Is it wrong for my older sister to treat me like this?
Hi, recently my older sister has come home from university and I feel she has been bullying me. Our family situation is that I am in yr12, and live with both my parents. I help one parent to care for the other who is terminally ill, and my older sister has been recovering from a breakdown for the last 10-11 months. She came home around 5 days ago, and we got along fine - we used to fight in the past but I have been on my best behaviour to draw a line so we can get along and have a good relationship - it seems dumb to still be falling out at 17 and 20 years of age.
It seems everytime she comes home from Uni she has something to have a go at me about, and it is almost always something to do with being myself and my personality. 2 days ago out of the blue she sternly looked me in the eyes saying I had an attitude problem just as I was about to go out with my friends. The scenario was I planned this from a week ago and last minute in the morning i had to organise the clothes, and tidy the kitchen which took about an hour, making me late. She asked where i was going and i said " I'm going to the cinema with ... but i'm late because I had to do the clothes ... etc."
She said I shouldn't see this as a burden and i'm rude . The thing is, I was completely calm when I spoke to her, I wasn't annoyed, i was happy - it was the first time i'd gone out with a friend in months.
When i got home that evening she'd created her argument, " my body language, I glare at her, I'm rude, I need to grow up , and most of all my attitude." I started getting upset, as this was the exactly the kind of things she has been accusing me of for the last year as a result of her paranoia and physchosis. She hasn't been home for months and doesn't understand how much i've changed yet she still sees the faults in me and it is frustrating. I tried to talk things through with her, and everytime i tried to explain myself she would imply i was in denial or that i'm arguing back, and shout over the top of me whilst i was talking. Then i started shaking with tears - I was so fed up, and she said I have alot to think about because the fact that i won't accept what she's saying proves how much of a problem I have.
It all seems out of the blue because she was fine before, I admit she is lazy as a result of her breakdown so I have found I am doing things twice over as she will leave a mess behind, but I have accepted this as I always help out.
I tried to talk to both my parents and they both agreed that yes i can seem a sassy when i'm in a bad mood but over the last few months ( especially with my parent's disease becoming serverly worse) I have grown up and it is nothing to worry about. It's frustrating becasue they will reassure me everything is fine, but whenever my (working/ not ill) parent has a bad day she will criticise me saying how i never help her. I get so lost and upset because she know's I will help her with everything that needs doing, yet she will thank me one day, then call me lazy the next, when i do what i can on a regular basis - i feel so cheated.(Annecdote - sometimes i feel she will push her luck - i will have just finished helping to cook and tidy away and start on my homework upstairs when she will ask me to make her some tea ( when she is just being too lazy too). It's fine i make her some tea. but if she is already in the kitchen getting a mug from the cupboard and I ask her to pass me one so i can make some tea she will yell at me and call me lazy - and how i need to help myself. I always thought it was common sense that if she was standing in the way she could pass me one. I wasn't asking her to make tea. Sorry i'm going a bit off topic...)
Yet still my sister feels the need to partonise me. There is so much more to explain but I'm aware that this is very long already, but may I please have some advice,(from both perspectives as i do want to change if i do have an underlying attitude problem) I don't want to keep running to my parents and stressing them out about a circular narrative; but i do believe my sister is blaming me for her physcosis and trying to make me feel bad about myself. Thank you so much.
Learn to recognize when she is baiting you. A smile is all you have to do to end the conversation.
Check yourself about your attitude. when she asked where you were going, you could have said, "To the cinema. see ya." instead of listing all this things you had to do so now you were late.
It takes two to argue. Learn to stop these kinds of conversations before they escalate.
PS - thanks for taking care of your ill parent and cleaning up so much. I am sure you are appreciated, even though no one says so.
you use the term bullying. clearly, your family life is kind of tough at the moment and that will understandably cause some strain on family relationships. it's not uncommon for siblings to fight at ANY age, of course they rub each other the wrong ways. but, you said your sister was suffering from a breakdown. please understand that your sister may be in a tender stage and is just lashing out at you saying things she doesn't mean. HURTING PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE. its not your fault and yes, while it may be unfair, that's life unfortunately. your sister isn't doing this for any other reason than she's not well and that's making her miserable and cranky. so don't hate the sinner, hate the sin. blame the breakdown, not her. remember, any mental disease is one of the mind...
I think you and your sister need to stick closer together more than ever and this isn't the time to fall out because you both need to be there to comfort each other in the event your terminally ill parent passes away. im so sorry, your story is tragic. but please, be strong...for you AND your sister
I totally agree with CAPELIFE has stated but I would like to add to that.
From what you have mentioned in relation to your attitude and behaviour, I dont see that the problem lies in you. You seem very mature for your age and seem to be doing more than your fare share and it does not look as if you have 'attitude'. Well done.
However, Your sister has no right to blame you for her illness though and maybe she is at a stage where no matter what you say, you will still not be good enough. She is going through a difficult time and you both should stick by each other but again, that effort and commitment needs to come from both sides for it to work. You seem to be putting in the effort yet your sister is not. Maybe you need to speak to her about this and maybe ask her to get further proffessional help as it is not fair on you.
You are going through a very difficult time but under the circumstances it looks like you have worked hard at keeping it all together.
I do hope you find peace with your situation as it must be heart breaking.
Sorry if this is long. My father got cancer just before i graduated college and since my parents were divorced i did my best to help at home. I also have an older sister and it was almost identical situation. My sister would not help with anything, was getting drunk and doing drugs almost every night. And then she would hit me and yell at me and tell me everything i should be doing better. She was having a breakdown and it was also the drugs making her violent. The fact was, it was easier for her to bully me about how i handled things rather than facing her fears directly and doing what she can do too. Maybe she cant even do anything at all right now. Its a terrible but common way to handle something. Everyone wants your parent to be well or have the best care in the universe or to help in some way. But more important than who is doing what and tearing eachother apart is the environment your parent is in. Its the people your parent loves and worked their lives to build and protect, being loving with one another and bringing happiness home when they can and supporting one another? Dont forget you are only 17, you have your own life to live and you cannot take more of this on yourself than you are able to. whatever happens you cant let the illness consume you and your family and your happiness too. Because its going to try to tear everyone and everything apart around you. You cant control the others in your family, but remind them or if you cant at least remind yourself. how lucky your parent is to have a family, how much you love all of them, how your parent deserves the best because you love them, and the best they will have is their life with all of you, living and supporting eachother, even bringing laughter where you can, smiles, and everything wonderful they can experience. If its safe to talk to your sister if she isnt violent or super wound up, maybe next time she starts remind her that you love your parents, you love her, and youre going out! And if she says you have an attitude or blah blah, tell her you are doing the right thing by refusing to have an argument. she should do something constructive by herself or take a moment to reflect on what shes acomplishing. because its not going to go her way no matter how much she badgers or worries about anything. Nothing is in her control but herself. All she can do is her best as do you, you love her and she should be happy... Even the most responsible person on the planet needs a break sometimes, and she isnt here. You can only give what you can and if someone else says that isnt good enough that is there problem, not any fault of yours. Be yourself, give what is in you and when its time to stop, dont feel an ounce of guilt. be happy where you can find it. Try not to feed their anger with anger, blow it out with the truth: Everyone is scared, everyone feels overwhelmed sometimes. and you are all doing/giving as muc as you are able to give/do/be because you all love one another. Live in joy and peace as much as possible. That is far more important than tearing into eachother when emotions get out of control. the worst thing that can happen is everything your parent loves going up in flames around them over the illness. because then they lose literally everything. Take a break when you need one, let others know your taking a break if you need to, and dont be ashamed. Dont be destroyed. Never think being who you are is bad or not good enough. And everyone steps up when they can. Your sister might be more supportive later. Bring as much joy as you can, and remind or show everyone whats important. And if they cant follow, forgive them but dont join them. This is your life too, and you are allowed to live it. Its actually really important that you do. Otherwise whats the point? Does anything get better by making eachother miserable? Does it enhance your parent's wellness for any of you to be angry or small or sad or critical? If heres no good use for it, throw it out! Some things last longer than sickness, when your parent is healed or when their difficult time is ended, what has endured? What has been saved? Who was loved?Longer than a sickness. that is what is most important. Sorry this was so long, hope something helps. (Internet hug)
You are taking so much on yourself at such a young age find time everyday to remind yourself that you are a great person doing the best you can. Your sister could choose to help like you but instead is looking for attention by playing the victim. She is also trying to make u doubt yourself to share her unhappiness. Don't get engaged in this downward spiral. It will really disarm her if you answer her back with a comment like I'm happy with myself, I am proud of me etc..
look after yourself, you can't waste energy on this negativity best of luck to you