Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Benchmark

This was sent to Aunt B via email...

Dear Aunt B,
I recently got married yet before the wedding came, I was pregnant. I
decided to tell NO one in my family about this- lest they tell others at the
wedding, or feel that it was a shotgun wedding (of which it was no such
thing- we have been together for 4 years). I didn't want that kind of
burden. So I chose to wait until the day after the wedding to tell my mom
and dad. Who in turn could tell whomever they pleased. I didn't want people
looking at me "that way" during the wedding. I kept small enough that no one
would notice.
2 Days before the wedding my sister went snooping through my bags while I
wasn't home and found prenatal vitamins. My mom the OB nurse has voiced her
concerns about a pregnancy to everyone but me- so maybe she felt justified
to go looking for proof? I did not know that she had suspicions. When I came
home that evening, she proceeded to tell me in front of 3-4 other people
that she "happened" to see these vitamins as she moved my bag and if I had
something to tell everyone. I denied it, as I still did not want anyone to
think I was pregnant before the wedding. I felt that due to her snooping and
confronting me, she had no right to know. I would NEVER confront someone
with that kind of information ESPECIALLY in front of others. I felt that was
SO wrong of her. She is very confrontational - at her work, to my parents,
her sisters, etc. and I always try to be the "bigger" sister and don't say
anything. I figured this was the end of the story because I felt I was clear
that NO, I wasn't pregnant, and NO, those vitamins were no grow my hair or
some such. I also told her that if she wanted to confront me about such an
issue in the future, I would appreciate it if she did it in private. She
hemmed and hawed and said we were private, that no one else could hear us-
but I felt her approach was totally wrong- and for once I stood up for
myself and said something about it. I thought that was the end.
Well, now it is one month past the wedding. I am starting to tell friends
that were at the wedding about my news. A friend called me who will be
visiting next month, and I told her I was pregnant. She said she already new
that I was pregnant. I said how? She said on my wedding night, my sister
asked if I had told her the good news. She said no- but asked if I was
pregnant . MY sister said yes! But she asked my friend a leading question-
what else could it be to ask if she knew special news the night of my
wedding. Then, she said my sister had had too much to drink and thats probably
why she said something. Please remember that the night before she asked me
if I were pregnant and I said NO. I obviously didn't want anyone to know,
especially once she had confronted me in such a rude way. My friend had
already left for home once I told my family- my mom and dad, rather- so
there would be no way for her confirm or deny such a thing. I believe she
was just trying to be nasty and make me look bad or spread rumor. I had told
no one yet- she still could not have known. And she should not have asked my
friend if I had told her the special news- when I hadn't even told my sister
Yesterday, I called her and told her what my friend had said she did. First
she apologized, then she denied it. Then she tried to turn it around and say
I was a bad sister for thinking she would do such a thing. She seems so
confrontational, so insincere that I really believe my friend that it
happened. There would be no motive for my friend to fabricate such a story!
Then she said she, in reality, was just really happy that we were having a
baby, etc. There is so much background to this story. But her boyfriend has
2 children- now he is her fiance- and she wanted him to disown the children
so she would not have to have any burden of raising them. She said she did
not like the way their mother and grandparents were raising them. She is
always nasty to my niece and nephew when they come over, same thing- she
says she doesn't like the way they are being raised. Then she will turn
around and try to be really nice. I should also say she has been diagnosed
bipolar- so none of this surprises me. I just don't believe her spreading my
"BIG"news around was her way of being happy for me. We had never discussed
it, not had I told her that I was expecting. I think she was trying to be
rotten. Now that she is known bipolar- she is SO confrontational, so moody,
so irrational and then tries to blame it all on her disorder. Some of it
yes- but I believe that she is taking a huge liberty here, and just uses her
disorder to blame her bad behavior on.
I hate confrontation. There are many times when people walk all over me
just because I don't want to confront them or cause conflict. I just felt
she had gone too far. She needed to be confronted so this would not happen
again, so she would know this was wrong to do to people and that third, I
did not like or appreciate her behavior.
Now I am the one who feels guilty. Did I ruin my relationship with my
sister? Did I ever even have a relationship? Are my parents going to take
her side when she runs crybaby to tell them how terrible I am? How mean, how
rude, etc. I believe in my heart that I did the right thing confronting her.
I waited 3 days before telling her I was upset- as not to do anything
irrational. I never raised my voice. I listened to her excuses on the phone.
When she apologized, I told her I forgave her. I told her I would never do
such a thing to her (and I never have). I even emailed her after the
conversation and told her I wanted our communications to be between us, not
through 3rd parties such as our mother. If we have issues with one another,
we should talk to each other- not 3rd parties and the grapevine. Then I
told her in the email that the case was closed, I forgave her and that I
loved her.
I am still upset or I wouldn't be writing this email. I feel like she will
make it awkward at family gatherings- she will make a point of not speaking
to me or have further confrontation. When I still will feel like she is the
one who brought this upon herself.
Any advice? Am I wrong? Mislead? Self centered?

