Grieving the loss

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Coyote23

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Grieving the loss
« on: September 03, 2021, 01:44:23 PM »
I am no contact with 4 out of 5 of my siblings. Two of them tried to take me to court over our momís estate, one went off the rails of misinformation and conspiracy and became nasty, another was disrespectful and nasty to my child and would not apologize to the child when asked. Itís a mess, I donít see any upsides to repairing.

I could use help with feeling like a failure at having siblings. I could use help with getting out of the mindset of seeing myself the way they see me. I have achieved a good measure of career and relationship success but if you ask them Iím an irresponsible teenager. I feel like the way my siblings have treated me has resulted in me feeling like I donít matter, nobody cares about me or my husband and kids  (my parents were P.D. and they are both deceased), everything I say is stupid or ignorant and that I should just be quiet. It has affected my ability to make friends and open up to people. It can affect my relationship with my husband. Does anyone have strategies for getting out of the mindset? Iím unable to get in to see my therapist because of scheduling conflicts, so Iím hoping to find additional strategies while Iím waiting for an availability to pop up.

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chowder

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2021, 10:23:04 AM »
Coyote,

The way your siblings have treated you says everything about them and their behavior, and it is not about you.  And for them to be disrespectful to your child, and refusing to apologize on top of that, is disgraceful.  I hope you are limiting the contact, for many reasons - not the least of which is that you don't want to subject your child to that treatment, or for your child to see that that is how to deal with situations.

I grew up with an abusive sibling, and because of that, have had more than my share of trust issues.  If those close to you will hurt you, why open up to anyone?  It's a work in progress, and I keep reminding myself that I did nothing to warrant that abuse, and I could not change or control it.   Luckily, in adulthood, I could choose to avoid it.

Let your pendulum swing to the positive side, and keep your focus on all your successes.  Their dysfunction is not a reflection on you.  It will take time, but perhaps the more you go LC or NC with them, the more you can realize that the rest of the world is not like they are. 

You deserve respect and inner peace.

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sandpiper

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2021, 08:21:21 PM »
Heya. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.
Honestly, I've been working on this for decades and while you can work on that wound so it's not festering & weeping, the scar tissue is always there & it aches on a bad day.
My T talked about shifting your trajectory and changing habits.
The book that helped me with this one was a local book I found here in Australia - Sarah Edelman's 'Change your Thinking'. You should be able to find it on the major online book sellers.
It had some really good strategies for shifting your mindset, but I think the other big thing was just having the support and the empathy of people at these boards.
It's a huge loss, not to have your siblings.
My T pointed out to me that for most of us, our siblings are the most important people we have with us as companions on our life's journey.
For me that experience of having siblings and cousins felt more like being shipwrecked, floundering out of my depth in a storm-tossed sea, and being shackled next to people who would push me under in order to save themselves. When I talked about that feeling with my T it led to the realisation that I needed to unshackle myself and swim to safety if the rest of the family weren't going to do what was necessary to get us out of that mess together.
FWIW in the particular career that I chose, a lot of people opened up to me that they had at least one sibling or parent that they really disliked & were often estranged from. It's more common than people let on. And unfortunately the scapegoating tactic of disordered families means that the one who seeks help and works hard to find a healthier way to live is in therapy because that one is being targeted by all the other members in the family.
It really is difficult to go through this. It's just important, I think, to shift your trajectory so that over time it just keeps getting easier because you have better support, better skills, and less FOG about stepping out of that.

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Coyote23

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2021, 01:03:27 PM »
Coyote,

The way your siblings have treated you says everything about them and their behavior, and it is not about you.  And for them to be disrespectful to your child, and refusing to apologize on top of that, is disgraceful.  I hope you are limiting the contact, for many reasons - not the least of which is that you don't want to subject your child to that treatment, or for your child to see that that is how to deal with situations.

