question about counseling

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burned out

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question about counseling
« on: May 19, 2016, 05:43:06 AM »
I am new to this site and grateful for any help or suggestions. I posted in the new section some background info. I have been dealing all my life with an only younger sister who I have decided after many years and other people first telling me about it has uNPD with mirroring, dissociation and not-my-fault  characteristics. I left home at as a teenager and have had fix-it issues out of leaving her, 12 at the time, with a physically abusive alcoholic father.
Recently our Mother passed and after years of feeling abused I have decided to set new boundaries going forward. In the course of doing this (and probably saying too much) she has basically told me that "I have these issues" and offered to go to counseling with me even though we live hundreds of miles apart. Feeling totally exhausted because she gets angry and throws tantrums accusations and then never apologizes, but wanting to keep the relationship for my children and because she is my only family left now, I recently agreed that maybe we should. I send her an e-mail making reference to a book about trauma PTSD and childhood abuse: The Body Keeps the Score, and another article about siblings and parental favoritism. I  suggested that since we lived far apart we could start out by reading the same information.
Her reply was because we have different communication styles (and we may) she would not read any of the information, but wants to address it only via a professional counselor.  I myself have previously been in counseling regarding my dealings with her and if I still had access to them, I think they would tell me not to expect any type of co-operation from her and not believe what she says. So I put her off and told her without her being honest (I recently asked her some direct questions regarding her taking my experiences and telling them as her own, which she won't acknowledge) and willing to co-operate by reading my information that I didn't think counseling would  be effective. I feel like its just something she is saying but not capable of really doing.
My question is am I being wrong or close minded to  think that? Has anyone been successful going to counseling with a person who has these PDs ? Over the years she has made references to her abuse and the suggestion has been made by myself and other friends that she needed counseling, but I don't think she ever found a counselor she could accept.
Thank you for any input.

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guitarman

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2016, 07:25:53 AM »
Hello burned out.

I wouldn't even ever consider going to a counsellor with my sister. It's something that would never happen. I don't think my sister could ever co-operate, she knows best.

However it is a good sign for you that your sister suggested going to see a counsellor together. She obviously realises that she needs help, which can only be good. You have a lot in common because of the abuse you both experienced in the past which has affected your relationship in the present.

It must be annoying for you that your sister won't even read the articles or the book that have helped you. Maybe she has been too traumatized by her own experiences and just can't cope with that at this time. She has to go at her own pace. Be gentle with her. Small steps. Her recovery is different to yours. She says that she is willing to address things but only with a trained counsellor present. There maybe something that she wishes to share with you but feels that she can only do that in a controlled environment.

I know about the Meriden Family Programme here in the UK. I know someone who was trained by them and have been to workshops that explained their work.

This link might be of help http://www.meridenfamilyprogramme.com/recovery/siblings

I know they produce videos about family therapy. I was trying to track down the one I was shown at the workshop but couldn't find it. You could search on YouTube for "Meriden family therapy" or just "family therapy" and see what is available. If I track the one down I saw I'll let you know.

I hope this is of some help. Keep posting.

Best wishes.


"Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace." - Dalai Lama

"You don't have to be a part of it, you can become apart from it." - guitarman

"Be gentle with yourself, you're doing the best you can." - Anon

"If it hurts it isn't love." - Kris Godinez, counsellor and author

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Summer Sun

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2016, 11:18:03 AM »
Hello Burned Out,

It sounds like she is receptive to counselling, that she does not feel safe discussing issues without a professional third party. 

She may view your gesture of providing information as intrusive, or an attempt to fix her, or that you have already placed yourself in a superior position, again, unsafe.  Perhaps you could have asked is she was receptive to receiving the information first, giving her the option? 

Confronting her now on your issues will put her on the defence, a good therapist may be able to have her face the impact of her actions for your issues, but it sounds like this is not something she can do on her own.

Wishing you the best whatever you decide moving forward.

SS
"The opposite of Love is not Hate, it's Indifference" - Elie Wiesel

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alonenow

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2016, 11:37:30 AM »
      I think when there are barriers to counselling  actually happening you mention you live far apart, the idea of agreeing to counselling is easy because she does not see it as happening.  Like saying lets do lunch when you know the other persons schedule will not line up with your own.  so many people PDs especially often agree to things that they think will not happen or they put up roadblocks / conditions if it seems to be close to happening.
It is completely reasonable for you to suggest reading same book ect and in my opinion anyone truly seeking a resolution or getting healthy  would not put off any suggestions.   In my own  experience and from reading many posts here on the site finding a GOOD person is not always easy. 