Dear Stephanie,

I feel you on this. It actually pissed me off too and I had to sit and wonder what lil' sister's motives were?

Before I even, address this, I want to make a point. The saying "Forgive & Forget" does not mean, we allow people to walk all over us. I do think, even if we put it in Biblical terms, God is merciful and forgives us but that does not mean, we never have to suffer the consequences of our actions. Equally important, is the fact that your sister, can never really be truly sorry for what she has done, if she doesn't really understand, the ramifications of her trespass/transgression against you.

Little Sister behaved, in an extremely, immature way and it just screams jealousy, if you ask me. I think you still need to address this. Let me remind you, you must be true to yourself and use all the tools at your disposal. This is obviously still weighing upon you or you'd not have written me, right? So, in the context of being true to yourself, I think the subject is not over and you have every right to get it all out, put it into perspective for your sister and find closure, after you have made her more than aware, just how the cow jumps over the moon. Saying you forgive someone, is the easy part. It's working through that hurt and anger, that you rightfully own. I'd say, it's enough to piss off a preacher, what she did to you. I mean, we count on our sisters to share in our joy, not hinder it. Even the smallest detail, of the fact that she'd gone through your things, is a clear violation. We all have personal boundaries and she stepped on yours. We have to ask ourselves, just why would she want to tell, this little secret, for one thing? The second question is; Motive?

I for one, think, she wanted her butt to shine. It's so transparent that she wanted to make herself look good, while you look like the traditional, illegitimate carrying, do not wear white, bride. I think it was an evil move, unscrupulous and down right dirty. Now, I am not trying to piss you off even more, (Sorry, "pissed off" are the words of the day here?) but I do believe we need to handle this, in an *Assertive way.

I have been, in the past, considered Passive-Aggressive. Now, there are so many definitions of this and none are favorable. But my terminology for this particular behavior/life style or behavioral pattern, and what sums mine up, was this;
I would take it and take it. I would allow people, to do or say things, that I didn't like, for the most part because I was non confrontational. I would over look it or let it go. Then, all of a sudden, this person(s), does something, which I've allowed them to do, to get away with and I brew. I cloud up and rain all over them, making them believe I am truly psychotic. I am still guilty of this from time to time but my"episodes" are less frequent because I have become what I lovingly refer to as an "Assertive Bitch." I wear my favorite Bitch Belt.

See, there's a difference between showing self-control of your emotions and stuffing them. Some emotions, i.e., anger, hurt, pain and so on, can be rather damaging to us. In fact, they can eat us alive. If we do not communicate how we feel, little is resolved. Stress and anger can kill. If nothing else, they hold our human spirit, hostage. You need to free yourself from this.

I often write, that I feel one of the best forms of communicating, complex feelings and emotion, is through writing it all down. Write a letter to your sister.

In your letter, you need to state how she made you feel, what the ramifications were and the fact that the only way this can be resolved, is for her to understand what she has done. Make it clear, your intention is not to make her pay for the infraction but to understand it.

If you feel betrayed, write it. If it angered and frustrated you, write it. If it embarrassed you, write it. Whatever those feelings are, that you grapple with, hurt, pain, betrayal, (which by the way, I would feel every one listed) you write it in the letter.

It seemed a bit vindictive, if you ask me. I mean really, what Sister would go out of her way, which she clearly did, to make it so extremely visible that you were pregnant. She took it on like a mission. Now, You must take on the mission, of making your Sister, painfully aware of how bitterly she has behaved. Ask her why she is so bitter, towards you. Take full responsibility for anything, you may have done in the past, to have hurt her enough, for her to feel the need, to put you in your proverbial place.

It sounds to me, like your Sister has been allowed to run rampant and dish out the nastiness, unchecked and unbridled. She needs to know, it will never be tolerated again. If she wants to make amends, it will be through her own personal responsibilty and accountability for her crude, rude and socially unacceptable attitude. Yes, some of us, do walk around, self-absorbed, self-will run riot and until somebody calls us on our stinky crap, we just don't see how bad it smells. Yes, it stinks to high heaven and it should be your ulterior motive, not to hurt her, not to put her in her place but to make her aware of how she presents herself to others.

Finally, if you can't count on and trust your family, you've nothing. She must understand that of all people in the world, you'd think that you'd be the last, she'd want to hurt. But by her actions, your memory of your wedding has been tainted. Ask her if this was her wish? Tell her that she can deny it to your face but deep down, you know the truth. Then, you tell her that you love her. You never want to relinquish your relationship, as sister's. It all starts with love but respect is a must. She treated you with a complete lack of respect and her actions speak only of a vindictive and mean spirited scenario. Then, you tell her, if this was her motive, to hurt you, to show no respect, to betray you and to stain a memory, she was successful.

But you then point out to her, what she was not successful at;

She failed miserably as a stand-up woman, garnering any level of respect from you. She failed miserably at taking responsibility for her actions. She failed miserably at pretending to be a mature and a loving Sister. She failed miserably as a friend, which sisters should be.

Then, you ask her, if you'd done this to her and put her business on the street, would she be so easily or readily able, to forgive? And how can we resolve this because you do love her and you do not want this as the deciding factor, the benchmark for your relationship with her?

Aunt Babz

PS, Another her this entire correspondence.

*Assertiveness is a trait taught by many personal development experts and psychotherapists and the subject of many popular self-help books. It is linked to self-esteem and considered an important communication skill.

As a communication style and strategy, assertiveness is distinguished from aggression and passivity. How people deal with personal boundaries; their own and those of other people, helps to distinguish between these three concepts. Passive communicators do not defend their own personal boundaries and thus allow aggressive people to harm or otherwise unduly influence them. They are also typically not likely to risk trying to influence anyone else. Aggressive people do not respect the personal boundaries of others and thus are liable to harm others while trying to influence them. A person communicates assertively by not being afraid to speak his or her mind or trying to influence others, but doing so in a way that respects the personal boundaries of others. They are also willing to defend themselves against aggressive incursions.

Assertive people

Assertive people have the following characteristics:

  • They feel free to express their feelings, thoughts, and desires.
  • They know their rights.
  • They have control over their anger. It does not mean that they repress this feeling. It mean that they control it for a moment and then talk about it later in a logical way.
  • They have a good understanding of feelings of the person they are communicating with.

1 comment:

Xmichra said...

I think i would agree to some extent. But lets look at this another way before all the words go forward.

Not in total deffence. But really.. you lied. You bold faced lied in front of your sister and family when she did confront you (which i agree was the wrong way to go). But these people know and love you. You say that your mother (who is an RN and I would say damn good at her job for this reason alone) had speculated that you were pregnant. Maybe they were concerned for you. Or maybe they were pissed off that you wouldn't tell them.

I do not have a sister, but i have two brothers. That bond is not quite the same thing i would imagine. But if my brothers wife were pregnant before they got married.. and he didn't tell me fearing that i would spread it around?? I would be so very piseed off. That shows disrespect and distrust. Maybe you should look at that, because I am pretty sure that is what your sister will "run to mommy and daddy" with.

If your family has a habbit of doing those sorts of things... you are going to find that :
1- even though your secrets are your own, they will be mad for the distrust. even if it is 100% warranted.
2- that your sister will use that as a defencive strike, and you might find yourslef on the outs.
3- no matter what your sister does in her life, or the health problems that she has... you need to own your own behaviour. That includes standing up for yourself, and being honest with your reasoning.

I do happen to think that your sister violated your personal belongings. And i do think that you being pissed off at they way she confronted you was totally acceptable by you. I just thought.. that maybe there was a little more to the story, and if any of this rings true you might want to level out before you ride in with the rightous horse.