I Am Trying To Let Go. It Started With Small Fry Stuff, But I Think It's A Symptom Of Deeper Issues.I've hit a wall in communicating with my sister. We're pretty much on non speaking terms at this point. I've tried to make right on my part. I've tried to approach her and discuss what's been going on. I get dismissed, shot down,and verbally attacked at every turn. I have made apologies and have not received ONE sincere apology from her. I know I have to do my part to make things right. I can't seem to figure out how AND honestly I'm still hurt and a little bit angry.
As of this last October, 2011, I had been living with some friends in a really tiny house. It worked ok because it was financially viable. We all seemed to know our roles and seemed to eventually be able to talk when something bothered us. As of October, I made a decision to move into a house with my sister. She was sorting out some things with her fiance and didn't think things were working out living with him at the time. My parents do alright for themselves and were able to purchase a nice home, play landlords, and rent this house to my sister and her four children. My sister asked me if I would like to move in and offered up the master bedroom. It made a lot of sense because the rent she was asking was scarcely more than I was paying, and I would have a lot more room, so it seemed.
Prior to moving in, it had seemed like years of damaged relationship had gotten way better between she and I. The move seems to have bring out the worst in us again. We got in one major blowout back in November and I thought we had sorted things out. Over the last month or so, things have been uncomfortable.
It seems silly, because it starts with petty stuff, escalates, becomes a battle of wills, and verbal assault on both sides. I'm as guilty as her, but I have tried to make it right. I don't know what else to do.
Here's what has spawned the latest in our battle. About a month ago, she asked me if I would help paint the deck out back. My parents require certain maintenance on the house and asked us to help out with that. I said I would, but that I had a busy week. She asked me on a Sunday. Over the week, I told her I would get to it over the weekend. On that following Saturday, my sister texted me (mind you, I live in the same house, how annoying is that?) asking if I was going to paint the deck. I responded that I would do a little in the afternoon and the rest on Sunday. She replied "It is afternoon" via text. I came downstairs and told her that I was folding my laundry and that I would work on it, and then she jumped my **** saying she was pissed and that I was blowing her off. I tried to explain to her that she only perceived that I was and that just because I did'nt jump to it the minute she asked didn't mean I was not intending to get it done. I tried to tactfully explain that I would do things on my time.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks later. I was in my room cleaning up, getting ready for the day. My sister sends my seven year old niece upstairs to ask me if I tracked mud into the house. I said "I don't know". I checked the shoes I was wearing. As far as I could tell, I did NOT track mud in the house, but, figured, oh well, it's not that deep, so I went to the kitchen and swept up the dried mud debris that was on the linoleum floor (a miniscule amount I might add). I swept a pile over near the trash can in the pantry. I couldn't find a dust pan and went to look for one. I got a phone call, answered it. I did something else in my room upstairs, laundry or something. I come downstairs to my sister jumping my ****, yelling, carrying on "Were you going to throw this pile of dirt away or what?! I just walked right through it!" My blood began to boil, but I just calmly started sweeping up the pile. As I was doing so, I attempted to calm myself and in a low key voice I said, "Could you please try not to yell and cuss me out over small stuff?" She launched into a list of attacks, saying "This **** doesn't just come out of the blue! You don't do **** around here! etc." This is a half truth. I could probably do more. I take care of my living area mostly, do my dishes, take the trash out, etc. I don't spend much time in the living room and common areas, so I haven't spent a great deal of time vacuming etc.
At this point, my sister and I became engaged in a battle of wills. Her point being that she has SOOO much on her plate with her kids, etc. My point was that she could have some tact, if she wants something done she can politely and respectfully ask, etc.
The next day I helped some friends of mine move during the morning and afternoon. I was still steaming over the previous day and my sister's apparent lack of ability to recognize her part of situations and recognize that she does not talk to people respectfully. I was still pretty jaded and pissed. I came home from helping my friends move and took a nap. When I woke up, I decided that I need not be in the same house as her that evening, because it would probably lead to more bickering, as I was in no state of mind to talk to her. I called up the friends that I helped move and offered to come over and help them unpack. As I went to leave, I went to my car in the garage. My sister was entertaining friends. I let my anger get the best of me. I didn't realize how untactful my statement was until later. My sister's friends car was behind mine. I came into the kitchen and something to the effect of "Hi. Can whoever drives that big white thing move it please?" Not the most tactful and not one of my most shining moments.