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daughter

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2016, 11:42:24 AM »
Consider whether her unwillingness to read several articles reveals her likely unwillingness to actually do counselling sessions with you as well.  She can say "let's do counselling", to deflect the commitment to read articles, with no intention to do counselling, and perhaps, without ability to productively "handle" counselling.  "Reading" is a tiny step; "counselling" requires a far larger commitment.


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Brigid O.

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2016, 11:53:58 AM »
Dear Burned Out:  My heart really goes out to you because I can identify with you wanting to do the "right" thing for your family.  Very recently, my PD sister started a huge push (after no contact with me for 8 years) to be in my life again.  She lives several states away.  I responded by letter, telling her that I would like to get together with her if she would change her behavior (not her own self, which I complemented as being sincere and capable of great generosity) -- but her behavior in raging at me, criticizing me and other family members, imposing her will on every situation.  Well, I carefully crafted the letter and what was her response?  "You're wrong about me."

Okay, so, based on my experience, and if your sister is like mine,  I would simply acknowledge to myself that (a) your sister MUST control the situation.  She MUST impose her will on you; and (b) any attempt to rationally resolve the situation, as in counseling, is doomed to failure. 

I'm sorry to be so negative.  But if you are like me, you are attempting to impose rationality and caring on a situation that cannot be resolved in that way because your sister is incapable of responding to those types of behavior in you. 

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SpringLight

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #6 on: May 19, 2016, 03:52:04 PM »
Oh, burned out.   :bighug: If you only knew (if I only had the energy to explain it all..)  I am in the same boat, in so many ways.

And Brigid O. and all of you, really.  :-\  Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights. Please know you have all my empathy.  The similarities of many of these stories, and my own-- still amazes me.

This very subject (consider counseling or not with sis?) was on my mind today, this week after yet another explosive rage by BPD sis left me emotionally and physically devastated.  I can almost predict the timing, now. As one one member of this group explained...in a way you can't control it, because the "crazy" is within them, not me. I see it as how BPDsis reacts to stress--the normal build-up of stress. The more stressed and feeling out of control she is, the more likely she will EXPLODE on ME.  And being hungry or tired are yet other known triggers for the egregious behavior.

And yet...it seems she can maintain her cool, even sweetness to others.  Not to everyone. I once observed her
cruel rage to a female friend of hers who has a similar temperament to mine.  This person was doing a major favor for sis, was being kind, gentle, and yet, in return, to my horror, I saw her lash out at this person in an unfair, cruel way.  That friend, like me, never stood up to her.  :sadno:

But, in the past 20 years the insanity TOWARDS ME has increased exponentially.  I am--or have been--an easy target.  I am currently working on MC, but struggling with her being uncomfortable with this, and increasing the need to "push my buttons."

I may be one of the oldest members of this forum, but definitely not the wisest! But, I've tried...For the first 60 years of my life, I was firmly of the belief that "love is the answer."  I'm still a little bit stuck there, maybe a LOT STUCK there.  :(

It was drilled into my head at an early age that for these troubled souls (poor things, they really need our all, our unwavering devotion, our love, our empathy, kindness, constant validation...even if it meant self-denial.)

Of course, the same rules didn't apply to me, the SG, if I dared even express my feelings.  If I dared stand up for my basic emotional needs (i.e. basic courtesy and respect) I was reprimanded by our parents for my "starting a fight."  How I HATE that I am blamed for the attacks!

I spent my entire life as the SG in the FOO. My entire life BPDsis relationship has been like this. All of my FOO has always been enabling of these tirades, tantrums.   No one really knows the full extent of this.  Our parents never spoke out about this abusive behavior, and therefore, I just accepted it as...my life.  And they accepted it, as well. It is so familiar! To compensate for her boorish behavior at times, she became a high-achiever.  Was from time to time, she was the GC. However, the middle brothers kind of usurped her of that role, and even outdid her, professionally. 

I perceive my life with her as similar to having an abusive, dominating alcoholic family member who no one sees drinking and being abusive in the home. (Incidentally, no alcohol abuse/use in my FOO. But I can certainly identify with the behavior!

Who was it here who mentioned that it took this poster about three days to recover from one of these incidents. THANK YOU! YES! YES!  So true.  I suppose it is the adrenaline, fight or flight response...

