Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Guilt Trip 101

This was sent to Aunt B via email...

Dear Aunt B.

I have a problem with my sister. Recently, I found out from my mother that she (my sister) was saying that I was lazy and that she is never paying for my airline ticket again to visit. Now, I was on a visit at this last Christmas with my sister in which she paid for my airline ticket. It was a family reunion.

She seems to think that I should have been more helpful in lending a hand in cleaning up etc. As I recall, I did do some dishes and sweep as it was only a 1 week visit. I don't know why she would say this to my mother but I think it has to be something else. My other sister was also visiting at the same time.

A little background, she and I were never close growing up and she was more closer to my other sister and they were pals and still are.

She never showed me a kind face when I visited her and when I did speak to her about anything she seemed to not be interested in what I had to say or pay any attention to my even speaking. She seemed to smile and pay attention to everyone else speaking to her except for me. She seemed very snobby to me.

To me, she seems to be a workaholic as she never seems to sit still and is always doing something.

She recently told my mother that I was lazy and she is never paying for my airline ticket again(which she has been doing for many years without me asking her to do so).

The problem is she has really hurt my feelings and I feel betrayed by her saying that I am lazy. I don't think I am a lazy person and I have a handicapped child that I have had to take care of and I have been through my own personal hell in raising him but I love him regardless.

I feel like I have been stabbed in the back by her and I am so upset with her that I feel like calling her and telling her off but because my mother asked me not to say anything I am not sure what I should do. My mother babysits for her and cleans her homes you see so I would put my mother in a bad position if I said anything to my sister. I am just so upset and hurt by this and the cold behavior she had shown to me at Christmas time.

I have a feeling she is just jealous of when my other sister and I are together and share jokes and enjoy each other's company. That is what I feel is behind her nasty remark made to my mother behind my back, just jealousy.

There seems to be a competition from her to have my sister's attention etc.

Should I just swallow this feeling and try to get over it or should I say something to my other sister about my feelings (the one that I get along with) and have her pass on this information to the snobby sister which I am sure she would do since they are very pals.

Would it not be in my best interest to say anything at all to anyone and just not ever visit her anymore. I will miss seeing my 2 nieces that I love ...because of this problem.

I feel she apparently hates me maybe because of the attention my other sister gives me.

I don't know what to do about this but every day that passes I get more pissed off and hurt.

Please help me in finding a resolution to my hurt feelings about this matter.

Thank you kindly.


Dear Janet,

First, let me validate your feelings by telling you that I would be upset too. I think her comment was designed to be kept secret but designed to make you look bad and her good. It was an attempt to make her look like the Golden Child, the Hard Worker, the best of the best. But we see through it, now don't we?

I imagine if I'd flown somewhere, even at a family members house, I would view it, as somewhat of a vacation and I was not brought there to work? Helping out is one thing. Drying the dishes or something to that effect, is one thing but is it possible she thought you were supposed to run the vacuum, then, shampoo the carpets?

I don't know, the whole story here but I take care of my Autistic nephew and it is beyond taxing. I love him dearly but he is six years old and I am 48. You can bet your bum that I fall out at night after chasing after him, wrestling and cleaning up after him. So, if I were invited somewhere, I'd be searching for a break and I would think it would be with family. You would think they'd see this but truly, your one sister has aspired to miss the true meaning of life. Let me explain...

Some people, measure themselves by how hard they work. Some measure themselves by how hard they work at getting out of work. Neither are healthy. My own Mother was, note the word, "WAS," one of those work till your fingers bleed, kinda gals. She instilled in me, a similar unhealthy outlook and I have worked myself sick. While it is good to have a good work ethic, keep a tidy home and not be a pig, it is soooooo unhealthy to think this is the benchmark of who you are. I think that is what your Sister would like to be. She goes around, "Hey everybody, look at me, I work harder than anybody else." Excuse me, I have to go throw up. Be right!

