My Sister’s Mother Pt 1: The Estrangement

I am going to start this story at the ending.

This is a story I haven’t told. I wonder if it is because the person I am most angry at and hurt by is still alive and very much a part of my life in certain ways –

She is my sister’s mom, and she also abused me.

To this point in my sharing, I have kept it safe – speaking only of the people who are dead, or thousands of miles away from me. However, the 18 months with my sister’s mom truly solidified any doubt I had as a child that I was nothing but a burden.

She was supposed to be the mother I never had, the final stop in my crazy life to that point – at least that is what my young mind hoped for – instead she proved just like every other adult in my life. Dangerous and untrustworthy.

However, First…

Before I get into the story of my sister’s mother and the 18 months of emotional abuse, narcissism, and instability I experienced with her first I want to talk about how I got to the place of readiness to share.

This is a part of my story that I have avoided almost completely during these last 4 years of healing – coincidently, that is when I stopped talking to her, 4 years ago.

The Estrangement

It was May of 2016 and I was graduating college. At 36, and with three previous attempts under my belt – this was a huge accomplishment for me.

To this point in my life, I didn’t often invite my sister’s mother to family events because she had proven unreliable and disappointing to both me and my children over the years – this event was no different, so I hadn’t invited her.


The Final Let Down

In the week prior to my graduation ceremony I found myself on the phone with her talking about the upcoming event. I don’t know why, but I asked her if she was interested in attending – and boy was she.

She excitedly made me promise to send the information via text when I got home and I assured her a ticket would be waiting for her at the door at the event. I remember I felt bad I hadn’t asked her sooner, she seems so excited to share this with me.

I didn’t speak with her again the rest of the week.

I didn’t hear from her the morning of my graduation either, nor did I see her prior to the start of the ceremony. When everything was over, that’s when I saw the missed call during the middle of my graduation, no messages.

Two days later I received a text message (not a call) about how she’d had a breakdown or something and couldn’t make the event. *Of course she had*

I never replied. I had just begun my healing journey; I was just starting to shoulder up with how badly I was treated as a child – I wasn’t about to have someone in real life make me feel like shit over, and over, and over again.

I was done.

Holding My Boundary

In the months that followed, she never tried to call or message me. She eventually got the idea that I was no longer speaking to her, which was confirmed any time she spoke to my sister and instead tried to create family drama.

Once it was clear to her that this was not something I was “getting over”, her anger flared.

How dare I pull something like this when we are family. How dare I make other family members choose between us. How dare I create uncomfortable situations around holidays and special events.

At least that is what I kept hearing from my sister, I hated how she got caught in the middle.

Eventually, her mother gave up and I was allowed the space and silence I needed.

I used my time very wisely.


Letting Go of What is Not Mine to Carry

In the nearly four years that followed my very abrupt decision to cut communication, I have worked hard on myself.

I have learned what boundaries mean to me, how to communicate them, and how to maintain them. I realized now I am allowed to make choices for myself that others may not like and that is okay.

I have worked to recognize my triggers and where they come from and I have learned what it means to let go of what other’s have done to me because it is not my burden to carry.

Letting go isn’t easy – and I haven’t let go of everything.

But in the case of my sister’s mom – I have begun to understand her actions against me have nothing to do with who I am, or who I was as a child. Her treatment of me is a reflection of her own issues and upbringing; of her own need for personal healing.

I will not take responsibility for that. And so I have made the decision to let go of my anger and my hurt – and no longer actively avoid her. With new boundaries and awareness in place – I will use the reconnection of this relationship as a learning experience and see where it goes.

Telling the Story

Part of letting go of all of this, is sharing the story of the 18 months I lived with her before she kicked me out at 17 (and again at 21 with a small child), and the nearly 20 years afterwards of narcissisms that affected me and my son very negatively.

Part of letting go is releasing my shame, my fear, and my embarrassment if she learns of this and reacts negatively. I am always afraid of being called a liar when I talk about my abuse.

I am actively and intentionally countering that.

This story is mine to tell and this is my healing in real time. As I unfold this three part story, I will share with you:

  • how I came to live with her in the 10 weeks after the trial/suicide of my grandfather for molesting me
  • the instability of her as my guardian (5 moves – 3 states, 2 of them twice in 18 months),
  • her attempts to sign me into foster care (twice)
  • her emotional neglect, and the years of dysfunction

Finally, I will share why I have chosen to let go of this burden and what my hopes are for the future of my relationship with her and my healing process in general.

Stay Tuned.

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