Argh! So much wasted time and energy!

There's no way I've found to lessen the impact of these brutal attacks.  I used to be very religious, and prayed all the time for her and our relationship. I still find myself "turning the other cheek," "acting out of love." "Be kind, you never know what another person is dealing with." etc.

I struggle immensely to give words to this LIFE-LONG pain, anguish, frustration, torment, exhaustion. But so many of you have helped me do that. 

A life-long struggle and I'm feeling so hopeless this week. I am. SO. BURNED OUT. Typically, after these encounters, I crash for DAYS. I think, from what I know of her, she simply moves on, and will forget everything.  Until the next unpleasant encounter...

Her usual tactic is, when asked by me to have a heart-to-heart /let's clear the air--AFTER THESE EXPLOSIONS, she will say, "not now. I'm too tired/busy." She loves to control the timing of everything! Then she (AND I have allowed this my entire life!!!) conveniently forget and keep doing the same age-old insanity. CRAZY!!! :stars: And I must be at least a little crazy for allowing this to continue.

So, the idea of counseling has come up, in my own mind.  I have had a lot of counseling through the years. Sis has had a few stints of counseling.  But, she NEVER ACCEPTS RESPONSIBILITY FOR HER BEHAVIOR, NEVER APOLOGIZES.  NEVER TO ME.

For some reason, as an adult, I have never had a problem with apologies. For my FOO, apologies are...well, I don't remember any, offhand. If I hurt someone, I want to know it ASAP, apologize, and MOVE ON...even if it wasn't my intent. What's the big deal???

Whenever even mildly, gently confronted by her behavior, sis replies ALWAYS, very defensively: "Yes, but what about all the horrible things you do, that I keep quiet about."  Ahhh, the woman is so noble and self-controlled, isn't she?

I finally had the courage to press her on this matter ("Ok...exactly WHAT HORRIBLE THINGS are you talking about????") and of course, she gave her typical response in her typically annoyed tone.  "No, I'm too tired, busy, etc. to discuss that NOW."  She never actually has presented any actual evidence to me, beyond an occasional almost ridiculously frivolous matter, often one that requires mind reading. (i.e, I didn't pick up the phone when I was on my way out to an appointment. She perceives this as me being "selfish and inconsiderate." End of story. Yeah, I know...gotta practice JADE, right?)

I wouldn't rule out the idea of counseling for my situation. (I just typed "sistuation! :tongue2: ) But the idea exhausts me at this point in my life. I am running on fumes, and have been for many years.

I am thinking of devising an "exit strategy" so that one day I can be extremely LC or even NC.  If I live that long!

AND--I am so weary of this damn topic dominating my life!

Feeling your pain, in total burn out, with no real help offered to you, but extending my EMPATHY and UNDERSTANDING.


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guitarman

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #7 on: May 19, 2016, 04:30:23 PM »
Hello SpringLight. It may have been me who mentioned it taking three days to get over an incident with my uBPD/uNPD sister. It takes that time to get back to feeling normal, calm and centered. All the adrenaline takes time to go away and for me to feel relaxed again.

Thank you for what you posted. I can relate to almost everything you wrote.

I find going to mental health carers groups very helpful. I was supposed to go to one tonight but I just can't get there. We share so much together. I've made some great friends all with similar problems trying to cope with someone in our lives with a serious long term mental condition, either diagnosed or undiagnosed.

I've learnt to talk more about my feelings. I use "I" rather than "you" which is difficult for me but I'm getting better at it. I've learnt that I do not have to keep putting my hand in the fire which I have been doing all my life.

I hope you find peace and calmness.

Best wishes.
"Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace." - Dalai Lama

"You don't have to be a part of it, you can become apart from it." - guitarman

"Be gentle with yourself, you're doing the best you can." - Anon

"If it hurts it isn't love." - Kris Godinez, counsellor and author

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SpringLight

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2016, 04:33:24 PM »
And another thing! :bawl:
(After that long post/rant)

My PD sis (and actually ALL OF MY N-FOO members)...have certain shared traits. It just dawned on me yet another shared trait. While most people would define us all as "nice" and "very likeable" "law-abiding" "good citizens/good people" ...we can be so damn ...what's the word???? ...self righteous!

