SO and I have been together for 5 years. We have no children because SO isn't ready to start a family, although I am and have been for some time. It has been, and continues to be, a discussion point for us. My concerns are that I am nearly 35 and that while SO and I are careful at his request, my XH and I never were and we never even had a scare. My XH has gone on to father at least two children, so I have a (potentially) irrational fear of infertility on my part. My sister knows this.
She will often make biting comments about the fact that we are, at present, childless. Last year, for example, my niece asked me for milk in a sippy cup. I was unaware that certain sippy cups have valves that make them spill-proof (seriously, who would know that if they didn't have children?) and I neglected to make sure there was a valve in place. Milk ended up everywhere. Everyone got a good laugh at silly Auntie Bluelady who doesn't even know how sippy cups work. What is she gonna do if she ever has kids?
Then, last month, SO and I were visiting her and she decided, on her own, out of nowhere, to run down with SO all the reasons why we ARE financially stable enough to have kids. Did she have good intentions? Yes. Did it have the desired effect? No. It made SO dig his heels in even more. I believe "I'm not letting anyone - your sister, your mother, my mother - bully me into starting a family before I'm ready" was his response to me after we got home.
Then, there was the time she tagged me - and only me - to an article she shared on Facebook. The topic of the article? Fertility after age 35. I told her that I was uncomfortable with her parading my fertility status around for the entire world to see. Her take was that I was being dramatic. She took it down, but not without a lot of defensive digs (like, do you really think my 564 friends are really going to care, or even notice? I THOUGHT I was doing you a favor). Good intentions? Yes. Well executed? No.
So, this weekend, SO had a reunion to go to and I knew my sister and my niece (whom I ADORE) were going to be visiting my parents. I decided to come up for a visit, too.
Tonight, my sister had some errands to run and left the little one (after she had gone to bed) with me and my mom. She texted me and asked if I wanted to meet her and her friend for a drink.
Now, being a teacher who lives in a very small, very gossipy town, going out is not something I do often. So, I was really pumped. I had just walked in the door when my sister announces that she got a text from our mom (who knew I had left, but I forgot to tell her who I was meeting) saying that she was tired and when was my sister going to come home.
My sister was on the fence about whether to ask my mom to watch her for a little more, or to go home immediately. After a few minutes of hemming and hawing, my sister decides to go home.
Now, I understood why she had to go home, but I was still pretty bummed. I had basically gotten dressed, drove across town, only to have to turn around and go home. I said, in a semi-passive agressive way (and I'll admit that) "you suck. I'm going home", told her friend it was nice to meet her, and left.
Well, didn't the texts start. They were basically lecturing me on the responsibilities of parenthood and implying that I didn't think my niece should be a priority to her. My sister, when she feel guilty about something, gets SUPER defensive (see the article example above).
I got the texts seconds before she walks in the door. She came in and started at me again. Now, when my sister and I get along, we really get along. When we don't, we really don't. Things escalated. My feelings were hurt for a number of reasons, however the worsts were her implications that I don't see my niece as something of importance and, oh yeah, I could not POSSIBLY understand the responsibilities of parenthood and how lucky am I that I can just whisk away whenever the wind takes me cause I am childless.
What. The. Fuck. is that bullshit?
Anyway, things escalate, as did my voice and choice of language. I realized that I needed time to myself to cool down, so I grabbed my car keys (I had not been drinking and nor had she) and told my sister, and my mom who was there, that I was leaving. My sister was parked behind me so, through my tears, I asked her to move and went out to sit in my car. She didn't come out. I went inside and asked her for her keys so I could move her car. She refused. I went back outside to wait for her to move her car.
After about 5 minutes, she did come out, opened my passenger door and lambasted me about how shitty an aunt I was and how could I dare to that in front of her daughter. Apparently my niece woke up in the middle of all of this. She went on and on about me. All the while, I'm begging her to move her car and she's refusing. She tells me that she doesn't feel I am in the right frame of mind to be driving and blah blah blah.
At this point, I'm feeling really claustrophobic and needing to get out of there. More harsh words were said and she finally moved the car.
