Something much more serious than you'd be used to from me today. I have debated writing this for a good long while. There are members of my extended family who know of this blog (fear not, you are not the annoying relatives in question) or of the photoblog, and so this post might at some point fall under the eyes of those two individuals this is about. So be it. I'm beyond caring what they think anymore.
Toxic people come into our lives from time to time. If we're lucky, they're nothing more than a passing unpleasantness, easily forgotten. If we're not... they're someone with a long presence in our lives. Such has been the case for me.
Last year was a very difficult year for me. The death of my mother was a hard loss, something that still weighs heavily on me. It came after a long, long period of personal turmoil I have been working through, of living with depression.
This was triggered by my sisters, but built up over years. To keep the peace in my family, I kept a great deal to myself, held back things I would have liked to have said, about their behaviour, about the men in their lives. Out of consideration for their own issues, and out of respect for my parents, I chose to keep that to myself. And all of those things just kept building up inside me, eating away inside, doing incredible damage to me.
And it was all for nothing.
They threw that all in my face by treating my parents horribly some years ago, hijacking their move to a retirement home, yelling and screaming at them, making unfounded accusations, treating them like children. And they never apologized for it. When I found out about it, all of that negative stuff that I'd held inside for years came pouring out. I came apart at the seams. I knew it was coming for a long while- I knew that I was hurting, but I chose not to say enough. So when it all came breaking apart, it hit hard. The thing about hitting bottom is that's what it takes to seek help. It's taken time and a good therapist to work through these things, and it's an ongoing process, but it has helped. I understand both of my sisters now- probably more than they understand themselves. It doesn't excuse what they have done, but I understand what drives both of them. My parents, to their credit, did not push me to make peace. They accepted that I had to take care of my own well being, particularly given that neither of my sisters were making the slightest effort to make amends to them, let alone change the way they deal with the world.
Through therapy, I've come to understand that their behaviour towards me constitutes emotional abuse. One of the more profound questions my therapist asked at one point was "did I feel loved by them?" The answer was no. More like I was an inconvenience. They certainly have never shown any interest in my life. And the more I spoke of it, the more I admitted that even before I understood the meaning of the word, the feeling I got was that they were holding me in contempt. Another line of questioning was to put into words the way their words feel to me. I remarked that my elder sister is two faced: very civil face to face, but vicious when the other person's back is turned. Her words are like a dagger, stabbing deep. The younger sister's words are like a sledgehammer, bludgeoning over and over again. Both of them are toxic to me.
When my mother died, I dreaded going to the funeral. Not just because this was my mother's funeral- that was reason enough, of course. It would be the first time since all of this happened that I had seen either sister. In the funeral home and at the funeral the next day, I was decidedly cold to both of them. I needed to be. The younger of the two cornered me after the funeral. She said things that made me think at the time she was actually making an effort. I asked her, for her own sake and that of her son, to get help for her own issues, to seek out counselling or therapy. To this day, I don't think she has. Her behaviour since then, relayed to me through other relatives, suggests that she continues to do things as always, with a huge chip on her shoulder and a grudge against the world.
In November, my father had a medical issue come up- something that was resolved quickly enough. I was in touch with my brother and one of my sisters-in-law, keeping me up to date. My elder sister, however, emailed me about it as well, from her home across the country. The entire tone of her message was a "what's your problem" kind of manner. She called me out on the fact that I had been cold to her at the time of the funeral. I wonder if it has ever occurred to her that there were valid reasons for that. A couple of years ago an email from her would have had me in a foul mood all day. This time, however, I simply replied back in as civil a way as possible that I have been going through a lot of issues and problems, and that part of that had to do with my own decisions, and part with both of them, and the men in their lives. It might well be the last formal contact I have with her; I have not heard a word back from her since. I don't expect to.
Over the Christmas holidays, I was willing to make at least an effort with the younger sister, who lives in southern Ontario not far from my father. I would have at least tried to be civil, for Dad's sake. My father spoke to her on the phone, and she made it quite clear in a final way: I was not welcome in her home.
So be it. She can't say I wouldn't have made an effort... but she's the one who blew up the bridge. My dad was worried about my reaction... but I'm okay with it. If she wants to wallow in her own rage for the rest of her life, she's welcome to it. I don't need that in my life. What she doesn't know is that was the last chance she will ever have with me.
I'm done. I'm done with both of them. They're not my sisters anymore. They're not family. Enough's enough. You can only be hurt by someone so many times before you reach the point of no return. I very nearly destroyed myself for them, and for nothing. It is too damned exhausting. I'm in a better place now, and I will not compromise that. Ever again.