Processing siblings now that I'm certain about parents

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Oscen

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Processing siblings now that I'm certain about parents
« on: July 05, 2021, 01:20:53 PM »
Both my parents are most definitely toxic. This has taken me a while to accept but it's undeniable. I'm no contact with them both.

I'm left thinking how to deal with my siblings, who I'm not no contact with, but it's very very minimal and all electronic. We don't have that typical golden-child, scapegoat situation, although I think all of us have been scapegoated and golden-childed at various times. Some of my sisters seem pretty bad at identifying when M is triangulating us with one another, presenting one of us as the GC to the other sister, but not directly to the "GC". M has done this to me and another sister at least once - talked me up to one sister to make that sister feel bad about herself and disrupt our relationship - but M never gave those compliments to me! So there's toxic dynamics but not that clear-cut GC/SC situation.

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Oscen

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Re: Processing siblings now that I'm certain about parents
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2021, 01:21:34 PM »
My eldest sister (will call her S1) has often confused me. Staunch churchgoer (and we're not American so it's not really typical behaviour!), has always loved looking after kids... but also rigid, struggles to be empathetic and behave flexibly, adaptably or responsively because I think she genuinely doesn't understand emotions, power dynamics, normal expectations in relationships or how to behave in normal power hierarchies like a workplace, a family, or a friendship group. Our mother was super-abusive to her in our childhood and twenties; I really think M hated her - or at least I've heard her speak about her and to her as if she does. S1 used to shrink down when this was happening. It hasn't happened in front of me recently enough, so I've never intervened or questioned it openly.

S1 has been generous towards me many times and helped me out, while I've remained locked in my own head and silent (so I have some feelings of obligation and guilt there).  I appreciate S1's help, although it feels like it comes with the expectation that I agree with her and validate her on everything she thinks in exchange. She doesn't cope well with differing opinions.

 As she's the eldest, she's taken this power dynamic to heart, but I realised that she's insanely connected to the idea of the being the oldest - she got upset when I introduced myself to a family friend as " I'm so-and-so and S1's sister" and didn't say S1's name first, because the family friend was closer to the other sister! She came up to me looking worried, and told me that that was the wrong order!

I've given her the benefit of the doubt as I'd assumed she's autistic (I'd assumed my father possibly was too, although now covert narc is looking more and more likely for him). She fits many descriptors - in fact, everyone in our family does, including me. Not sure where CPTSD ends and the spectrum begins - though obviously they can overlap.

Recently, I skyped her, which I don't often. I appreciated she wanted to make the effort, but when we spoke I realised I don't feel connected to her or safe, and I felt it was more about her desire to do the right thing because that's the right thing to do. Whether it's about being seen to do the right thing (narcissitic) or it's about going through some sort of ritual or she's getting more out of talking about her interests but not her emotions (more autistic) I don't know. I don't really feel safe around her though; not emotionally. She idolises my mother and is completely under the fog; I've never heard her actually make any critical observations about my mother or our family dynamic. Any criticism she levels is essentially what M would say about another family member.

She did one thing that made me feel particularly uncomfortable; she criticised a coworker for not knowing something going on in politics, that S1 did (it's not directly relevant to their job). She seemed to want to really condemn that person and claim that the person shouldn't be doing the job because they didn't know this marginally relevant piece of news. She also seemed to expect me to join in with condemning that person - she didn't ask for my opinion, but she went up with her voice after criticising and then paused, waiting for my response. I didn't join in as I felt uncomfortable and sort of fobbed her off and changed the subject. After all, if she'll criticise the hell out of someone I don't even know to me, over something so petty and trivial, just to make herself feel good, then what on earth does she say about me behind my back?

Within my family, this is typical behaviour - complain about a person and criticise them because they don't know something. It doesn't have to be particularly relevant to the situation! My mother was doing this the last time I visited years ago, and I was feeling very uncomfortable then. It was a similar situation - just a piece of general knowledge that's good to know, but not essential. I know I used to do this too, but I've stopped. Luckily or unluckily for me, my partner doesn't get drawn into this, so I've come to realise that I was seeking emotional validation from condemnation, especially hoping to feel superior and invalidate others.

Anyway, I'm not sure I want to keep communicating with S1 as I don't like this dynamic, but I also feel guilty about just cutting contact as I haven't  addressed it directly wit her yet. I feel as though I should give her at least one chance before going NC.

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Oscen

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Re: Processing siblings now that I'm certain about parents
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2021, 01:31:10 PM »
What do you think if I sent her a message along the lines of:

Hi S1, thanks for catching up. I'm glad that you want to stay in touch and have a better relationship, because I do too.

I'd like to let you know about something that's been bugging me since we caught up. You criticised your coworker for not knowing about X.

It bothered me because you seemed to condemn her for not knowing this piece of information. It made me wonder - what happens if I don't know something? Will you think less of me, as a person, or in doing my job X? Will you criticise me behind my back too?

I feel like I can't be close to someone and share personal information unless I trust them. This means not judging me for small things, not talking about me behind me back, and not criticising or invalidating me.

Please consider how you'd like our relationship to look going forward, and let me know your thoughts.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. -Me