport). She said that the plan sounds good and that she would like to call the next evening to discuss our feelings. I listened to your podcast on “having difficult conversation” at least 3 times. I’m ready to swallow the “I’m right” (as so hard as that can be for me). I thought I was so prepared for the conversation. But, when she called, she threw me a curve ball. She, once again, called from her car in transit and instructed me that she has decided that she wants to have a relaxing dinner with her husband and that they both decided to drive down to me for the confirmation and stay in a hotel. (He never, ever comes to visit with my sister). Now, did I act like an emotional adult? No. I should have just said, you need to do what you need to do and call it that. Instead I responded sarcastically. She also has decided that she feels we need to drum up the whole conflict that happened last summer to get to the root of “my” problem. She will not accept any more apologies from me. (My thought was at least I apologize. Something she has NEVER. ) Her apologies are always sorry “but”….I mentioned that to her once and she actually recognized it. And I know I can’t keep apologizing and then make the same mistake.

After so much model work, thought looping and really studying myself, I’ve had a mind blowing discovery. I’ve realized that I have depended on my sister SO much my whole life to the point that she feels she can control me like she controls my mom. She’s extremely controlling and manipulating but presents herself as being so sweet and kind and she does everything from the goodness of her heart. (not my thought only fyi). We grew up in a very dysfunctional household and her philosophy on dealing with our problems is to rehash our childhood and how we were treated and that never really worked for me which is why I love SCS. Now I’m really at a point where I need to keep distance from her which I never thought I would do in a million years. I’m ready to say goodbye to our old relationship. I feel so free and confident that I don’t need to depend on her for my happiness with my family. She hung up on me during our last conversation and she will tell our siblings that “that is out of character for her but “I” got her so angry”. I understand that that is impossible but I don’t know where to go from here. Should I just let her reach out when she is ready? I know you can’t answer that but at this point, I honestly do not want to reach out to her. It would not serve me in any way. She is used to me calling back, crying and begging for forgiveness. She is responsible for her actions and I need to let her do what she needs to do and to continue to work on me. I’m tired of trying to prove to my family that I’m no longer that “angry” child but then I slip up and further prove to them that I am. I guess I shouldn’t have to prove it them but to only prove it to myself.