I grew up with an abusive sibling, and because of that, have had more than my share of trust issues.  If those close to you will hurt you, why open up to anyone?  It's a work in progress, and I keep reminding myself that I did nothing to warrant that abuse, and I could not change or control it.   Luckily, in adulthood, I could choose to avoid it.

Let your pendulum swing to the positive side, and keep your focus on all your successes.  Their dysfunction is not a reflection on you.  It will take time, but perhaps the more you go LC or NC with them, the more you can realize that the rest of the world is not like they are. 

You deserve respect and inner peace.

Chowder,
Thank you so much for this heartfelt response. Iím back in therapy and the last session she brought up the spark that was always in me that resisted seeing myself the way that the siblings see me, and I was able to remember how the rest of the world for the most part thinks Iím a good person. I think the thing that lingers now is the loneliness and envy of the people around me who have siblings and families to gather on holidays. Iím sad that my child has no aunts or uncles or cousins. But she does. They are just selfish and rude and I have to protect her from them and that? Is really depressing and sad! But moving through these feelings is helping me release some of this pain and I hope that as the Covid numbers stabilize in our area that we can get back to making some friends to fill the gap.

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Coyote23

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2021, 01:14:07 PM »
Heya. Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.
Honestly, I've been working on this for decades and while you can work on that wound so it's not festering & weeping, the scar tissue is always there & it aches on a bad day.
My T talked about shifting your trajectory and changing habits.
The book that helped me with this one was a local book I found here in Australia - Sarah Edelman's 'Change your Thinking'. You should be able to find it on the major online book sellers.
It had some really good strategies for shifting your mindset, but I think the other big thing was just having the support and the empathy of people at these boards.
It's a huge loss, not to have your siblings.
My T pointed out to me that for most of us, our siblings are the most important people we have with us as companions on our life's journey.
For me that experience of having siblings and cousins felt more like being shipwrecked, floundering out of my depth in a storm-tossed sea, and being shackled next to people who would push me under in order to save themselves. When I talked about that feeling with my T it led to the realisation that I needed to unshackle myself and swim to safety if the rest of the family weren't going to do what was necessary to get us out of that mess together.
FWIW in the particular career that I chose, a lot of people opened up to me that they had at least one sibling or parent that they really disliked & were often estranged from. It's more common than people let on. And unfortunately the scapegoating tactic of disordered families means that the one who seeks help and works hard to find a healthier way to live is in therapy because that one is being targeted by all the other members in the family.
It really is difficult to go through this. It's just important, I think, to shift your trajectory so that over time it just keeps getting easier because you have better support, better skills, and less FOG about stepping out of that.

Sandpiper,
Thanks for this comment. To your point about this being more common than people let on: I wish we as a society could normalize things like estrangement, no-contact, dysfunctional relationships in families rather than blame the victims for not having a picture perfect life. It IS a huge loss not to have our siblings. The thing you wrote about always having the wound, and the scar tissue hurting more on some days than others (maybe itís just the rain) reaaaaally resonated with me. The permission to not ďbe healed and move onĒ is tremendous. We have lived this. These are our scars. ItísÖ..ok. Iíll check out that book your T recommended.  But if Iím going to shift my mindsetÖ.I have one great sibling. I glossed over that. We have been slowly building a healthier adult relationship over the past six years since we reconnected. We were both able to apologize for the things we had said and done to each other in the past that was hurtful. We came together to deal with some very unpleasant logistics around our parentsí estates. And we talk about once a week. He lost his partner very suddenly and was able to turn to me and I take that very seriously and feel like itís an honor to support him, although itís really hard for me to see him suffering and not want to ďfix itĒ (but my journey as the unloved daughter is to back off of compulsive people-pleasing and fixing behavior and just sit there with people in their pain and listen and empathizeóbut thatís probably another post.)

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Hepatica

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2021, 01:55:25 PM »
I feel quite the fail when it comes to my sibling and large part of the extended family too. When I hear about or see my friends who are so close with their siblings and so loving, I get the worst feeling of loss.