I drive to an all night coffee shop, order a cup and sit in my car. My sister and I got into a texting conversation and it was a whole lot more of her insensitively and meanly saying that I couldn't possibly understand and how lucky I am to have all this freedom and what do I think life is going to be like after I have kids. Then she started in on me leaving. How do I think she feels know that she'll only ever have one child (her fiance has two from a previous relationship and doesn't want any more).
I told her I realized I had reached my breaking point and I needed to get away before it escalated further and that she prevented me from doing that, which she denied, even though the only way for me to get the car out would have been for me to drive over the neighbour's front lawn. Things DID escalate further because she didn't just let me go, but she couldn't see her hand in that. She told me that I just should have sat outside on the step.
Anyway, she now tells me that she isn't sure whether she can trust me around my niece anymore because of "my outburst". I'll say again that I regret waking my niece up, but she at no point saw me upset and there was never any words said about her. But to imply that I'm a danger to that precious little girl?
I am going to end this by saying that this isn't usual behaviour for me. I don't get this upset often. Something about what she said to me tonight made me snap. It kills me to think she may keep my from seeing my niece. She told me that I could never understand the level to which I hurt her tonight, yet I'm supposed to be ok with her comments digging at me time and time again? And when I explain my hurt to her, I'm dramatic and no one will care anyway?
It's nearly four in the morning and I doubt I'll be getting much sleep tonight. If you made it to then end of this crazy long post, thank you.
What you just wrote screams "personality disorder". Really, the best thing you can do is distance yourself from her and go limited contact.
You set a boundary by telling her talking about infertility/fertility bothers you, yet she doesn't respect that.
You mentioned when you two get along, you really get along. My sister does this, but it's a tactic she uses to reel people in to do what she wants.
NC is difficult because of your niece. Limited contact and do not engage when she starts something.
[This message edited by travels at 8:02 AM, July 14th (Sunday)]
Your sister is a manipulative, nasty witch... I'm sorry.
Needless to say, I only got two hours sleep last night. When my sister woke, she asked me if things were "over". I said I didn't think so. She asked if I was going to be mad all day. I said I wasn't sure. She didn't know what to do with that. She asked me what I was still mad about and I told her that if she threatened to take my niece from me like that again, I wasn't sure if I could forgive her. She tried to argue that a little but I told her I didn't have the mental strength to engage today. She huffed away at that.
She just asked if I'd be willing to "go somewhere" after lunch because she feels I have things to get off my chest. Not sure what I'm gonna do with that yet...
Sorry for any mistakes. I'm on my phone.
She is blame shifting. She is the one who threatened to take your niece away, yet she is acting like the innocent victim.
If you do decide to discuss it with her, set firm boundaries. Tell her this is the last time you are going to talk to her about it, and that's it. If the issue is ever brought back again, do not acknowledge it at all. You may have to explain why you are doing this to your SO and hope he understands.
My sister and mother both draw their strength from conflict and making others feel bad about themselves. Arguing drains me to the point I agree with anything just to make it end. I've found a lot of peace by not engaging them or falling into their traps yet again.
[This message edited by travels at 9:32 AM, July 14th (Sunday)]
I hate the term "childless." It either implies that someone is projecting a deficiency in another person's life, or that there is a perceived deficiency in one's own. It smacks of hurt and judgement, and I'm sorry.
The mechanics of a sippy cup have absolutely nothing to do with our capacity to care for a child. I know several people who I would easily trust with my child's life who happen not to have children of their own.
Please don't take her judgement to heart. You know you love your niece. You know you would protect her with every fiber of your being if called upon. Whatever garbage your sister is projecting onto you, she has zero right to tell you who you are as a person. Yes, as a parent we reserve the right to choose who spends time with our little ones, but nobody - NOBODY gets to tell you how much you love or care for someone else. YOU are the judge of that.