It is actually sad, this whole state of affairs. But I've seen it countless times, hell, I grew up in a similar situation. Old school dictates, that it's a complete embarrassment, a faux paus, for everything, not be neat and tidy, dishes done, everything put away, laundry done and folded. The yard must be mowed to perfection, shrubs and hedges clipped, house painted, car washed. Take little Matilda to piano lessons, take Johnny to soccer practice, Chelsea has to go to Ballet. The and the dog needs walked and we must make sure the garbage is put out on the curb at exactly sun down and not before and pick up any debris that has flown into your yard, my God, what would the Jones' say about all this? We have to do this and get a better car because what would the Jones' tell the Smiths? The truth of the matter is... those families don't talk, their kids are mixed up and pretty soon, Mr. Jones is going to have a heart attack because he works himself into the ground. But when they do his Eulogy, they'll be sure to mention that he worked hard all his life and had the tidiest yard in the neighborhood. They won't mention that Mrs. Jones was having an affair because she craved the love her husband used to give her, when they first met, before his priorities, were not to work all the time. I could go on and on but I think you get the picture? I have the feeling that your sister was looking for fault and that is what she pulled out of her rear axle. I don't think it's the true issue here, your lack of helping, with the cleaning during a visit. So, what is the true nature of her beef?

As I said, my own Mom was like that. She was constant and always working, never stopping to smell the roses, much less make time for family. I don't know if it was my letter to her that changed that. I'd like to think it was but I pointed out that I had figured out the secrets to life;
Love, Laughter and Family. If we allow all the other things to stand in the way of what is important, we are not living right. Have dinner with family and let the dishes sit, they can wait. Take that precious time, to find out how your family is and enjoy their company. If my kids came to visit me or my family, I'd only do the dishes that I needed to do. Thank goodness for the dishwasher. I'd have cleaned before they came and only do what was absolutely necessary. I sure as hell wouldn't expect them, to do or start cleaning. I would treat them like company, like royalty because I value them just like royalty. I'm not wasting valuable time on doing housework. I don't care if I've got to step over shit, to get to them, that's what I will do to spend that time with them and them alone. I am not encouraging filth, I am encouraging priorities.

Life is Too Short

"Life is too short for the dumb shit." I know this is crude but it is my saying. I think you understand this concept, however, your sister does not. So how can we help her understand? We also don't want to betray Mom's confidence. I find it hard to swallow, first off, a woman who throws her opinion out there, like she is all that but has her own mother clean her home and watch her children. That speaks to me, big time. It tells me that she is hypocritical and she certainly has a self-esteem issue. She wants to make you look bad, so she looks better. By buying your ticket all this time, she looks like the Queen of Turd Island and you will pay homage to the Queen. I am not trying to piss you off but to give you back your power. You may not be in the position to pay for these tickets, so you may visit? If you can afford it, stop allowing her to pay for it. It makes her feel superior and I don't think she's been doing it out of the kindness of her heart. If you can take that away from her, do it.

As I said, life is too short and your sister does not realize this. We need to give her a big fat dose of perspective. I realize that you are angry and would love nothing more, than to tear into her, in fact, I'd be willing to bet, you are grinding your teeth on this one. I would be. But we want things to work, not make it worse and we want to win. So, let me introduce you to my class;
Guilt Trip 101

I am a huge fan of letter writing. If you've read any of my other posts, almost every answer has something to do with writing a letter. There's a reason for this. When someone reads a letter, you have captured their attention, uninterrupted by rebuttal. Your feelings are laid out, well planned and choreographed, carefully worded. When you confront someone in person, especially in a scenario, such as this, the stakes are kind of high. If they don't have complete composure, they tend to put up a wall and they really don't hear you. They may take a defensive stance and never hear a word you say. In turn, you may not say what needs to be said or speak from the heart because your own anger may cloud the real issues. Finally, confrontation out of anger, is rarely a fix all. It usually makes things worse. You'll be hard pressed to put a sister in place who has all the components of an egotist with a flip side of low self-esteem. Go figure?
We want to make an impact, make her think, make a change, huh? There's really only one way to do this...guilt trip. I know, it's down and dirty, it's underhanded, it's just what we have to do.