I went about the night, helped my friends unpack, hung out, ate dinner, and watched movies with them. By late that night, I was calm and felt like I was over the situation. Oh I wish.
I came home to a note on my bedroom door . . . "So no you're choosing to be an ******* to my friends? Innappropriate and embarrassing! Out of line! Grow the **** up! We obviously need to talk. If you can't then something has to give. HOW DARE YOU!"
I attempted to write a response note with my trembling hand. My blood was boiling. I eventually mustered up the following note . . . .
"I am sorry if how I approached the car situation was perceived as being an *******. I simply said 'can whoever drives the big white thing please move it' I realize this was probably not the most tactful way to approach it. I am sorry for that. However, it does not even come CLOSE to the letter you just sent me, a verbal attack! That letter was mean spirited, vindictive, and out of line. You really need to look at your own behavior once in awhile. We can talk, but I'm not going to continue to have you come at me the way you have been. This letter is just another representation of how you have been talking to me in person. So, if you can talk to me respectfully, then we can talk about what is going on."
The next day, I was a little more calm, wrote another note and left it on her door, stating that I was wrong how I approached her friend and asked her how I can make it right. Later that evening I approached my sister in person, apologized, and asked her if we could talk. Her reply to my apology? . . . "I'm sorry I wrote that note, but I was pissed." I tried to reason with her and tell her that I didn't want to continue this animosity. Then I got shut down, dismissed, "I'm still pissed", "I don't have time", "This is stupid", etc. etc. etc.
I gave up this week for a couple days to collect myself, so we've been playing the silent scorn game. By Wednesday night, I was tired, sad, worn out. I wrote another note, but this time, it was an attempt to move forward . . . .
I don't know if you still wanted to take some time to talk about things and how we've interacted over the last few weeks or not. If you do, I have a few requests. This is not a list to be commanding or self-rightous. It is just some guidelines that I think we need to go by if we're going to have a productive conversation This is a set of ground rules for MY behavior as well as yours. Some of it may seem ovious, but you and I tend to get caught up in power struggles and battles of wills when we are angry, so if we can keep these things in mind, I think the conversation will be more productive. I know that I am as guilty as you are when it comes to this stuff, so I expect myself to abide by these things as well.
1. We will not yell, curse, call each other names, or even raise our voices unnecessarily.
2. We will not cut the other person off when they are speaking. We will let them finish what they are saying, then respond.
3. We will not list of each other's faults, past wrong's, rattle off accusations, etc. In other words, we don't need to play the blame game. If there is something that we want the other person to change, we will figure out a way to tactfully and respectfully ask them to do so. (The word "please" helps)
4. We will not list off a list of demands. Again, if there is something we want the other preson to do, we will figure out a way to tactfully and respectfully ask them to do so. (Again, the word "please" goes a long way)
5. If we apologize for our behavior, we will not follow it up with an excuse, using the word "but". EXAMPLE - If I lash out in anger and call you a "*****", I should not apologize by saying "I'm sorry that I called you a *****, BUT, I was pissed off." The fact that I was pissed off would be obvious, and it doesn't make the name calling ok. Using the word "but" followed by an excuse discredits the apology and makes it insincere. I simply need to say something such as "I am sorry that I called you a *****. I was wrong to do that. I'll try to do better in the future." (or something along those lines)
6. If our feelings have been hurt, we will figure out a way to tactfully and respectfully let the other preson know.
7. We will not discredit or dismiss each other's feelings if they say that they have felt offended or attacked. We will acknowledge each other's rights to opinions and that we both have feelings about situations. We will not say things like "I think that's stupid," "This conversaiton is stupid," etc.
So that is basically what I think we need to keep in mind. if you think there are things that need to be added, let me know. If you disagree with any or all of it, then, of course, that is your right also.
These are the terms by which I am willing to have a conversation about what has been going on. If these things are not possible, then I am not willing to sit down and have a converation.
Beyond that, these are the standars by which I expect that we should treat each other in the future as well. If these standards are not met at any point, I will do my best first of all, to not react, but beyond that, I will just walk away from the converation. I would expect you to do the same.
If you want to make time to discuss things, you let me know when you are ready.
So, I left it at that. Two days later, I asked if we were cool yet. Apparently not. She dismissed the letter as obvious, ridiculous, etc. Oh, the irony.
So, for now, I'm cool corresponding in my own home with somebody whom I live with, via paper. I know where I stand.
Man, it would be nice to hear just one sincere apology though.