My mother and sister treat me like I'm dramatic and ridiculous if I say something like "pass the salt, please" so I'm no stranger to having to shrug them off. Nothing gets them up in arms more than me calmly and firmly telling them that they hurt my feelings when they say something insulting. It took a lot of counseling for me to learn how to not let it affect me, and he results have been amazing. I know it's going to sound crazy, but I apply the 180 and it works like a charm. As soon as the judgement starts, I calmly tell them I am removing myself from the situation, and that I hope they have a nice day. I get shock, and the occasional apology.
Sending you hugs and hoping you get some rest.
The biggest issue is your sister. The second one is that you and your SO of five years are still very far apart on marriage and children.
With your sister it sounds like you need to put some serious emotional boundaries out there with her as well as how much you share with her.
Her comments are designated to hurt you. Period. And the fact that she either doesn't see that or will not admit it is troubling.
Has your SO ever wanted children? After five years why won't he commit to you? You may want to explore some couples counseling to determine if this is a deal breaker for either or both of you.
The second one is that you and your SO of five years are still very far apart on marriage and children.
We actually aren't that far apart on marriage and children. I'm divorced and, with that experience, marriage isn't something that is a necessity for me. If my SO came to me tomorrow and said that he loves me and wants to commit to me forever, but never wants to get married, I would be fine with it. If he were to say that marriage was super important to him and he wanted to marry me, I would be fine with it. He has mentioned marriage in the past but I already feel as though we are fully committed to each other, so the ceremony isn't as important to me.
He does want children. His concern comes from the fact that he grew up really, really poor and he feels it would be irresponsible of him to have a child without being financially able (hence my sister's lecture about never being truly financially ready). He's a career changer and new teacher. The first three years we were together, he was in school - obviously not the best time to start a family. The past two, he has been doing sub work and short term contracts. He's hoping to get something more concrete before we have kids.
I mentioned before that my sister asked me to "go somewhere" after lunch. Well, she asked me to go to a wedding supply store with her and then the mall. We had been civilly cool to one another this morning so I, against my better judgement, agreed.
We weren't three blocks from the house when she asked me if there was "something going on with you" because my reaction to our argument was so extreme last night. I said no. She continued to press, so I tried to explain my side. She wasn't hearing any of it, and started arguing with me. 10 blocks from the house and I knew I had made a mistake in going with her. I grabbed my purse and was going to get out as she was stopped at a stop light and walk home. She made a flip comment that made me feel stupid, so I stayed ( if someone could explain my thought process here, that would be great). Well, it didn't get any better. Halfway to the wedding supply store, I called my mom from my cell to ask if she could meet us there to take me home. She agreed. My sister then proceeded to drive past the store and towards the mall. We argued a little more, voices raised. I told her that I didn't appreciate her holding my niece over my head. That it felt like if I didn't toe the line with her, I wouldn't get to see my niece. She told me that it was the fact that those words were said "in <niece's> presence (remember, she was in bed, asleep) and that she didn't give a flip what I said elsewhere. More of her yelling at me. I called my mother back to say that I guess she was going to the mall first and could she pick me up there, instead. At this point, I was really upset at my sister and in obvious mental distress. My sister yelled that we weren't going to the mall - that we were going to keep driving until we worked it out. My mom is now flipping out on the other end, asking where to come get me. I had no idea what to say. My sister was driving around, refusing to stop the car and let me out. At that point, she flipped out and said she was taking me home. She continued to pick at me, as I went silent. I stared out the window and said nothing.
Until she said one final thing, that escapes me at the moment and I lost it. Her response was to tell me that she was done with me, that I was not going to get my niece this summer and that she was 90% sure she was kicking me out of her wedding. I took advantage of a stop sign and got out. She called me a cow through the open window and sped off.
I called my dad, told him that I was now on foot and the route I would be taking to make it back to his place. He said he'd come find me in the car. I got home, packed my bags and left to my grandmother's, where my aunt (the same from last night) is visiting.