I am certain that, even as a doormat, I absorbed some of this, which sounds counter-intuitive...In fact, I often wonder if I come across as  having tendencies of being "self-righteous about NOT BEING SELF-RIGHTEOUS!"   :-\

One of the huge problems I see in having counseling, in addition to everything that has already been mentioned in this thread is...complete lack of self-awareness.  Despite being extremely accomplished, articulate, very intelligent...my experience with NP and BPD people is that they can be astute about many things, but they do lack  real self-awareness.

AND--I believe that it would take MANY SESSIONS for any therapist to see sis behavior for what it is. She can be extremely sweet, charming, persuasive and portray a certain maturity, thoughtfulness mixed with an endearing (wounded child) vulnerability that a less-than-discerning therapist would see in a favorable light.  Just my opinion.

I'm also SO TERRIBLY EXHAUSTED about trying to UNDERSTAND HER. I don't want to focus my energies on her anymore. I can't get back all those lost years, but I can try to control my own life now. I hope to find counseling FOR ME, now.

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SpringLight

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2016, 04:40:24 PM »
Yes! Guitarman,  :yes: I thought it was you, but wasn't 100% certain when I typed that.

I have read many of your posts and found them to be spot-on.  Thank you for your contributions.  We do share a common bond.
I look forward to reading "you"--and many others-- in the future.










Hello SpringLight. It may have been me who mentioned it taking three days to get over an incident with my uBPD/uNPD sister. It takes that time to get back to feeling normal, calm and centered. All the adrenaline takes time to go away and for me to feel relaxed again.

Thank you for what you posted. I can relate to almost everything you wrote.

I find going to mental health carers groups very helpful. I was supposed to go to one tonight but I just can't get there. We share so much together. I've made some great friends all with similar problems trying to cope with someone in our lives with a serious long term mental condition, either diagnosed or undiagnosed.

I've learnt to talk more about my feelings. I use "I" rather than "you" which is difficult for me but I'm getting better at it. I've learnt that I do not have to keep putting my hand in the fire which I have been doing all my life.

I hope you find peace and calmness.

Best wishes.

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burned out

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2016, 09:02:06 PM »
I am so blown away by all your responses! Just to not be so isolated is gratifying.
Listening to all your stories, I feel that many of you are emotionally in the same place I am. I also feel like my leeriness of  wasting time on superficial counseling is right on.
Especially to Springlight, Brigid O and Guitarman it sounds like you have very similar experiences to my own and thank you for being so willing to share your stories, they were really moving to me.
As I get older and a hopefully a little wiser, I find it harder to allow negative people like my sister to use up my precious time and energy. I feel I must have self-compassion first. I've spent many years studying and practicing Buddhist meditation and some time with co-dependency. In dealing with my damaged uNPD sis, I try to think of her as a three year old throwing a tantrum, that helps me take her less seriously and not so personally.
 
I now also think it can be loving kindness to leave someone alone. I think that was how my Mother dealt with her. I would have to say she was in denial because she wouldn't talk about any dysfunction, negativity or abuse that took place, but she did leave my sis with the family house and move hundreds of miles away to live with her sister and closer to me and my family. So in a way she left her alone.

Over the years I used to struggle with "what did I do to her" to piss my sis off so much? Just last year, she told me after I left home our father would punch her and call her by my name. Now this is 45 years later mind you, so I don't know if its just another play the victim card or what. I can't tell if she's telling the "truth" and even believes herself or is trying to elicit a response or push my buttons so to speak. Either way, I concluded that my presence alone may trigger an emotional trauma response in her body that she has no control over, then the mind kicks in and makes up a story to rationalize the feeling ( I think I learned this from the book The Body Keeps the Score).
I did leave the door open to her so if in the future she feels more open we can have some dialog. I think Summer Sun may be correct that she thinks I'm trying to "fix" her with self-help info and feels too threatened so she won't go there. I told her if she will read the material, then I will re consider counseling, but I don't think that's a reality. I also told her that if we talk we could just stay in the present and I plan to limit my communications with her. Expect nothing and you won't be disappointed (hopefully, time will tell).
I will say one other thing, my upsets recently last much longer than 3 days. The disappointment feels like something I habitually have to endure and pull away from or just learn to allow it to be with me and then to let it go, or  focus on something else that makes me happy.
Thank you again, it feels great to have found this place and all of you. I look forward to learning more.

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SpringLight

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2016, 03:04:42 PM »
Yes, burned out. You are right. Not to be so isolated, to be heard and NOT dismissed... IS gratifying. It's so simple, but so very powerful.

