A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling

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brigitte

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A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« on: June 16, 2019, 07:18:40 PM »
Hi, guys!
I’m a NPD sibling. My sister wasn’t diagnosed yet (or, if she did receive a diagnosis, we don’t know).
She presented a terrible behavior since her teenage years, although we thought back then that she had only a bad temper.
As she was growing older, she became more aggressive and other traits appeared: name calling, blaming, psychotic narrative, lying, being unable to sustain relationships, etc.
We lived altogether with my parents and my grandma. After my grandma passed away, and for some problems at work, I moved to another city and I started noticing how detached she was from everyone else. She started insulting my aunt, my parents (specially my father), some distant cousins. My father suspected she disconnected the phone, in order to alienate everyone else. It worked, because we gave up calling my parents frequently, cause the phone was out of service and my father doesn’t have the habit of checking his mobile phone.
Since she was more aggressive than ever, we started avoiding talking to her as well (me and my brother specially). Of course she felt even more detached from the family.
More recently, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s still in the beginning, but it is enough to say that my sister is acting even more aggressively. She even tried to turn a friend of mine against me (it didn’t work, though).
Now, the catholic/christian part: I think we can be blamed for that process of detachment. Since she was difficult (my psychologist suspects she is border, with a strong psychotic trait), we gave up on her. We avoided talking and interacting, although we didn’t cut our relationship.
I am aware of the 3 C’s: we didn’t cause, we didn’t control, we can’t cure. But, despite of that, I feel we contribute for her feeling of detachment and persecution.
Now, my mother being ill, I know she can’t take care of her, my parents don’t wanna move from her, and I’m afraid the entire situation will make her traits worse.
As a christian, as I catholic, should I try to become closer to her?
What’s the best catholic approach in this situation?

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StayWithMe

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Re: A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2019, 11:41:31 PM »
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But, despite of that, I feel we contribute for her feeling of detachment and persecution.

What do you get out of blaming yourself for your sister's behavior?

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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2019, 11:49:26 PM »
I’m sorry. I’m Catholic too, but I’m not really following what part of this is necessarily faith-related. Are you suggesting being Catholic somehow gives you a greater responsibility for your disordered sister?

Reducing your contact with your sister sounds like a just consequence for her behavior to me. We are not asked to turn the other cheek seventy times seven. :bigwink:

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brigitte

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Re: A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2019, 12:26:38 AM »
Being catholic/christian requires a higher standard. We need to love someone even though that person isn’t lovable. Sometimes we are required to do not what is purely rational, but what is needed to show some mercy. 
I was wondering if that is my case. We avoided her, due to her behavior, and she got worse. Maybe if I try to include her a little more, I’d be trying to be more compassionate about her situation. I know she impinges suffering on us, but she suffers too. It’s very sad to see someone in that destructive path. I know I can’t cure her, but maybe I’m called to show more patience.
So, answering your question: I think Christians are called to love in a way the world wouldn’t understand.
My dillema here is: I need to love myself as well and I need to preserve myself. That’s the reason I avoided contact. However, I also think I should show more patience.
How can I reconcile those apparent contradictory behaviors?

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Bloomie

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Re: A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2019, 12:30:14 PM »
brigitte - I am going to assume your sister is not mentally or physically ill and able to make good/bad choices for herself with this answer.

The law of sowing and reaping - consequences for our choices and behaviors, is inescapable for everyone no matter their beliefs, including you and me. Distancing ourselves from a harmful family member who is specifically targeting us and dishonoring others is appropriate.

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Since she was more aggressive than ever, we started avoiding talking to her as well (me and my brother specially). Of course she felt even more detached from the family.

It is a natural consequence for your sister's behaviors that you would distance yourself and that she would feel that distance. With a contrite person, a teachable person, when we love them enough to distance ourselves from their abusive behaviors the distance can lead to contrition and adjustment of their behaviors. It is not loving to try and swoop in and relieve the angst they have created and close the gap their behaviors are making in the relationships. That is not responsible, loving, honest actions to take with an abusive family member imv.

Where grace and patience come in for me, is in the processes of my own heart and mind as I work to remove any bitterness in myself toward this person and hold a steady position of love for myself and the other that allows me to acknowledge the wrongs done, be willing and ready to forgive (which does not necessarily mean be close to them again), and not to be further deceived by a family member that has a history of trouble making, abusive behaviors.

We are not responsible for the state of anyone else's relationships. Your sister is 100% responsible her behaviors and choices that have created a distant state in her familial relationships and the feelings that she may or may not have about that.

It is terribly hard to see someone we love so self destructive and unhappy. I have learned in my own life it is dangerous and unfair, on a certain level, to try and help ourselves feel better by circumventing the natural consequences for a family member's constantly offensive and harmful mistreatment of us and others by expressing our love and mercy toward them in ways that actually could do more harm than good.

I have tried to reestablish closeness with an abusive family member - gone the extra mile, overlooked offense after offense, thought I was showing love and mercy and forgiveness when there was zero evidence of contrition or even an acknowledgement of having harmed me, which I now know is not love at all, but a major misunderstanding of what Biblical love for one another looks like.