Between her speeding off at 2 pm and 9 tonight, she has sent me 33 texts. Most of them blaming me for everything. Telling me that I ruined our family. Telling me that I needed to own my demons. Threatening to take my niece and leave. That one is a problem because she and her fiance (who works away 3 weeks a month) are moving into a new house and are staying with my parents until they take ownership. So, her threatening to leave with the baby is a big deal because she has nowhere to go. It made my parents circle the wagons around her. The last came when my dad was over, dropping off some things I needed. It stated that I was selfish and breaking a little girl's heart because she was asking for me and I wasn't there and that anything could happen and how would I feel if someone passed and I wasn't there? At that point, I broke down and my father had to call my mom to tell my sister to stop texting. My grandmother is livid with my sister. My aunt is trying her best to be neutral, but slipped up quite a bit with each incoming text. She has my phone with her for the night at my request in case my sister tries again.
Although, in 33 texts, I only responded once, telling her I needed time before I felt comfortable speaking with her. I feel good about that decision.
I honestly feel like I am in the twilight zone. Who over the age of 17 deals with this kind of bullshit? Twice in 24 hours she prevented me from walking away and diffusing the situation. She tells me I can't have access to my niece, then berates me for not being there when niece is asking for me.
I spoke to a close friend, someone who knows both of us, tonight and she was a bit flabbergasted. At the end of the day, my sister is looking for an apology and for me to take full responsibility for what happened and to assume 100% of the blame. Her suggestion, seeing as my main concern is continued access to my niece, was that I go over and tell her that we just are going to table it for right now. Tell her I'm not mentally ready to talk about it, so we're going to pretend it's not there for right now. And then, completely emotionally detach from her concerning everything except the most superficial of things. It's something I think I need to sleep on, at least.
Yet again, sorry for the long post. I honestly and truly embarrassed about my life at this point in time.
[This message edited by bluelady at 10:20 PM, July 14th (Sunday)]
In your last post, you mention the reason why your SO does not want children yet. This also suggests to me that you told your family these reasons, since your sister is now trying to persuade you that you are financially stable enough to have kids.
This is a very, very gentle 2x4, you are giving your sister ammunition and insight into your relationship. If you do or don't chose to have kids, it isn't any of their business, but, if you are talking with them about the reasons why, your sister probably feels like she is a part of the decision making process. Be very careful how much you tell your family about your personal life.
Remember the 180 and do not engage.
She is Sisterzilla...
And I agree with Ama! she is mentally cracked.
I think NC and 180 is your best bet right now...
Block her texts if you can... Don't engage her in anyway. Try as hard as you can to let her comments (her crazy ass comments) roll off your back... because she's only trying to get a reaction out of you and cause drama.
Don't be her puppet anymore... don't keep letting her pull your strings.
I agree with confused girl... stop talking about your personal life with her... you're feeding her ammo to come back at you with.
And as far as your niece is concerned, she's the one keeping her from you and she's the one doing that damage.
Good luck... (((bluelady)))
"Family" should be the safety zone... the place you can go for any need and know it will be met.
It sucks when you can't...
You are someone who thinks carefully before speaking to others, so it's hard to understand how someone could unload all of that at you and have it not be true. But it's not. It's just not.
She's projecting everything that's churning inside of her onto you. Please don't be embarrassed about your life. You are wonderful. Life hiccups just happens around us sometimes.
I needed time before I felt comfortable speaking with her. I feel good about that decision
Bravo!!! That is going to be your ticket to sanity - just not engaging. It's unfortunate that she is dragging your niece into this but she feels compelled to control and torture you and that's her only bargaining chip.
We dealt with this with my InLaws, and we had our counselor help us keep them at arms length. She gave me the invaluable insight that the calmer and more controlled we were the more the IL's were going to lose it, and she was right. They became a torrent of hateful words and actions when we said we needed space and for them to be calm. The thing was, you can only rage against a rock for so long before you run out of energy. Be that rock, and know that her words are going to bounce off your exterior for only as long as she has fuel. When she sees that she can't affect you, the fire will die down. I'm not saying she will be nice, she'll just decide to trump your arms-length with "never ever ever ever speaking to you again".
Then all you have left to say is "Fine honey, do that. Just keep your crazy to yourself."
[This message edited by Jrazz at 1:25 PM, July 15th (Monday)]
"Family" should be the safety zone
Sadly, I think this is rare. Most families I know who say they are 'close' are just kidding themselves.
