Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother

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Healing Finally

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Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother
« on: September 26, 2021, 02:57:42 PM »
Hello all  :wave:

It's been years since I've posted, so I thought to start here again.  I've been so grateful to have found you all, as you greatly helped me with understanding my family situation and how to protect myself many years ago.

Recap:
    - My (now 89 year old) mother can't separate herself from both her two daughters (we are now in our 60s); I've always fought this but my 3 years younger sister embraced it.
    - Our family dynamic has always been very dysfunctional due to poor boundaries.
    - In the end my sister became a full blown narcissist, and I became the scapegoat.
    - Seven years ago I lashed out at my sister (via email sent to her husband at the time who was like my brother) due to being triggered by witnessing her self-absorbed behavior (yes I found out I have c-ptsd too, thanks to you all.)
    - My sister and he husband were separated at the time (she moved to Malibu on his dime), and I plainly saw that she has no intention of getting back together with him.
    - My (now ex) brother in law showed my angry email to my mother and they both showed it to my sister.
    - My sister hasn't spoken to me since and continues to maintain the need to stay away from me; keeping our family apart.
    - It was obvious to me that my (ex)BIL did this so that he could remove me from the picture as I was trying to get people to acknowledge their reality.
    - Nobody was ready for this reality at the time, although last year, 6 years later they did get divorced (after my sister found a new man to take care of her.)
    - My (ex)Bil was ruthless with the divorce, leaving my sister as little as possible.

Today:
    - Last month I moved in with my mother as she requires financial support as well as care-taking.
    - She no longer drives and would pay crazy money to be transported to her doctor appts.
    - She hasn't been taking care of herself properly, but was telling everyone that she is fine and wouldn't ask for any support.
    - My sister lives close by, as well as her 2 grown sons, but they still see my mother as THEIR support person, so she is not on their radar.
    - My sister still refuses to be around me, and doesn't call my mother in case I might answer the phone.
    - Even though my mother would dearly love having her daughters together again, she can't ask my sister for this.
    - My mother also has c-ptsd, due to her past relationship with her narcissist mother, so she is really incapable of stating her needs to my sister.

So, here I am, reaching out for help.

Today I found out that my sister and her boyfriend are going to Bora Bora for Christmas, so they have already invited my mother over for Christmas Eve and she has agreed.

Every year my mother has the family at her house for Christmas Eve, but not this year, I will apparently be here all by myself.  I guess no one thought about that. It's hard not to take this personally.

I have made some excellent progress with understanding my c-ptsd triggers and co-dependent behaviors; I even got a AA in Communication this year as I truly want to communicate in a healthy fashion.

In other words, what happened 7 years ago has actually been a great help to me, it truly opened my eyes to our family dysfunction, my contribution; and also how I've carried on with my unhealthy behavior within other relationships and in the workplace.

But here I am right in the thick of it now, living and taking care of my mother, while my sister lives down the street and continues to behave in her self-absorbed ways. 

I want to ask my Mom to acknowledge the fact that I am now dedicating myself to her, and to start putting my needs up on the same level as my sister's.

But I feel it's useless.  I mean, my lord, this is how it has been ALL MY LIFE.

Any help would be appreciated.

FYI, I would love to not be living here, but I can't afford to just send my mother money for rent and care-giver resources.  And I can't abandon her.

Thank you!
Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.  Don't try to see through the distances.  That's not for human beings.
Move within, but don't move the way fear makes you move.”
~ Jalaluddin Rumi

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Bloomie

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Re: Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2021, 06:22:33 PM »
Hi Healing Finally!
Welcome back. I remember your sharing this journey when you were previously active.

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In other words, what happened 7 years ago has actually been a great help to me, it truly opened my eyes to our family dysfunction, my contribution; and also how I've carried on with my unhealthy behavior within other relationships and in the workplace.

Wow! This is such a strong and healthy view of what was a devastating betrayal that lead to continued ostracization by your sister and family.

I am thankful your mom has you there with her, but imagine it could be so easy to lose your balance and peace if not careful. I am really glad you reached out for support as you navigate such tricky changes in your mom's life and things like holidays, etc.

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But here I am right in the thick of it now, living and taking care of my mother, while my sister lives down the street and continues to behave in her self-absorbed ways. 

I want to ask my Mom to acknowledge the fact that I am now dedicating myself to her, and to start putting my needs up on the same level as my sister's.

But I feel it's useless.  I mean, my lord, this is how it has been ALL MY LIFE.

