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Sister is very distant, uncaring

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Carnelian

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Joined
Jul 29, 2017
Messages
47
Location
midwest US
As I said in another message, I am recovering alone and managing all right. However, I am disappointed in my senior age sister because she had not called
me in the last nine weeks, or since a week after I left the hospital for a double bipass and valve replacement. I sent her a nice card, still no response.
She does not work so she has plenty of time to call. I don't need her to visit. Last time I saw her here I asked her what took her so long driving (16 miles) and she
began screaming at me in a fit so I told her to leave. I hate waiting. Days later she was in my neighborhood on business and did not even ring my bell to say hello. Instead she left a
nasty birthday card. She is either very kind or unkind.
It is strange because she helped me so much while I was in the hospital and preparing to go in. She was there most days very conscientiously. like she did her duty as she sees it and then quits with no follow through. We were never close to start with, so her time in the hospital was out of character for her, rising to the occasion.
She also never called once after I had cancer over 10 years ago. As if it never happened.

You think I should call? She does not react well to anger or reproach or any criticism. She figures she owes me nothing, BTW she is mainly the only family member I have.
 

pellicle

Professional Dingbat
Joined
Nov 4, 2012
Messages
7,432
Location
Queensland, OzTrayLeeYa
Good morning (from Australia)

some thoughts:

How elderly is your sister? I'm asking as I wonder if this is some sign of dementure? I know when my mother was eventually diagnosed with dementure (not unlike Alzheimers disease) it suddenly made many odd behaviour issues in the preceeding years seem clearer.

Have you always had a "rough" relationship? You say:
She is either very kind or unkind.
It is strange because she helped me so much while I was in the hospital and preparing to go in. She was there most days very conscientiously.
which seems to suggest that she's either very moody or you've said something in a manner insensitive to her mood.

These things often go back a long way.

As to calling, I would always prefer the path of open communication, but tact is needed. If you don't feel like now is a good time, perhaps leave it?
 
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honeybunny

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Jun 20, 2015
Messages
1,045
Location
Outside Houston, Texas.
Superbob, I'm flagging this post for you re: support groups.

I agree with pellicle' comments. I'll add that you need to also take care of yourself emotionally so if calling your sister will expose you to verbal and emotional abuse you may want to hold off. May I ask why you want to contact her if you suspect she will act negatively? Also, do you have anyone else supporting you at this time? Some hospitals have support groups for heart patients. Superbob is active in Mended Hearts. He may be able to offer some suggestions. And of course you'll find support on this site. Bless you as you continue your recovery.
 

dornole

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Jan 5, 2014
Messages
728
Location
Minnesota, US
You can't get blood from a rock. It sounds like your sister is not capable of providing the kind of emotional support you need, only occasional, practical crisis care. Some people just don't have those emotional skills and if you're demanding them, that's only going to push her further away as she'll feel criticized for being who she is. A lot of people are super bad with illness and grief.

Definitely don't call to complain she didn't call you. Call if you want to catch up with her. Invite her if you'd like to see her. Call her and ask for practical help if you need something. Or don't. It sounds like you thanked her with a card for what she did for you and you're not obligated to force an emotional relationship just because you're sisters. She did step up to some extent to her practical family duties when you were in the hospital and you should do the same for her as you're able to. Find emotional support from friends and groups. Your sister isn't up to the task and you'll both probably be happier if you accept who you both are and what your relationship is good for and what it isn't. capable of providing
 

epstns

Premium User
VR.org Supporter
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5,155
Location
Chicago area
I think dornole may have figured it out. I work with some folks who could be your sister (but they are males). They really do care, but have no idea of how to show it. Their normal demeanor is that of distancing themselves from almost everyone, yet if one has a life-crisis, they are incredibly kind and generous. Some people just don't know how the rest of us share our feelings and emotions. They still have feelings and emotions, they just have no idea how to share them.

I think dornole's advice about easing back in the communication with sis makes sense, too. Just try to gently ease into whatever degree of contact you think will "work" without pushing too hard and risking the nuclear response. That said, do seek support and day-to-day contact from other groups and people. Sometimes friends are better at that than family. (I speak from my own experience. My entire remaining family consists of one sister who lives about 300 miles from me. I never hear from her unless I initiate the contact, ever. The last time I saw sis was at my daughter's wedding 4 1/2 years ago. Cest la vie.)
 

Superman

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Joined
Oct 3, 2009
Messages
994
Location
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Your sister visited driving 16 miles and your initial reaction is,
"Last time I saw her here I asked her what took her so long driving (16 miles) and she began screaming at me in a fit so I told her to leave."
?

I'm just speculating, but it sounds like there might be difficulty in showing compassion and understanding both directions here. If I drive to visit somebody, and the reaction isn't, "Thanks for coming, it's good to see you", but rather, "What took you so long?" - My desire to visit in the future would be diminished.

I grant that tone is often missing from written communication, and it may well have been an innocent, "How was traffic?" kind of question.

I know from experience that our post operation delivery doesn't always match our intent. We're down, unhealthy, and it's difficult to make like friendly conversation because everything comes out different than we intend.
 

Carnelian

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 29, 2017
Messages
47
Location
midwest US
I agree with Dornole and Pellicle. I have not contacted her or plan to. She would act like nothing happened and not talk about it anyway.
We do not have any reason for meeting, usually and I know she is reluctant to use the phone. That's the way she is. And I have no desire
to meet for a dinner or whatever. What bothered me is that she took 45 minutes to go to a store when I told her not to buy me anything then she got me things I didnt want. The situation reminds me of a rubber band stretched out until it broke, You can't turn a sows ear into a silk purse
is better than blood from a rock.
 

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