This is generational healing. Somewhere along our family lines something went terribly wrong and the unconsciousness went down the family line. There is a puritanical streak in my family on my father's side. Its general mindset is that children should not be coddled, or seen, or get too big for the britches and challenge a parent, and physical and mental abuse is okay to make the children toe the line. It's all about control. There is no trust. On my father's side there have been a number of suicides and I suspect at least one of them was a kid who did not toe the line, who questioned, who fought back, created waves and then the family turned on them. Everybody wants the family to just keep on doing the same old thing, even if it is seriously fraught.

Your post has given me a lot to think about in terms of myself. I guess I resisted. I became the liberal in a very conservative mindset family. I didn't fit in and then I asked a few questions and set a few boundaries, and boom... they all began to covertly turn against me. When my parents die, it will be my very loyal sister who will get all of what my parents have. I will have to be punished long-term.

I now have got to learn to not punish myself. I have to accept that trying to live inside of a family that bequeathed me the scapegoat, scarlet letter, will always pick on me and the only thing I can do is spend the rest of my life telling myself that I am okay. I don't have to believe their view of me. It's really hard at times. Really, really hard. But as you said, I too, don't see any upsides to repairing. At all. I'd have to stuff everything somewhere inside and it would make me sick. They will never, unless some miracle occurs, feel compassion for me.

You are not a failure. You were merely born into a family that was unhealthy. That toxicity gets spread and the ones who refuse to try to heal it, throw all their unresolved issues onto the scapegoat. My only recipe for this is to back away and heal. I have to work continually on removing their negative view of me from my own self-image. As someone said, coming to these boards helps and I have a made a few friends now who understand my situation because they too are estranged from their families of origin.

I'm so happy to read that you've found one sibling that you feel good with. I hope that the both of us and anyone reading this who resonates with it, begins to feel with absolute certainty that we do matter, we are loved and lovable, and that we are able to heal the trauma that makes us have trust issues, so that we can start to build a good group of friends who invite us over for holidays. I would love to have this, as I've been feeling so lonely too, around holidays and so envious of those who have secure, loving FOO's.

ďThere is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's
still a sureness in you, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where
there is a confidence and tranquility." John O'Donohue

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Jolie40

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2021, 03:26:32 PM »
I could use help with feeling like a failure at having siblings.

I went NC with siblings at time of going NC with PD parent due to an overly chaotic year

don't regret it because my health is SO much better
constant stress is not good for our bodies

don't see it as my failure

I was SG so siblings took on that & also treated me as SG
once I couldn't attend family mtg cause my child had an activity near Christmas

after mtg, got call from one sibling that it was "my fault" they made changes re Christmas gifts
yet I wasn't at mtg!  yep blame the SG

it's NOT our fault & often not even our siblings fault
too much childhood dysfunctional dynamics to overcome with having a PD parent
everyone is affected by the chaotic childhood & some siblings don't even realize it was chaotic!
« Last Edit: October 15, 2021, 03:33:47 PM by Jolie40 »
be good to yourself

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bets

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2021, 02:44:24 AM »
I hope it's not too late to chime in. I have benefited so much from everyone else's answers!

I was the SG and the oldest, the only girl. There was a time when I wouldn't have revealed that much about myself, because I was afraid my siblings would read here. LOL, that's pretty disordered thinking right there!

It's really hard to separate from siblings. Speaking for myself, I really loved them. As the oldest, I felt like I "raised" them, though as a child myself I couldn't do so. Still, I sensed that something was terribly wrong with our parents and tried to make it up to them. Heck, it was obvious that there was no one to teach them to swim or ride a bike, so I did those things.

As adults, I thought us sibs were all friends, and in fact I continued to love and try to help them as much as possible (I realize that wasn't healthy on my part(. Our contact with our father was minimal because he was so dangerous. It never occurred to me that my brothers would bond with him and reject me. But they did. I found this out when he died (sibs were ok with my disinheritance) and in the years that followed (when they ghosted me, constantly).

I understand your pain. I spent a long time trying to fix it, trying to figure out what to do to make things right. I tried to drown my hurt about the disinheritance (not the money, just their acceptance of it). I continued to give more kindness and more and more. Finally, quite recently, I gave up trying and it feels great.  I would never have stopped trying except for I got sick and the stress of dealing with them made me worse.

 I spent a lot of time on boards like this one, trying to get help for the terrible pain of being estranged from my brothers. It was an underlying sadness that traveled with me. I couldn't understand the unfairness of it -- my father had truly treated me in an evil fashion, yet they were honoring his memory and rejecting me.  It had to be me. I must have done something, but I could never figure out what.

I can only suggest what other people have already suggested. Build your own family. Protect your children from contact with destructive people. When you hear about someone who vacationed with their sister, or who has a supportive brother, feel the pain of that and let it go.

Recently, I made contact with a distant relative that I had hardly known. This relative (and his family) are incredibly kind, nice people. They are the first kind, nice relatives I have ever had. I call them my "nice relatives" as a joke. Getting together with them is fun and stress free. They have taught me something very important--it was not me. I get along with them fine. It's not my fault that there's been years of toxicity with my family of origin. I wasn't doing anything wrong, I was just hanging around with the wrong people.  You were too. As chlldren, it's just our bad luck that we have to hang around with the wrong people.

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Hepatica

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2021, 06:12:44 PM »
bets,
I think that's so great that you found the 'nice relatives.'  :applause: There is something to be said about checking who is around you before you decide there is something wrong with you. I too found some 'nice' folks who took me in like family and was introduced to a healthier, much happier me. They were truly nice people and I flowered around them, seeing parts of myself that I never saw when I lived with my family. I think many of us are like plants that got planted in the wrong light and soil for us. I certainly needed another environment to thrive. As soon as I was transplanted out of my FOO, to an environment that was right for me, I began to get better. Since I've gone NC completely, I am discovering even more things about myself that I feel good about. My self-esteem is getting much better and I am doing things I wasn't even able to do before. When I was around my FOO, I was always constrained, tense, sad and it took so much of my energy to pretty much breath, much less accomplish goals and feel good about myself.

There is a big lesson here, that we need to work at finding out who are the best for us to, and even where, especially when we've grown up steeped in dysfunction.
ďThere is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's
still a sureness in you, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where
there is a confidence and tranquility." John O'Donohue

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Hilltop

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2021, 11:54:06 PM »
I am the SG in the family although that is a role my family assigned to me, I am learning to reject their definition of me.  My sister long ago simply stopped talking to me and we now don't have a relationship.  I tried for a while but she was quite horrible and I ended up giving up.  I wondered for so long what I had done, what was wrong with me.  I see my friends with healthy adult sibling relationships and I do feel a touch of envy, I wish I had that.

Its taken me a long time but I don't blame myself for this relationship anymore.  I can't do it all on my own, a relationship takes others to make work and if they aren't interested then its not going to work.  I blamed myself for so long but after reading a few books I began to think about my family and the long term relationships within my family.  I saw dysfunction going back through the generations.  My parents have strained relationships with all their siblings, some were estranged for life, my grandparents had the same.  Generation after generation of toxic behaviours handed down.  This isn't really about me at all.  Our family was raised in the same manner as older generations and no one has escaped it.  Perhaps its just common but I learned not to take it personally, not to think I was solely to blame.  Years earlier I had asked my sister what had happened and got nothing back. If I had done something hurtful she could have told me but she said nothing.  Now I feel its on her, if she wants a relationship, she will have to mend it.  She has done so many horrible things over the years that I no longer feel its on me to build bridges with her.  I think like others have said, it will be a scar however I don't want this relationship.  I want a healthy loving sibling relationship but I don't want this one with my sister and that's what I have to accept.  That's why I ended up feeling ok to walk away from it.

As for my sister, I learned to get to know myself, trust my own judgement of myself.  Previously I had believed what my sister portrayed about me, I believed I must be such a horrible person if she didn't want me in her life.  Now I realise that my sister doesn't know me. How can she, she hasn't been around for 20 years now, hasn't seen me in person and hasn't spoken to me.  How could she be reliable in knowing anything about me on a personal level.

You are not a failure.  Your siblings were disrespectful to your child.  If they can't acknowledge that its on them.  Its not about you.  You think their opinion or judgement about you is reliable but its not.  Its built on family dysfunction which is really unreliable and full of falsehoods.

A lot of the time we don't want these particular relationships, if it was just a friendship you would walk away and not think about it again.  I sometimes think we want the kind loving sibling relationship, that's what I yearn for and it comes down to me accepting or acknowledging I am not going to have that more than it is about your actual siblings.  I mean their perception may not be reality, a lot of times with PD's their thoughts are not based on reality or fact, its based on a picture in their own head of what they need to be right.  Don't view yourself through their lens because what they see is not accurate.

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bets

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2021, 02:20:04 AM »
Hepatica, It sounds like you are really thriving now that you are away from your family of origin. Personally, from what I've seen, cutting ties seems to be the best and only answer. The people who do the best seem to remove themselves from the situation. I wish it wasn't so. When I went NC with my fahter, NC wasn't even a thing. I actually went NC because I was afraid of him, but everyone around me ignored this, and let me know how terrible I was. I was supposed to tolerate toxic, violent abusive behavior, pretend it hadn't happened, then rinse and repeat.

Hilltop--it was a cycle of dysfunction in my family, too, going back for generations probably. But there's one thing i've noticed. In each generation there are people who break away and leave. I thought I was the only one, till I took a closer look at the older generations. There are people in my family who left, moved away and never came back. Maybe the are LC, but they really aren't involved in the dysfunction. My mom used to talk about them scornfully ("Can you believe he moved so far away from his mother?"), and since I hardly ever saw them I kinda forgot they existed. 

I think that we are part of that group. We have broken away. We have raised our children without narcissism. It may be sad and very lonely, but we have enough self-esteem to break away from abuse. I'll say one thing about my mean, violent, abusive relatives--they mostly lived unhappy lives and died young. So breaking away may be a good thing in more ways than one.

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JollyJazz

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2021, 03:07:49 AM »
Hi Coyote 23,

So sorry to hear this. It is so painful when we have a bunch of people, siblings as well as PD parents ganging up.

I guess what I'd say is that sorry to hear it's painful, like others here have said, you're not alone. I was just feeling something so similar when I read your post!

I guess the way forward is healthy grief and a LOT of self compassion and self care. Healing. And then reaching out to those that are kind, caring.

I know it's hard and painful but you'll get there. Step by step. Don't give up! It's okay to rest too, cuddle up with a warm blanket, hot shower, mourn.  You got this  :bighug: you're just fine as you are, and you deserve love.

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Coyote23

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2021, 12:41:36 PM »
Hepatica,
Elements of your story, as well as the way you express your ideas, really clicked with me. The things you said about your fatherís family and  toeing the line could have been written about my extended family.

Itís really hard to be a questioner and a truth-teller. But itís harder not to, because I ultimately would rather be the lonely, banished scapegoat than betray myself again.

You also sound like a truth -teller in your family system.

Iím joining you today in telling you that youíre ok.

Stepping back and healing. Thank you.

I feel quite the fail when it comes to my sibling and large part of the extended family too. When I hear about or see my friends who are so close with their siblings and so loving, I get the worst feeling of loss.

This is generational healing. Somewhere along our family lines something went terribly wrong and the unconsciousness went down the family line. There is a puritanical streak in my family on my father's side. Its general mindset is that children should not be coddled, or seen, or get too big for the britches and challenge a parent, and physical and mental abuse is okay to make the children toe the line. It's all about control. There is no trust. On my father's side there have been a number of suicides and I suspect at least one of them was a kid who did not toe the line, who questioned, who fought back, created waves and then the family turned on them. Everybody wants the family to just keep on doing the same old thing, even if it is seriously fraught.

Your post has given me a lot to think about in terms of myself. I guess I resisted. I became the liberal in a very conservative mindset family. I didn't fit in and then I asked a few questions and set a few boundaries, and boom... they all began to covertly turn against me. When my parents die, it will be my very loyal sister who will get all of what my parents have. I will have to be punished long-term.

I now have got to learn to not punish myself. I have to accept that trying to live inside of a family that bequeathed me the scapegoat, scarlet letter, will always pick on me and the only thing I can do is spend the rest of my life telling myself that I am okay. I don't have to believe their view of me. It's really hard at times. Really, really hard. But as you said, I too, don't see any upsides to repairing. At all. I'd have to stuff everything somewhere inside and it would make me sick. They will never, unless some miracle occurs, feel compassion for me.

You are not a failure. You were merely born into a family that was unhealthy. That toxicity gets spread and the ones who refuse to try to heal it, throw all their unresolved issues onto the scapegoat. My only recipe for this is to back away and heal. I have to work continually on removing their negative view of me from my own self-image. As someone said, coming to these boards helps and I have a made a few friends now who understand my situation because they too are estranged from their families of origin.

I'm so happy to read that you've found one sibling that you feel good with. I hope that the both of us and anyone reading this who resonates with it, begins to feel with absolute certainty that we do matter, we are loved and lovable, and that we are able to heal the trauma that makes us have trust issues, so that we can start to build a good group of friends who invite us over for holidays. I would love to have this, as I've been feeling so lonely too, around holidays and so envious of those who have secure, loving FOO's.

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Coyote23

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Re: Grieving the loss
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2021, 12:57:03 PM »
Jolie,
Iím sorry if this was your idea in the first place, but a family meeting to discuss gift distribution, as well as certain people getting bent out of shape when everyone doesnít comply, is one of the most narcissistic family system things Iíve heard in awhile.

It reminds me of the year I turned 13 and  my sister was in college. Before this, we siblings all got one another small gifts. Suddenly she decides we should all draw names and get one person a ďnicerĒ gift. When she was 13 she was totally happy with getting gifts from everyone (which to me was more about being thought of and recognized than getting something materially valuable. I usually got books.) She ended up drawing my name and got me an ugly sweater. My brother put actual coal in my stocking. I ended up crying in my room. I still felt like a kid but the gift situation made me feel really alone and unseen. And to top it off I felt guilty for caring about gifts and convinced myself I was being spoiled (because I had learned by then that it was easier to call myself a spoiled brat than have to hear my siblings or parents say that to me..)

Sorry, I kind of went off into my own story there for a minute, but I did feel a weird gut feeling about your family meeting. Who cares if gifts have to change in a family with a bunch of nieces and nephews? Why is that even a ďfaultĒ situation, regardless of whether you showed up to a meeting? Why wasnít this meeting an email? Why are these adults cawing about your childís event when they have their own children? No children are event-free. Your sister had a fit because you didnít drop everything for her, and OMG now Iím a tad off pissed on your behalf and quite glad you are no-contact. 😊

I love how you refuse to take on the fault. You sound very strong. Iím going to channel you. ❤️

I could use help with feeling like a failure at having siblings.

I went NC with siblings at time of going NC with PD parent due to an overly chaotic year

don't regret it because my health is SO much better
constant stress is not good for our bodies

don't see it as my failure

I was SG so siblings took on that & also treated me as SG
once I couldn't attend family mtg cause my child had an activity near Christmas

after mtg, got call from one sibling that it was "my fault" they made changes re Christmas gifts
yet I wasn't at mtg!  yep blame the SG

it's NOT our fault & often not even our siblings fault
too much childhood dysfunctional dynamics to overcome with having a PD parent
everyone is affected by the chaotic childhood & some siblings don't even realize it was chaotic!