I, too, have spent over 60 years wondering: "what did I do to make her behave that way with me?"  Decades of trying to understand her. I always wanted to have a loving, reciprocal relationship with her.  Nowadays I have to remind myself:  "I didn't cause this...can't control it....can't cure it."

PART of the answer is that, for years, I must concede is that I have (naively) ALLOWED it to continue.  Because I always thought and believed: "love is always the answer." I need to love, understand, tolerate, help her MORE. MORE, MORE, MORE.

Of course, being the SG, I accepted that this "BEING LOVED more and more"...did not apply to me...I never really analyzed that notion, just blindly accepted it.

As the years passed, I became more and more invisible in the FOO.

I was frequently (ALWAYS?) extremely frightened of her explosions, her suddenly inflicting her bad mood on me and instinctively I felt I needed to remain silent. Any other reaction seemed to add fuel to the fire. With the other major BPD personality in my life, my ex-h, I felt that I had to accept the "good with the bad." He had some wonderful attributes...so I tried to "forget" his periodic explosions. When he was good, he was very, very good. But when he was bad, he was horrid.  After many years, I realized: that's just plain low self-esteem at work. I thought I didn't deserve anyone better.

I forgive my childhood/adolescent/young adult/middle-aged  self who just didn't know better. My mother and other siblings would experience sis's moodiness/crankiness from time to time.  But not the rages, nastiness, and rudeness.

Naively, I kept hoping that someone (my parents?) would validate what I had been experiencing within the family. Take a stand against the bullying, mean attacks, etc. But, they never did.  It was always referred to as us "fighting again" and I was at least 50% to blame."  HUH?!

Friends of mine had observed certain things, at times, but they felt unsure about intervening. I can understand that.

At last I am realizing that , the "validation" from the FOO will never come. But, NEWSFLASH: that doesn't make it less real!

Does it really matter FOR YOU or ME to know/analyze/ what "trauma" caused the behavior?  Perhaps what she's saying is true, but
isn't it HER responsibility, as an adult, to deal with that? 

We've all had things happen to us that hurt us, to one degree or another. Some of it is tragic and traumatic, yes. But, we can't "fix" the broken in them.  :sadno: Loving more and more is NOT the answer with PD's.


You wrote:
"Either way, I concluded that my presence alone may trigger an emotional trauma response in her body that she has no control over, then the mind kicks in and makes up a story to rationalize the feeling ( I think I learned this from the book The Body Keeps the Score)."

Wow.  Good food for thought... Sounds fascinating and may very well explain the inexplicable BPD/PD behavior.  I was not aware of this book. Would you recommend we read it?


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burned out

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2016, 04:51:52 AM »
Springlight,
 I agree with you, its not for us to analyze whatever trauma happened to someone else. Its too subjective. My hope is that there be enough self-awareness for her to stop expecting other people (me) to meet her demands and then become angry when I don't comply, but that may not be a possibility.
I would recommend this book. Much of it relates to PTSD, but the parts about behavior regarding childhood trauma were very insightful and gave me a different point of view about the way our emotions felt in the body effect and influence our thinking. Its highly rated on Amazon. I can't post an outside link here but the title is The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk M. D.

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Foreignwoman

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2016, 07:55:21 PM »
Burned out,

It can also be possible that your sister wants to go to therapy with you to try to triangulate the therapist against you.   :no:

FW
Freedom is never voluntary given by the oppressor, it is demanded by the oppressed.

Martin Luther King, Jr

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PDinStereo

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Re: question about counseling
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2016, 12:24:49 PM »
Eventually it came out with my family that they feel I have some kind of edge on them in discussing family issues and that they believe having a "neutral" therapist in their corner will redress the balance and allow them to talk to me "safely." I told them that as long as they're going to persist in seeing me as a persecutor that the therapist will rescue or protect them from, I do not believe any form of long-distance therapy could help us and we'd be better off addressing that dynamic on our own. I've read many transcripts of family therapy sessions and to me it looks like PDs feel free to say even worse things in the presence of a therapist than they would otherwise, and the therapist will be too busy trying to deal with the long-festering untreated problems of the PD to appropriately deal with the pain this will cause you. Or worse, the therapist's own untreated "rescuer" stuff could come out and help make the triangulation attempt successful. Then you're left facing a triggered, professionally-trained manipulator working out their own suppressed problems on your back. That's already happened to me once with my parents. Better to talk to a therapist yourself about how to best deal with your sister, in my opinion.