What I had to do was take some time and really seek clarity and understanding around all of this by reading scripture and examining all of this.

A great resource and help is the faith based book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. It might be a real relief to know what is yours to do in this situation and what is not. :hug:
« Last Edit: June 18, 2019, 01:21:19 AM by Bloomie »
"If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow." Dr. Caroline Leaf

Bloomie 🌸

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Call Me Cordelia

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Re: A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2019, 08:50:50 AM »
I agree with Bloomie!!!

That “higher standard” stuff sounds exactly like what my messed-up Catholic school would tell me. I was being bullied pervasively, sometimes by teachers, and they didn’t want to truly address the problem. It was easier for them to tell me to suck it up and be a saint.

Consider the traditional list of the spiritual works of mercy:
To instruct the ignorant;
To counsel the doubtful;
To admonish sinners;
To bear wrongs patiently;
To forgive offences willingly;
To comfort the afflicted;
To pray for the living and the dead.

Sure, “bear wrongs patiently” is in there, but so are “admonish sinners” and “instruct the ignorant.” This is not a to-do list for doormats.


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all4peace

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Re: A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2019, 09:07:09 AM »
Welcome and thank you for the good question.

As a Christian who came from an abusive and neglectful childhood and married into a likely PD family system, it became vital for me to understand the apparently simultaneously conflicting needs for loving others and loving myself. It was very helpful for me to read about how Jesus handled people. He loved them, but I only read of one resting on his chest, and only 3 were invited to pray with him through the night before he went to the cross. He loved deeply and freely, and he had very clear boundaries.

"Circles of intimacy" has been a useful topic for me to explore, and one I see demonstrated by Jesus repeatedly.

My best to you, as this is challenging and painful stuff.

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brigitte

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Re: A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2019, 11:45:15 AM »
Thank you, all! Your comments and advices were really insightful. I was interpreting my role as a catholic person wrongly. I see now, after reading your comments. I’ll try to remain open, but not necessarily close, in order to preserve myself.

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all4peace

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Re: A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2019, 06:41:03 PM »
To be clear, my loving Christian therapist sees no reason at all for me to spend any time whatsoever with my parents. Love does not always mean contact. Love can happen at a distance, in our hearts, in prayer. It can be loving to confront someone. It can be loving for us to give them space to get healing without doing more damage to us. I can forgive them from a distance, try to release any bitterness and care about their souls....AND have little or no contact with them.

I believe when we're trying to get these kinds of answers we need to be very honest with ourselves and introspective. We all have different personalities, resources, backgrounds and situations. I don't believe we'll all necessarily come to the same conclusion.

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1footouttadefog

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Re: A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2019, 11:02:44 AM »
There are many places in the bible where people who are persistent in sin are referenced.

There is the parable of the soils.

There is a repeated mention of hardened hearts and God leaving people alone to their consequences and devices.

There is the idea of not throwing pearls at a wine feet and instead moving on.

There is the idea of kicking the district from sandals and moving on when the message is not wanted.

In the book of proverbs one finds a lot od wisdom about not associating with those who have bad habits and alerting us to red flags so we are not taken down by them.


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HH

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Re: A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2019, 08:54:33 PM »
Hello and I can appreciate this as a spouse of a PD and also my own family of origin having many people who professes faith in God but very broken emotionally and relationally. From myself who has been in Christian ministry for 20 years - this is a very confusing and little understood and often misunderstood and damaging issue among Christians. One resource that has helped my reconcile faith and boundaries is a book called “Safe People” by Henry Cloud - who is a clinical therapist and also a strongly committed Christian. specifically the difference between “forgiveness” as a one-way act (as in Christ for us and not conditional) and “reconciliation” which is a two way movement of both parties toward each other willingly and not under duress.  You can forgive and not be reconciled because the other is not ready, willing, or able to respect safe boundaries. Their health and willingness to reconcile is not in your control - but as you keep open a door of reconciliation and make clear your own needs and safe boundaries, they can have a chance to move toward reconciling in time. If the other is not ready, willing, or able - it is not up to you and it’s not healthy for you to sacrifice your own health to try and make it right. However, I know how difficult and painful this can be specifically with a family member. My heart goes out to you - and I will pray for the gift of understanding and discernment as you seek to define your boundaries and still love your sister.

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Kat1984

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Re: A catholic and christian perspective on PD sibling
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2019, 12:22:08 PM »
To be clear, my loving Christian therapist sees no reason at all for me to spend any time whatsoever with my parents. Love does not always mean contact. Love can happen at a distance, in our hearts, in prayer. It can be loving to confront someone. It can be loving for us to give them space to get healing without doing more damage to us. I can forgive them from a distance, try to release any bitterness and care about their souls....AND have little or no contact with them.

I believe when we're trying to get these kinds of answers we need to be very honest with ourselves and introspective. We all have different personalities, resources, backgrounds and situations. I don't believe we'll all necessarily come to the same conclusion.

 :yeahthat:
Wow, I absolutely LOVE this.  It makes me feel so much better, having confronted my uBPD, and given her space to work out her own stuff, and loved her FROM A DISTANCE!   
It's just what I needed to hear.  Thank you