If your mom hasn't done these things yet, she most likely will not. The odds that your mom or sister will change are pretty slim to none.

So, the question really becomes how much of yourself do you really want to give over to someone you do not feel valued by? Giving sacrificially is yours to choose as long as you are not giving in hopes that finally, now, somehow, some way things will change. That is a set up for disappointment and frustration from where I sit.

It might be helpful to really look with a social worker or nurse case manager at your mother's actual needs for safety and well being and see what you can reasonably meet and what you need to find 3rd party help with. There are great resources and you do not have to give your life away unless you want to.

There are links to some great senior services and resources in the sticky posts at the top of the Dealing with PD Elderly Parents board (not saying your mom is PD, just that is where the links are). ☺️

I see this as another layer of the onion that you have been working through and I imagine there are a lot of things to think through and work out within your own heart and mind around this complicated triangle of you, your mom, and your sister.

I wish you strength as you continue and look forward to supporting you as you share on the boards!






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Poppy

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Re: Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2021, 06:24:08 PM »
Dear Healing Finally,

What a difficult situation you are in... It must be hard to take the role of responsible daughter in this situation. First... Hugs to you  :bighug:

You're asking for support in dealing with Nsis and Emom. But really what I think you need is support for YOU! I believe what you really need are solid boundaries and feeling true self worth.

Your mom doesn't value your sacrifices at all if she would let you be alone at Christmas. In the house you moved into, to care for her! And she's leaving, to be with your estranged sister who doesn't want to see you. On top of that there's the tradition of celebrating at her home, so it would be reasonably easy to carry on and invite your sister.

I find it hard to fully understand why you are taking on this massive responsibility alone, if you've never even been invited to Christmas these last years. And now you live in that house, and your mother plans to leave you alone. It's truly mind boggling what out FOO is capable of thinking up. I'm so sorry this is happening!

But we in the end are responsible for how we allow others to treat us. If you allow this disrespect and carry on as her caregiver, what does that tell her, and your sister? It's almost a Cinderella situation.

Dear Healing Finally, you need to stick up for yourself. Not demand Christmas is celebrated at home necessarily, but to have the discussion that this feels unjust to you and that you need mutual respect and caring to continue this situation.

I also noticed you put more 'blame' on your sister for certain behaviours and you excuse your mom for hers (simply going along with Nsis, her own c-ptsd making communication challenging) and I wonder why that is. Are you sure you're not making light of your mother's choices and judgement and treatment of you, because otherwise it would hurt too badly?
I know from experience it's just so very difficult to grasp why our mothers treat us the way they do and to accept they don't love and treat us the way we deserve to be. I don't know, food for thought maybe?

I just reread your post and I want to comment on what you said here:

I want to ask my Mom to acknowledge the fact that I am now dedicating myself to her, and to start putting my needs up on the same level as my sister's.  But I feel it's useless.  I mean, my lord, this is how it has been ALL MY LIFE.

You don't need your mother to put your needs on the same level as your sister's... YOU need to do that.
You're giving away all your power, waiting for an 89 year old woman to change her ways. And like you say it's been like this all your life. She won't change. She doesn't need to. She can share the good times with your sister and have you do the hard work. She doesn't benefit at all from change. Neither does your sister.

But you do! And you are so worth it! You put in the hard work of working on yourself. Learning about your past and boundaries and trauma. Now you need to find a way to honour all that and set healthy boundaries and enforce them.

You say you can't send money for rent and caregiver resources. And shouldn't have to... Not alone at least!

I think this situation is the ultimate reason for reaching out to your sister about your mother and how to share the load. You say it just isn't on her radar, and then you swooped in, and now it doesn't have to be either. Go and put it on her radar.
Send an email, cc'ing your mother. Ask "How shall we share this responsibility? I have tried to do it alone but I have found it is more than I am willing and capable of doing. What can your contribution to our mother's living situation be?"
That's only fair and reasonable.

I really feel for you and your situation and I hope I'm not coming across as too harsh.

I recognize myself a lot in your story, although my mom is a little younger. Sometimes I'm already contemplating how to approach my parents' old age/ poor health in the future with my Nsis who's totally enmeshed with my Nmom.
I can tell you this though... It does not include me taking care of her to that level. I've come to the realisation that I've spent my entire childhood mediating, being scapegoated, taking care of the family's needs already. I've put in enough time, doing it when I shouldn't have had too, so young. I'm not doing it now that I have a choice.