Unfortunately, you can't pick your relatives, and at least in my experience, genetic personality traits are hit or miss as far as compatibility.
I had limited contact with my sister today. I didn't feel right having her child and ignoring her texts, so I would answer when she texted about that. My mom said to me today when I went to pick up their extra car seat that my sister never had any intention of keeping my niece away from me. I told mom that my sister needed to learn that words have power and that after she told me that I shouldn't be looking for hidden meaning in her words - she said what she meant and the meant what she said - I took her at face value when she told me I wouldn't be seeing my niece.
I think I've decided to take my friend's advice. Later tonight or tomorrow I plan on telling her that I'm not ready to talk about it, but I'm ready to move forward. I plan to work very hard to detach from her and to only share with her what I might share with a close acquaintance. It is, yet again, me taking the high road and being the bigger person, but my parents and my niece did nothing and can't keep them in the middle of this.
She texted me this morning to offer to let me pick up my niece from daycare at lunch and keep her for the afternoon, so I took her up on it
Gently, bluelady, she's using your niece as bait to keep you under her thumb. As long as you are at her whim, she can continue to emotionally abuse you.
She wants you in her daughter's life. When she threatens to take her away it only because she wants to hurt you.
I would be DEVASTATED if I had to limit the time I got to spend with my nephew. He and my DD are my world, and I love him like a son. I haven't been in your position specifically so I can't say what I'd do until I got there, but my inclination is to tell your sister that until she stops holding your relationship with your niece over your head it's unhealthy to have a relationship with her outside of family gatherings.
That was hard to even type. My aunt was my best friend growing up. The thing is, your sister is unwell and I hate how this is affecting you and her DD.
I wish I had better advice. I just don't like her being in the position of puppetmaster when all you want to do is care for your niece and spend time with her.
Yes. I don't think this is about you at all. I think your sister is very upset about something else and is using you as her whipping boy.
You have said that the two of you get on very well when you're not fighting, and she may be taking her misery out on you because she trusts you to carry on loving her and her daughter, come what may. The threats to stop you seeing your niece may be some sort of test of your love, because when she sees you upset about it, she feels reassured that you won't abandon either of them.
Just after my D-day someone crossed me at work and I exploded. My colleagues were in shock, because my behavior was so completely out-of-character. Had they known about my inner devastation, they would have been less astounded. For my outburst had little to do with the incident and far more to do with the affair and my imminent mental collapse because of it.
I don't know what is making your sister behave so horribly toward you, but I'd put money on its being the result of something in her own life. Obviously, in this forum, my mind immediately springs to fear of cracks, or even a major crisis, in her relationship, since her fiancé is away 75% of the time. :-( Especially in view of her tirade about never being able to have another child. Her cruelty over your childlessness might be the result of jealousy of your own happiness and some weird attempt to reassure herself that her daughter is at least one relationship-related component that she has and you don't. If so, it does not excuse her cruelty at all, but it might explain it and perhaps make it a little easier to forgive.
All the pushing for you to get pregnant could also be because she wants to tie your man to you. Or, if she's really tipping over sanity's edge, maybe because she feels her child has damaged her own relationship and misery loves company....
But it may be some other problem entirely. Money worries, perhaps, if they're struggling to amass the money for their own place. Money problems can cause great stress. And once one has led an independent life, it can be very hard to return to living with one's parents. Especially when one has a child. She may well be suffering from depression, too.
Is it possible that her insistence on the long drive allegedly to sort things out between the two of you could actually have been an excuse? That her real goal was to create a situation where the two of you were alone, so that she could unburden herself to you? And perhaps her courage failed her in the end, and she became angry and irrational instead. Or when the situation went so completely awry, her vague plan did too, and her mental instability accelerated and increased.
This is all conjecture, or course and I may have completely misread the situation. I half hope that I have. But if I were in this situation, I think I'd try to get her on her own, in some fairly relaxed environment, and very gently probe a little.
I'm sorry you've had such a miserable few days. It must have been emotionally draining as well as upsetting. :-(
[This message edited by Cally60 at 6:15 AM, July 16th (Tuesday)]