The Letter

You start the letter by pointing out, that you love your Sister, immensely. You tell her that, for whatever reason, you are aware that your relationship is strained and you do not understand why? You tell her that life is too short and if something were to happen to her tomorrow, it would be regrettable if you, knowing what you know, didn't try to make it better. You tell her that if there was something in your past, that you did to her, that hurt her, you want to apologize. You say, that you would appreciate it, if you both, for the sake of family, could wipe the slates clean, (notice I said, "SLATES" in plural). You tell her, that it does not sit well with you, for a sister that you love, dearly, to dislike you so much and it actually hurts. You say that you do not know what is is that makes her feel as she does about you but you can feel the distance and it hurts. You tell her that, you feel that she probably loves you but, you can tell that she does not "like you." You'd like to change that because you only get one family and they'll never be another sister like her. God forbid, if she were to leave this earth tomorrow, you'd want her to know that she was loved. You point out that you two are different, with different lives and interests but once again, life is too short to miss the opportunity to tell someone that you care, that you want your relationship to be good and you want to enjoy each other's company, when you visit. You then mention, the fact that you could feel something wasn't right and it hasn't been right for TOO LONG. You then say, that you do not want to go any longer with things as they are. Finally, you ask her, "What can we do to fix this, to heal the situation?"

If you have hurt her, you may not be aware of it. But I have the feeling that she's just been pious. Still, all of this will make her think, really what is her problem with you. You have not handed her the whole plate, only that if you hurt her and this is why she has behaved as she has, then let's fix it. You have now deferred and projected onto her, that for the sake of the family, she should try to fix this. Life is far too short for games and wasted time. Family is for love and laughter and without it, life truly sucks. I hope you can work this out.

This comment was sent to Aunt B. It is from the author of the original question. I have answered her comment. Please read...

Dear Aunt B.

Thank you for your advice on the problem with my sister and her calling me Lazy.

I knew there had to be more to that Lazy comment directed towards me..... and your information on how past hurts that I have done to her is right on the money.

I was a young teen and I used to call her fat and chubby and make fun of her all the time and later I used to secretly tell my other sister (the one I got along with) that she was so cold like a least I think it was a secret....maybe not so secret after all.......I think I did that mostly because I didn't like the snobby way she used to treat me even then as a kid. I guess in a way I was trying to make her like me like she liked my other sister.

I know that calling anyone a name is wrong and hurtful and it comes back to bite you one day. Kids do and say cruel things to each other and I am guilty of hurting her in the past with the fat jokes. I can't believe how cruel as a child I could be to her and dare I say it, Mean to her. On another note, my other sister made fun of her fat too.

But I guess she is getting me back now...especially since she is rich now and i am not....she is slim and I am the chubby one now.

She has everyone in my family under her control with her money and the free trips and cruises she can offer them....and for a while me also. I looked at the free tickets as her love for me and her caring about me...but little did I was just to show me how rich and powerful she is and all the houses she has and Rolexes and diamonds.....and cars....literally rub my nose in it.

You have opened up my eyes as to the possible real reason by her attitude and treatment towards me.

And yes I will try to write her the guilt trip letter but I am not sure what I will say without letting the cat out of the bag that our mother mentioned the Lazy comment to me....I am still pissed off with her though.

I will try to do my best in depleting my anger ....and instead.....expressing my love for her and tell her how sorry I am for hurting her in the past and let's clear Slates as you say for family's sake. I think I am finding it hard to think I could write a letter to her and express my feelings to someone who is so cold and to me could care less. I fear her rejection and belittlement of me if I were to tell her sorry for past hurts that i have caused her. I feel this would empower her more over treat me bad...or to make her look even better than me.

It also seems to me that by appearing as she does to be cold that she is protecting herself from being ruled by emotions which could make her appear weak and break down her "I am perfect and in control of everything and everyone facade."

I do feel sorry for her that she lives with an abusive husband who controls her every move by the way...i don't think i mentioned that part...he is a rich well to do Doctor...not all doctors are Gods, this one is a total asshole...and i am not the only one that thinks so...believe me.

But she loves the power that all the money can buy and do...especially when it comes to her family. She loves to flash her diamonds and her expensive Rolex watches to family...and her many homes.

I guess that makes up for the abuse she takes from her husband and yes he is also critical of her weight if she gains even more than 5 lbs. He is a pig.....but that is another story.

