Losing my sis, my last decent FOO relationship (long)

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Iguanagos

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Losing my sis, my last decent FOO relationship (long)
« on: August 19, 2015, 03:22:00 PM »
I am GC (conditional, though, and solely based on my obedient personality and good grades, not on ďmeĒ, per se), and SGsister and I have always been close.  SGsis had a rough life and chose a very challenging career path, with no encouragement and almost no support from any FOO except me.  We are now 50-ish.

I began to notice issues with SGsis about 10 years ago.  A lot of what appear to be OCPD - strange rituals, rigid opinions on how everything should be done, and most concerning, not allowing or encouraging her son, my nephew, to go through normal milestones of growing up Ė i.e., driving, getting a part time job, joining any after school activities, taking on any chores around the house.

At first I just thought it was a little odd, but as nephew got older and fell farther behind his peers, it became more glaring.  He never went out and found a job; SGsis had to instead find him a position in the military (which he failed out of).  Nephew started college (which his mom fully paid for), failed out.  Nephew did not want to drive and did not drive until early 20ís, and then only because it was required by another position, also arranged by his mom.  When I asked why SGsis didnít let her son do any work around the house, she said, ďHe wonít do it rightĒ.  I said, ďWell, then thatís your opportunity to teach him how to do itĒ, but that went nowhere.

I started out thinking my nephew was just plain lazy, a typical millennial who expects everything to be handed to him, but Iíve come to realize that my SGsis is probably enabling her son.  She continues to pay his cell phone bill, I believe she is somehow paying his rent and food, nephew never got an education or a trade skill, and I have not heard he is working.  Heís now mid-twenties, casual relationships but nothing serious as far as I know, and just nothing in front of him to be working for.  SGsis talks tough, as in ďIím going to let him figure it outĒ, but then, she goes ahead and pays for everything so he actually doesnít have to figure anything out.

I also realized my SGsis and I both probably have some serious codependency issues from our upbringing.  We were both made to feel responsible for N/BM and EFís happiness.  For example, I recently injured myself while visiting sis, and she blamed herself even though she had nothing to do with my injury.  She couldnít accept that this somehow wasnít her fault.  And she has blamed herself for many of her sonís issues, even though her son is now fully grown up, at least chronologically.  And I have taken on far too much responsibility for communication in the FOO, something I am actively working on.

And thereís something even more insidious I am afraid of:  I fear that my SGsis is unconsciously keeping her son tethered to her because she fears letting him go and losing him.  He is her only child, sis is not married but has a serious BF.  But her son is sort of her security blanket, her fail-safe relationship, and I totally understand this anxiety because our parents really left her out to dry.

After years of slowly waking up to what was going on, coming OOTF myself, and my nephew growing up, I could not ignore it any more.  The last few years Iíve tried addressing it gently, not pressuring, but I now really fear her sonís future is at stake.  He is all too happy to let his mom keep him fed, clothed, and coddled, but I am finding it harder to just stand by and watch this happen and act like I think itís okay.  It feels like collateral damage from our own FOO, and seems to be really unfair to my nephew because itís keeping him stunted.  He deserves to make adult choices and face adult consequences.  However, I read somewhere that if two people are locked in a codependent dance, but they are both happy with the situation and you are on the outside and donít like the situation, you are the one with the problem. 

Sis and I had a talk, and she feels I went too far in expressing my opinion.  I said it was important to face how she might be contributing to her sonís failure to launch.  I didnít understand codependency at the time, but I had finally realized none of this would be happening if she were not enabling him.  If she stopped supporting him, making his choices for him, and rescuing him from his own bad decisions, he would have to grow up, become a mature adult and support himself Ė and go live his own life.  This thought seems to terrify her.  My sis recoiled at all this, and in fact, she said I reminded her of our N/BM, with my pressuring talk, and that really stung.  She gave me ST for a few months as well, something that has never happened between us.

So Iím hurt, Iím frustrated, and I feel helpless watching two people I love perpetuate dysfunction into a new generation.   Iíve been questioning whether I really have some serious fleas to eradicate as well.  I called her after a few months, and she admitted to the ST and told me that all this was her problem, so I should butt out. I sincerely apologized (a real apology, not a fauxpology) several times for overstepping my bounds.  But even so, sheís keeping me at armís length now, LC.  I feel Iíve lost the one remaining good relationship I had in the FOO, so it feels like a death to me. 

I am giving her space and letting her decide the next move, but Iím also angry because this is the only time I fully expressed my opinion, and Iíve been banished as a result.  We should be able, as mature adults, to occasionally have difficult conversations and work through our differences and move forward.  She has her BF now, so she doesnít need me like she used to.  I feel somewhat disposable to her now as a result, and that hurts.  I have never treated her that way, never given her ST, even though she has hurt me as well on various issues over the years.  Iíve been there for her, Iíve supported her, and Iíve come to her aid many times and also stood up to N/BM and EF for her in her NC absence with them. 

So I feel like just backing away from the whole thing.  Leave my SGsis and her son to themselves, try to not care that my nephewís best years are just passing him by.  I also think I need to fully stop any facilitation of communication between them and the parents.  I was never a full on FM, but did serve as an unofficial conduit between them for important messages, and I know thatís not healthy in the long run.

So if youíve managed to read this far, do you have any thoughts or suggestions for me?  I miss my sister deeply; as most of you know we ACONs don't usually have many close relationships.  But between the OCPD, the codependency, the fleas, and the aging Narents issues, Iím not sure thereís breathing room for a healthy relationship anymore.  Thanks so much for reading.  Itís been helpful just typing it out, but I sure could use some advice.

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brownies

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Re: Losing my sis, my last decent FOO relationship (long)
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2015, 04:09:43 PM »
I can really relate to your story. If you can try to stay in touch with your sister, I'm sure it will help you both.

My last son, was failing to launch in his early 20's and I worried that I was enabling him by letting him stay here--and I had a BF but realized it was okay to 'let myself be happy', and we got married. I continued to pressure my son to go get a job while beefing up my encouragement at the chores he did around the house. I knew my son was stagnating and healing from hurt after his dad dropped out of his life at 18--but see, we can't let that be an excuse either.

At first, when he was just 18, I still felt I had to 'mom him'....but as time went on, he being an adult, needed to act like one and I had to push him to get a job. It was not 'for me'....but 'for him', to not let life go by him in his best years. I sat him down and told him that ultimately MY life will not get better if he got a job, HIS life would be better. One day, totally unexpected, he said, I'm moving and I'll find a job, and he did. It was heart wrenching but good. I have my H here, and the empty nest was kind of tough for a while.

He wrote me last week, told me he was promoted at his job, all about his life, it was wonderful!!!!

My H and I debated on whether we were too enabling or too hard on him while he lived here, we've probably had that conversation about a dozen times.

In my mother's generation, one of the uncles lived with grandma and grandpa until their deaths, his whole life. Sometimes that happens. He never married.

I hope you get your sister back, as a friend to you. I think your discussions with her and your apology were well intentioned and it shouldn't ruin your relationship with her. :hug:
If you like fireworks, just say "NO".

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bunnie

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Re: Losing my sis, my last decent FOO relationship (long)
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2015, 09:25:18 PM »
Iguanago,

I feel your pain.  My sister and I have had our differences over the years, just like any siblings.  But, she's been accusing me of all sorts of craziness this year.  Even if the accusations were 100% true, I don't understand why she is not willing to hear my side of the story and work things out.  She's totally shut me out now. 

With her going LC and giving you the ST, it is very hard to say what your next move should be.  I'm still navigating my situation so I can't offer any advice as to what will help you move towards healing the relationship with her.  I just wanted to share a bit about my experience so you'll see you're not alone.

It is very painful.  And you're right it does feel like a death.
To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize - Voltaire

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Iguanagos

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Re: Losing my sis, my last decent FOO relationship (long)
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2015, 08:00:02 PM »
brownies,
Thank you so much.  Itís really good to hear your story and especially to hear how things eventually worked out, and your son did it all on his own too!  Thatís very encouraging.  I hope my nephew will be as fortunate, for his own sake.

bunnie,
Thanks, youíre right, itís so good to know that weíre not alone.  I hope you and your sister are able to repair the relationship.  If thereís hope, it seems to be worth trying.

Itís a sad legacy, isnít it, that the pain and dysfunction from our own upbringing can be perpetuated even after we come OOTF.  The damage from our parents was deep and fundamental, and the scars will exist long after the parents are gone. 

There was a thread recently, something along the lines of ďwill I ever get past this?Ē, and I recall some saying, ďno, the damage is a part of meĒ.  I think of it like the lines on my face, grooves put there over years of expression.  No amount of Botox would eliminate them now, so I have to learn to accept them, but not let them define me. 

I know my sister is struggling with her own FOO issues, made especially hard due to her being SG.  I love her and miss her and really want her to be truly happy.  Hopefully weíll be able to rebuild some of the love and trust that appears to be shaken.  I hope so.

Thanks so much for your kind thoughts.    :hug:

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Is This Normal

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Re: Losing my sis, my last decent FOO relationship (long)
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2015, 12:59:17 AM »
Iguanago,

I just wanted to say how sorry I am that you are experiencing this rift with your only sister. And to say that I read your whole post with no difficulty as it is a compelling story that was very well written.

The only thing that comes to me at the moment about your situation is that I expect that given a little more time, things will become more clear, if not necessarily more easy. I think you will know in time what your next steps ought to be. In the meantime, I think what you're doing is huge, and you're reaching a newer, deeper level of awareness, as painful as that may be right now.

I can relate a bit too to the grief at the thought of losing your sister. I have one older brother who I hold at arms length due to FOO issues and what I see as his continued enmeshment with our unPD parents. We were pretty close for a time in our late teens into early adulthood. We both went into therapy for depression, and that's where our paths seemed to irrevocably diverge. It seemed as time went on that he was acting more and more like our parents and adopting attitudes of theirs that I found repugnant. Since I've gone LC with our folks, he's gotten very tight with my mother (as my replacement?), and though it's pretty mild, he's been exhibiting some flying monkey behaviors. So I've chosen to distance myself from him as well. It's like they're a matched set that cannot be separated. And there's always an undercurrent of resentment, hurt, and passive-aggressiveness because I chose to break away. I realize this situation has many differences with yours, but again I do relate to feeling like I have no FOO connections anymore.

As for your nephew, that would be incredibly difficult to watch without wanting to intervene in some way. What comes to me there, though, is that your nephew is technically an adult, even if he's emotionally immature because of his enmeshment with his mother.  They're both adults now, and have the right to continue on in their codependant relationship. I think in expressing yourself to your sister, you've done al you could. It's up to them. At least you know you've said your peace and you know she knows where you stand, so you at least don't have to carry around that weight of things unsaid.And while your sister's reaction may not have been particularly healthy or mature, that may have been the best she could do in that circumstance, hearing her only sister tell her her relationship with her son is disfunctional and may have harmed him. Those would be hard words to hear, most of all if they were true. She may have some inkling way deep down about this, but if she isn't ready or willing to face it, then her pulling away from you would make sense.  You've pointed out the elephant, and as long as you're in the picture it can't be unseen.

Again, I'm sorry.Hang in there!

-ITN-

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SaltwareS

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Re: Losing my sis, my last decent FOO relationship (long)
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2015, 01:35:11 AM »
Iguanago - you took a risk for your nephew, and all you did was talk to your sister. IMHO you DID THE RIGHT THING.

Sometimes people will "back off" after hearing constructive criticism, and not speak for quite a while. And then after even a ST they will cautiously reconnect. Maybe your sister will do so.

PD parents, even NON-PD parents, do this to their last kid without even realizing it. I have read that a lot of millenials are experiencing this with their parents.

The technical term is "individuation" and it does not always happen naturally. Think of tribal cultures where the adolescent male is sent away on a year-long journey and to return to the tribe as a man. This is a ritual and the family sends him away, he would not necessarily leave on his own!

Yes you took the risk that your sister may not speak to you anymore. But you had to do it, you did it from a place of love. 

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brownies

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Re: Losing my sis, my last decent FOO relationship (long)
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2015, 01:57:58 AM »
The technical term is "individuation" and it does not always happen naturally. Think of tribal cultures where the adolescent male is sent away on a year-long journey and to return to the tribe as a man. This is a ritual and the family sends him away, he would not necessarily leave on his own!

Yes you took the risk that your sister may not speak to you anymore. But you had to do it, you did it from a place of love.
Exactly!
The LDS (mormon) families send their children off to be missionaries when they come of age. The Amish have a similar tradition, sending their children off in a tradition called Rumspringa to experience the world.
<non serious thing coming up> Catholics just beat their children to get them to leave, or wait, maybe it was just my Catholic folks </non serious thing>
If you like fireworks, just say "NO".