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My sister has become a very difficult person to deal with. Over the last year she has developed some very resentful feelings towards me. I think she used to consider herself someone who had her life together, had a well-paying job, an active social life, travelled a lot, and felt a sense of purpose and independence. She suddenly ended up getting fired from her job (which I later found out was due to her boss finding her impossible to deal with), then the pandemic hit, and she was out of work, wasn't able to travel or socialize much, and had to ask my parents for help financially. She was knocked off her feet.

I have always had jobs where I did not make as much money as her, but decided to go back to school and finish my degree. During the pandemic, I didn't have to rely on my parents for financial support like she did because I have been living on student loans, learned how to drive, and generally have kept my life together as best I can. I've been very successful in school, recommended for scholarships, and have been praised by my parents for doing well, despite these challenging times we are living in.

I think my sister started to become very jealous and resentful of this, as she was used to feeling like the successful one in the family. She started becoming very passive aggressive with me, finding any excuse she could to make judgmental comments, and started comparing everything she was doing to what she perceived me to be doing. For example, since she didn't have a job and was relying on my parents financially, she would go over to their house and cook, clean, help them with things. She started to get really resentful of that, and started complaining to my parents that she did so much more for the family, and that I wasn't as helpful. I spend a lot of my time with my family when I am not busy with school, and help with things, but because I have more obligations, it is true that I am not over as much as her and doing as much stuff. She started trying to convince my parents that she cared more, and saying really negative things about me.

I think all this resentment comes from her feeling unhappy and inferior, and I think she compares herself to me and wants my parents to see her as valuable, but it is becoming really toxic. She picks fights over nothing, starts giving me the silent treatment for no reason when I come over, lashes out and gets really angry, and starts trying to bully me into leaving when I have come over to spend time with the family so that she can be the center of attention and not have to share my parents with me. She needs a lot of attention, and gets really angry when my parents are asking me about school or give me any attention. It's getting to the point where she is so difficult to be around that I just can't take it anymore. I have tried talking to her about it and doing nice things for her to show her that I care, and that she does not have to see me as a threat, but she just stonewalls me, gets really defensive, lashes out, and is so impossible to deal with. It's creating so much tension in the family, and puts my parents in a very awkward position. I am at a loss for what to do. This has been ongoing for a good chunk of this year, and it seems to be just getting worse and worse.

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7 hours ago, Eliza84 said:

I have tried talking to her about it and doing nice things for her to show her that I care, and that she does not have to see me as a threat, but she just stonewalls me, gets really defensive, lashes out, and is so impossible to deal with.

Unfortunately I don't think you can, "help," her stop this behavior by trying to talk with her about it.  She'll just twist your words and it may create more drama.

I like Wiseman's advice of staying in your own lane... just ignore her, live your own life and try not to be bothered by her.  She sounds extremely insecure in herself, and the more successful you are, the more she'll resent you, better to just break away and have a distantly peaceful relationship.

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10 hours ago, Eliza84 said:

I think all this resentment comes from her feeling unhappy and inferior, and I think she compares herself to me and wants my parents to see her as valuable, but it is becoming really toxic. She picks fights over nothing, starts giving me the silent treatment for no reason when I come over, lashes out and gets really angry, and starts trying to bully me into leaving when I have come over to spend time with the family so that she can be the center of attention and not have to share my parents with me.

Do your parents not speak up at all? I'm sure they see this...

Can you not go by & visit at times you know she is not there?

Yeah, don't bother 'trying to please'.  Obviously her resentment over rules, no matter what 😕 .

She is draining your energy, right?

Just don't feed into it.. She is doing this herself.. You just maintain your cool.

 

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This is simple - don't compete with her. Just let her be. If she needs that attention and support from family, let her have it. You have your own obligations and commitments so tend to your own. You're self-sufficient and doing well so keep it that way. Manage your affairs and maintain your boundaries. 

If she approaches you at your parents' house while you're over don't engage. Keep it light and don't get into her personal issues or ask her too much about how she's doing. Despite apparently needing that support from family around her, she's not able to engage with others adequately for whatever personal reasons. Just know when to touch and go and remain self-sufficient also mentally/emotionally. Learn to shrug this off and leave the issues when you leave the house. Don't bring it back to your own home. 