I hope I don't seem like I am still the kid calling names....I have had my share of abuse from her husband too. Our entire family has in fact...with money as the weapon to hold over us and keep you us down in the dungeon as they stomp on you and throw you a bone every now and then to let you know much they really do care for you.

My mother told me it is just an act she does to disguise her unhappiness.

I will let you know Aunt B if I do get up the guts to write that letter and what I said and the outcome if any.

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom, I really do appreciate it. You are very smart and all knowing, my hats off to you :-).

We have both grown from this, can you see that? I am always learning from what I read and how people perceive things, how they take their bumps and lumps and the interchangeable way people choose to look at things. I think you have a good attitude and one which is reasonable. I don’t think you are wrong in the least bit for feeling the way you do, about all of this. I think most would agree with you and it is perceptive that you see through your sister’s facade.

I agree with you, I don’t think she’s trying to buy your love but maybe buying your respect. Of course, she’s going about it, in all the wrong ways. Money doesn’t buy everything, huh? Although, it can be a temporary fix and I’d rather cry in a Lexus than a Volkswagen, with an Ann Taylor suit, Rolex and Prada handbag, it sure don’t get ya no happiness. Nope, happiness resides in the heart, not in what we own. But for us real folks, she knows that she can hit the hardest, by trying to make us look up to her and her money. What’s the best way to do that? By holding it over our heads and being the answer to our problems, financially. You have to pity that mentality and I’m not sure if I’d want to trade places with her. Having said that, I want you to realize that I would rather be you, the one who has empathy, knows laughter, is genuine and knows the difference. Be proud of who you are and the fact that you are trying to better yourself. Be proud of the fact, that you can look in the mirror and see the truth. But let me take you one more step…

I don’t know how Spiritual, you are but I do believe that there is a Higher Power and we will one day answer for our lives, our behavior. How we play the game is important, how we treat others, is even more important. But all in all, we must be true to ourselves, right?

Anger kills. It can keep a good man down and make a strong woman crumble. Staying angry about something, a situation like this, well, you are the one suffering more than anyone else. I’d like to see you get past your anger and your own pain. I also realize that you have dealt with this pain, most of your life, huh? Get your power back. Right now, I hate to say but you’ve handed it, your power, to your sister and she’s playing with it like a stress ball; squeezing it, squashing it, throwing it against the wall. Don’t think that I am telling you anything other than, what I’ve had to realize on my own, what I have had to come to grips with. You are no less or weaker than me, we just hadn’t seen the whole shebang. It’s time for you to take it back.

Write that letter and use some of the phrases or the way I have worded a few things. They are chock full of reason. Your apology, the way I worded it, is empowering, yet you are not bearing the “all” of it. Re-read what I asked you to say, in the letter. It is actually, a carefully orchestrated piece. Try to use it to your advantage. By writing her this letter, you have tried to do your part, to make this better. Not only that, you have now, dumped, it in her lap, the deferred responsibility, of trying to make this work.

When it comes down to it, what I want for you is to get back your power. My feeling is that, your sister may be stuck in her stuck-up world. You may make her aware of your intent, your feelings and your desire for things to be or get better. But the reality of this is that, it may be no more than a quick fix. I hope it is groundbreaking. In the event that it is not, I would still love for you to see yourself, in a whole new light.

You get more bees with honey, than vinegar, right? You smile, hold your head up and know that you are a better person for trying to make this better. See, the objective here, is that you will be able to live your life, with one less handicap. This handicap is just as real as your child’s; you just can’t see it as easily.

I have Intuition, we’ll say. I can see that you are such a good and caring person. You are not a pushover and you have the ability to see things, others do not see. You have empathy and compassion. You do not go out of your way to hurt others or to step on their toes. You mind your own business and you are a loyal friend but private. You are so disgusted by your sister’s jealous behavior, not to mention her snooty persuasion. You are better than this. You are a much better person and as you can see, she is not better off because she has money. She’s a bitter person. Do not emulate her. Do not wish you had what she has. The truth of the matter is this; you are the richest of the sisters. You have what she does not; Heart. Some people will never know the secrets to life but you do. Do not let her take you down, not one more day. Take that burr out of your saddle by writing the letter. Then, throw on your cowgirl hat and ride high in that saddle.

No comments: