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Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Conversation With My Sister

My sister texted me - Fion, can you call me please. I didn't pick it up until the next morning so I texted her back and told her that and asked what was up. Her return text was - never mind, everything's fine.

So, at my 7am, her 11pm, I call. What prevented her from calling instead of texting, I don't know, unless she's in arrears on her phone bills again and they've locked her international call facility.

Me: Hi Rhon, what's up.

My sister: I'm depressed Fion, no work, Kirk left me again, I don't know what to do with my life. I'm sitting at home all day.

Me: I'm glad he's not around anymore, he's very bad news.

My sister: Well, he's gone for good this time.

Me: Uh huh, like the last five times? You know you'll take him back if he wants to psychologically bully you some more. And that's the worst kind of bullying, that noone sees, that you pretend you don't see. I hate to say this but I almost wish he would give you a black eye because that might help you understand what he's doing to you, invisibly, and you also wouldn't be able to explain that away so easily to your friends.

My sister: He loves me.

Me: Oh my god, he does not, Rhona. He sees you as someone he can get away with bullying and no matter how awful he is to you, you will let him back in. He picks at you, he even told you that he doesn't care about you.

My sister: He didn't mean it.

Me: You may think that and yes, it could be explained away as something said in the heat of the moment, the problem is that every one of his actions, supports exactly what he said.

My sister: I don't know. I'm going to a counselor tomorrow.

Me: A counselor doesn't see the interaction that goes on between the two of you, doesn't see the way he puts you down, doesn't see his manipulation of your drinking problems. Doesn't see how he goads you on until you do something irrational and then when you do that, he blames you for doing it. And you don't tell the truth about any of these things, you always excuse his atrocious behaviour and buy into his story of it being your fault. I know, I've witnessed it first hand and have talked about this to you more than once.

My sister: *Silence*

Me: *Getting riled up* Rhona, you're 45, it's time you grew up and took responsibility for your choices and your decisions. Or at least make some. What are you planning to do?

My sister: I think I want to go to live in Edinburgh, rent a small apartment, get re-trained. As I'll only have Shaz (her Jack Russel) with me that will be easier. I'm going to miss Lupo so much.

Me: Well that's a start. I hope you understand that being re-trained doesn't mean you'll get a job as that would put you in the inexperienced batch of whatever you're being trained to do. And with unemployment what it is, you'd be up against a lot of people who have the experience. Quite honestly, maybe you should at least look at doing some waitressing again as a starting point.

My sister: Yes, that's a good idea but right now I have no work.

Me: I know but it's not like you're homeless or penniless so why don't you get out of the house and at least do some volunteer work.

My sister: Yes, I could do that, I just feel so depressed.

Me: Well moping around the house and drinking until you're sozzled every night won't help.

My sister: I know, Fion, I know.

Me: And for god's sake do not even think about letting that asshole back into your life. Move on from this now, once and for all and grab hold of your life.

My sister: He left me, I didn't leave him.

Me: Yup, I understand the difference but it's good he made that decision, now let him stick to it. Make him stick to it. Do not let him across the threshhold again.

My sister: I still don't know what to do about my money (her inheritance).

Me: Well, Rhona, that's another decision you have to make because I'm not making it for you. It's still sitting in my account and you could have had it in an interest-bearing account had you answered my email months and months ago.

My sister: I found one place a few weeks ago, with 3.4%, but I have to pay 20% tax.

Me: If they're still offering 3.4% that's pretty good but the world is changing every day so you'll have research it again. As for tax, well I know that will be a first for you but taxes are just part of life.

My sister: Fion, would you check on the internet....

Me: What? What? You've just told me you're sitting at home all day doing nothing, you know how damn busy I am and you are asking me to do that for you?

My sister: I don't have internet at home (no surprise) and I don't like going to internet cafes.

Me: Well I don't much like rolling out of bed at 6am but I do it because I have to. So don't ask me to do that for you when you know how busy my days are and you've admitted to sitting at home doing nothing all day.

My sister: OK OK don't get so angry at me, Fion.

Me: Well I am angry at you, Rhona. And frustrated. Angry that you continue to expect me to solve all your problems, angry that you continue to let someone mess with your head, angry that you expect me to drop things and help you out every time. I'm angry that I heard you pouring yourself another drink during this conversation. I'm frustrated with you wanting to keep playing the victim and expecting me to dig you out of every hole you find yourself in.

My sister: I'd better let you get to work.

Me: I'm at work, but yes, I need to get back to work. Good luck with the counselor. By the way, I'm still waiting for the company documents so I can close the contract with the seller and collect my final 10% (for the sale of the dive centre) and still waiting for the vaccination records for Lupo and Toffee.

My sister: OK. Bye now.

I'm impatient with her, I know, but I'm simply no longer able to, nor do I wish to, constantly be looked upon as her rescuer. A few months ago, I saw a book and bought it, to send to her. I've delayed doing that in case it was too hard for her to read. But I really think that now is the time. The list of symptoms on the back cover screamed out to me: This is Rhona.....

. a shaky sense of identity (check)
. sudden violent outbursts (check)
. oversensitivity to real or imagined rejection (check)
. brief, turbulent love affairs (check)
. frequent period of intense depression (check)
. eating disorders, drug abuse and other self-destructive tendencies (check)
. an irrational fear of abandonment and an inability to be alone (check)

It's about understanding Borderline Personality Disorder. So, do I read it to understand her better? Or do I send it to her so she understands herself better? Or maybe both?


Anonymous said...

Fi, i'm so so sorry that you are watching your sister be passive in her own life.

Depression often makes people self-centered (i.e., will you look this up for me) and kind of narcisstic.

I think you should read the book for you -- she's not going to read it, at least not now. When she's ready -- you'll know.

Be kind to her and to yourself. It's not normal what she's doing. She's not well. It's just hard to figure out how to keep your sanity in all this.

Fusion said...


I've been putting off a talk with my sister for a while now, because the next time I do, it's not going to be pretty (talking about whats left for her in the inherintance). She has been irresponiable for most her adult life, and I fear she'll end up on the street one day, and there's nothing I can do about it...

I hope your sister gets the help she needs at last Fiona, but it sounds like I wouldn't hold your breath.

anna said...

I think you should try detaching yourself from the situation without leaving her out in the cold.

You're her sister and you love her and its frustrating to see her this way. Maybe you need to think of her as some quasi-stranger.

Think of her as a friend of a friend. Pity her and help her the way you would help an acquaintance... politely helpful but somewhat distanced from the situation.

I don't know. My advice sucks. I agree with Hurricane - your sister is not well. I also agree that she probably won't read the book. You should read it, though. It may help you.


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