And we do. Have choices. They may hurt, and we may wish our lives weren't the way they are. But it's the cards we've been dealt. And now we take care of ourselves, with kindness and compassion and boundaries.

Wishing you much much strength and love!  :bighug:
It's never too late to be who you might have been (George Eliot)

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Healing Finally

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Re: Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2021, 12:43:43 AM »
Thank you Poppy  :applause:

Your post is so thoughtful and "spot on" :blush:

I really appreciate you calling me out on my codependent actions/reactions.  I so not want to be this way!!! 

I am going to digest your post for a day or two and respond back. 

This is why I love this forum so much.  You are a true hero for helping me  :yes:
Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.  Don't try to see through the distances.  That's not for human beings.
Move within, but don't move the way fear makes you move.”
~ Jalaluddin Rumi

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Healing Finally

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Re: Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2021, 05:29:30 PM »
Hi Bloomie!  :wave:

Somehow I missed your post the first time. Thank you!  So good to hear from you; your strength and wisdom is so valuable for all of us!!  :yes:

I do find it interesting that my healing journey would lead me literally back to the "rat's nest". 

And you were so correct in your postings so many years ago that my sister would continue to behave as she does, without a care of anyone else's needs within the family.  It's been seven years now!

Thought to share, I did have a good talk with my Mom yesterday, and I told her how hurt I felt that she already made holiday plans without consulting me.  At first she totally defended her actions, but after more discussion she agreed that this was not the correct thing to do.  I shared with her how my c-ptsd really brings me down after being triggered and how helpless I felt.  Later while I was resting, due to need to disassociate, she came into my room and said how bad she felt and again stated she was wrong.  So there is hope!

We shall see what the future brings.  I'm still digesting Poppy's reply...will post more later.  HUGS
Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.  Don't try to see through the distances.  That's not for human beings.
Move within, but don't move the way fear makes you move.”
~ Jalaluddin Rumi

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bunnie

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Re: Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2021, 02:29:30 PM »
Hi Healing Finally,

My parents have always put my sister's needs, feelings, and thoughts front and center in our family. They gaslighted and scapegoated me all my life. I always wanted things to be "right" in our family, yet if I spoke a truth, I was told that I was "tearing our family apart". This abusive viewpoint was absorbed by my sister and was used against me as the "reason" for discarding me from her family a couple of years ago. And my parents (now early 70s), yet again, are keeping her comfortable in her abuse and dysfunction despite the fact that it is harmful to their grandchildren.  It is very hard to accept that I was operating under a delusion about my family dynamics.

I understand how you're feeling. Your mother probably won't acknowledge that you are a good daughter and dedicating yourself to her care. Why should she?

I told my mother that when she's in town to visit my sister she cannot stay at my house.  I will not allow her to spend her time and money on sis and kids, while I take care of her with my time and money.

You have to be your own advocate and agent.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2021, 02:32:47 PM by bunnie »
To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize - Voltaire

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on. - Eckhart Tolle

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Healing Finally

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Re: Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2021, 10:46:34 PM »
Hi bunnie  :wave:,

It certainly does seem to be the pattern, that the person who tries to expose the untruths is the one that gets ousted.  :aaauuugh:

And, how did this family dysfunction all get started anyway?  I'm curious if your situation with your sister is similar to mine.  My younger sister was "fragile" as a child, had learning disabilities and later body image issues to the point where she told my mother she wanted to kill herself.  It seems that ever since then my mother has gone out of her way to make sure my sister is OK.  Like it was her job, and she convinced both my Dad and I that we had to be supportive as well.  I believe I got the message that I was to be her caretaker.  I also believe as I witnessed my sister's self-absorbed ways, I actually went overboard in the "trying to make everything OK" department for my parents; so I set myself up. 

Today no one remembers this.  My sister has convinced my mother that I'm a snake and has always been out to get her.  I am so far from that, all I ever did was support her, I was like her slave, and I never demonstrated any of this type of negative behavior, ever!  SIDE NOTE:  I just had a mini panic attack!!  :stars: I haven't done this in years!  I had to stop typing and do a bunch of deep breathing.)

Awhile ago when I ask my mom if she remembers how we used to wonder if my sister could ever have children (due to her selfishness) she looked at me like I'm nuts.  She doesn't remember how my sister NEVER did anything around the house (unless she was forced to which my mother hated to do), and even when I told her how my sister did nothing to help prepare for 80th birthday party she still defended her, "I saw her cleaning up."   :doh:

Of course I also have a big part in it, I allowed it, I was passive; and I felt I couldn't stand up for myself.  Yes the deck was stacked against me, but still my going along with the pattern of being the scapegoat allowed them to forever use me as one.

FYI, I used to be a major alcoholic, drank heavily for 35 years so I made it real easy for them to point their finger at me.  If I had ONLY KNOWN at the time it was all due to my "inner self" knowing it was all wrong, but my "outer self" could not see it.  :-[ )

I am so sorry to hear you've had to deal with this.  It does sounds like you've got a good handle on it all, I appreciate your sharing.  Thank you :hug:
Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.  Don't try to see through the distances.  That's not for human beings.
Move within, but don't move the way fear makes you move.”
~ Jalaluddin Rumi

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Healing Finally

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Re: Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2021, 11:17:25 PM »
HI Poppy,   :wave: - here's my reply to you after some thought.

When it comes to my taking on the responsibility of my mother, I felt it was the only thing I could do as a good daughter.  She has always had issues standing up for herself, again due to her relationship with her narcissist mother (example my grandmother said she would have aborted my mother if she could, to her face when she was a child.  She actually already had two abortions already, this was in the 1930s!) 

No one else was paying attention to my mother's needs, as she told everyone that she was fine.  She would pay crazy amounts of money on cabs to dr appts because she couldn't ask for a ride from my sister or her grown kids (who literally live down the street, not all together.)  And she hasn't been taking care of herself, since I've been here I've got her back on track with drinking water, eating right, but still fighting with her to use her cpap machine!

She also realized she could no longer afford living in her 2 bedroom condo, and should have moved to a lower rent place years ago.  She had planned to do this, but there are no low rent housing available here in California, and so I moved in, as a temporary solution.  I knew it would be triggering for me, but I also knew if I didn't do it, there was no other alternative as she can't afford the "3-tiered assisted living" but her income is too high to be in a nursing home (which of course would be a last resort.)

Since my original post I did speak to my mother about her agreeing to be with my sister on Christmas eve, and she now see's it was wrong for her to agree to that.  My mom is capable of seeing my efforts, and sometimes she feels bad, not wanting me to loose years to be her caretaker.  I've talked to her about family therapy, we both agree it would be very helpful if we could all meet with a therapist.  She can see that my sister's inability to move past this is hard on the family, but all she says is "there is nothing I can do." 

Which is SO INSANE because she is THE ONE that can make things right!  She is the matriarch!  She can say I want my family together!  But, she can't.  :sadno:

Yes, I have felt like Cinderella, that fairy-tale has always been close to my heart!

FYI, in the past few days I met with my primary doctor and she has put in a request for mental health support for me.  I'm waiting to hear back.  I haven't seen a therapist in years, thinking that I'm doing fine, but now that I'm in this current situation I could certainly use some help.  And maybe, just maybe I can get my sister to meet up with me and the therapist (years ago I had met with my therapist and my mother, three different times, but since I lived in another town, my mother would literally forget what we talked about after she got back into her regular life; due to her own c-ptsd.  :no:)

I appreciate your pointing out how I blame my sister and not my mom, and this is just part of the dynamic that I've been used to.  I do need to look at the "blame part" as it's probably just as easy for me to blame my sister for all of this as it is for them to blame me.  :aaauuugh:

I have thought about reaching out to my sister about supporting our mother, and there is a plan to do this in the back of my mind.  I just need to figure out a way to do it without getting burnt.

I appreciate your sharing and glad to hear you've got a good handle on your family situation with your Nsis and Nmom.

We shall see what the future brings.  I can say I feel better!   :yes:
« Last Edit: October 02, 2021, 11:19:24 PM by Healing Finally »
Keep walking, though there's no place to get to.  Don't try to see through the distances.  That's not for human beings.
Move within, but don't move the way fear makes you move.”
~ Jalaluddin Rumi

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bunnie

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Re: Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2021, 08:00:47 PM »
In recent years my brothers have opened up to me about how they always recognized I was the abused one, the scapegoat. They always felt helpless to assist me, and understandably, focused on flying under the radar, growing up, and getting out of the house. That's not atypical of boys. Our uPD mother is mentally and emotionally abusive. Our father is a covert narcissist and enabler. From a young age I did my best to shield our sister from my mother's volatile moods and neglect. This transferred into our adult years as our roles were fixed by then. 

Like you, I went overboard to make sure everything was okay for everyone (esp sister) in the family. She is the least stable and capable and she married a malignant narcissist who keeps their family in a state of emotional chaos. Mentally I have a good handle on it all. Physically I am prone to severe panic attacks and anxiety (similar to the one you experienced while writing your post  :'(). It is an awful thing to deal with and I'm back reading this forum because I have been slipping with this last tantrum that has lasted 2 years, along with all the drama and dysfunction that has come with it.

 :applause: Congratulations  :applause: on getting a handle on your alcoholism. Although I haven't met you, I'm very proud of your recovery. That is no small feat, to be sure. I'm not a drinker, but struggle with emotional eating patterns, so I do understand the addiction process.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2021, 08:03:25 PM by bunnie »
To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize - Voltaire

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on. - Eckhart Tolle

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daughter

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Re: Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2021, 04:29:36 PM »
My NC was triggered by a very similar situation of "exotic Christmas vacation of GC nsis' family and my enmeshed NPD parents", given that, until then, both xmas eve and day were "mandatory attendance, no in-laws allowed" for both nsis and my kids and spouses. And it was announced in a particularly harsh "now that grandkids are out of room", at Mother's Day dinner in my home, w/nmom hushing ndad while he tried to "explain" choice.  Pretty awful, but not unexpected, in regards to casual cruelty, because I was always SG "dutiful daughter", charged w/ allowing a lot of bad behavior directed at me.

Within a week, I slipped into casual but permanent NC, w/help of therapy and lots of reading of related "npd enmeshed family" topic books. And yes, this website-thank you!!

I realized my familial "value" was entirely based on my immediate usefulness, as hostess, as gift-giver, as SG target for both tacit and overt abuse. I chose to completely remove myself from this disfunctional dynamic, as a middle-aged woman who already had a LOT of therapy and totally understood situation. So, this was final "trigger" for me.

Think for you question is, how much longer do you feel you need to participate in this dysfunctional dynamic in regards to your own personal expectations?  It is ok to remove yourself from abuse, to "lovingly deny" disordered family to continue to abuse us, whether outright emotional abuse or "you're my chore person" benign neglect.  Perhaps it's time to re-evaluate degree of assistance you're providing, and assess whether you're simply dutiful daughter "free labor" without equal stature in regards to your own personal needs and actual feelings. It's time to be acknowledged, by both your mother, and your sister, and thanked, in gracious and appreciative manner. Otherwise perhaps it's time to rethink, and regroup, and stop lending your hand. I've never regretted my NC. Best wishes. 

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Leonor

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Re: Need support with uNPD sister and emeshed mother
« Reply #10 on: October 19, 2021, 04:53:49 AM »
Hi Healing,

Congratulations on your sobriety journey!

And it is a journey ... One day at a time.

If you don't mind, I'd like to respond to your post in the context of your recovery.

Addiction isn't a character flaw, or moral failure. It's mis-medication for an illness so shamed by others that we feel obligated to hide it even from ourselves.

It's like, good news! My drinking/eating/smoking/sex/whatever compulsion doesn't mean I am a bad person.
It just means I am a hurt person.

The bad news? Living in recovery from my addiction doesn't mean I've healed my hurt. Sobriety isn't a broad-spectrum antibiotic that heals my lung tissue and my trauma, too.

You've faced down that bottle and won. Now you've got another challenge waiting for you. It's what brought you to the bottle in the first place: the dynamic among your mom, your sister, and you.

It's as if the universe has graduated you. "Healing Finally, you did it! You got sober. Now it's time for your next challenge. Meet your family."

Maybe you're not in your mother's house because she's needy or your sister is a word I cannot say on the forum. Maybe you're in your mother's house because somewhere you know it's time to face her, to go back to the place where you were hurt, and heal that.

You're in the arena.

You can't do it wrong. If you mess up or lose a scrimmage, you'll have another chance another day.

You can win. You can face your biggest fear and heal yourself. You can walk out of the arena free. Healthy. And full of love.

No warrior princess battles alone. You need your cavalry around you. You have us at OOF. You need irl supporters too. T is great. What about group? What about a meeting?

This is no street spat, Healing Finally. Do this for you and you alone, but don't do it alone. You know where feeling alone takes you, and you've been there already.

You can do this.

You can stand your mom's twisted, feigned helplessness.

You can stand your sister's phone, vindictive scheming.

You can stand your own yearning for some recognition, for some acknowledgement, for some shred of getting it, of mom transforming into the mom you've always wanted, for your sister to be revealed as the not-nice one, for at least an hour on a holiday to be drama-free. You can stand facing your own agenda in all of this: to win the good-daughter competition.

You've healed so far! Go surround yourself with other healing people.