If you need time and space away from your parents, take a few weekends to yourself. Keep in touch by other means and stay in touch with your own affairs.

I have outlets personally that I engage when I need to take my mind off of things. You may have them too. When I'm pursuing what interests me I refocus and recharge. Find ways to recharge.

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Even though your situation differs from mine, I'm always walking on eggshells around my sister, too.  Fortunately, we only see each other for holiday meals (holiday parties with family and extended family) and occasional family reunions at restaurants several times a year.

I'm uncomfortable around her because she's jealous of me even though she lives in a 5,000 square foot house in a very affluent local community.  She's jealous because her husband is obnoxiously rude towards her, their 3 children and incredibly rude towards others, too.  In other words, he's a huge shameful embarrassment.  She always has to either do damage control or pretend no one heard his inappropriate comments.  He humiliates her and others all the time.  This is the norm.  Even though they have a lot of money, she lets the world know how great her life is.  Well, not so fast.  The part that she always conveniently hides is the fact that her husband is not a moral man.  His character is so bad that my husband, sons and I don't want to be with him anymore.  COVID-19 was the best thing that ever happened to us.  We had legitimate excuses NOT to gather for family reunions.  

With the pandemic waning, my enforced boundaries are stronger than ever.  This is how you should be.  Concentrate on your studies, don't visit your parents frequently and if your sister is passive aggressive, then you become passive aggressive, too.  Don't engage, learn to walk away, learn to ignore yet remain polite and well mannered.  I'm this way with a lot of people whom I don't like.  I'm very polite yet I deliberately maintain a frosty and respectfully well mannered distance.  With practice, this tactic and strategy becomes effortless. 

Become emotionless.  Emotions cloud your judgment and behavior.  Once you remove your emotions, you'll become more businesslike, numb yet peaceful.  Keep the peace while giving yourself lots of space. 

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20 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

What is toxic is this degree of sibling rivalry carrying on into adulthood.

Distance yourself and stay in your own lane.

Agreed, it's very unhealthy. I hate when I become an unwilling participant in other's petty issues. I would much rather not engage with it.

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18 hours ago, Seraphim said:

Your parents need to put her in her place. Invite your parents over to your place instead of going there. 

Yes, they do. Unfortunately they seem to just give in to her demands most of the time, and try to appease her. I think it's because they don't want to deal with her hostility and she will direct it at them if they don't give her what she wants. She's learned how to control them. I wish they would call her out on her bad behaviour.

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17 hours ago, maritalbliss86 said:

Unfortunately I don't think you can, "help," her stop this behavior by trying to talk with her about it.  She'll just twist your words and it may create more drama.

That's exactly what she does when I've tried to reason with her. It's just this endless cycle. I've come to the conclusion that unless she gets to a place where she realizes that she needs to work on her issues, it will be impossible to fix the relationship. My parents keep telling me I just need to apologize to her for anything that she might be upset about, but she's constantly picking fights over nothing. I've been more than fair to her, and have already tried the whole "I'm sorry for anything I've done that may have upset you and caused you to feel resentful towards me" thing...but I really don't feel like I have anything to apologize for. I've more just tried to do it to smooth things over, but she just keeps picking fights...if it's not one thing, it's another. It will just keep continuing, and my apologies and kind gestures towards her will never be enough. I am tired of my parents trying to get me to be the one to fix things, when it's her that needs to be the one to change. There isn't much I can do until she is ready to work on herself...and she may never do that.

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14 hours ago, SooSad33 said:

Do your parents not speak up at all? I'm sure they see this...

They have tried to talk to her, but they never do it in a way that really calls her out on her inappropriate behaviour. They just say things like "why don't you and your sister just try to get along?" What they really need to do is stop enabling her. I can understand them not wanting to get involved, or not wanting my sister's anger to be directed towards them (and if they challenge her on her behaviour that's exactly what will happen). She's so angry and hostile that they fear her emotional reactivity. It's a frustrating situation.

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12 hours ago, Rose Mosse said:

This is simple - don't compete with her. Just let her be.

Yes, I have no desire to compete with her. I am not a competitive person, I find the idea of that really off-putting and stressful. I feel secure with myself, know that I am a kind person, and that I am helpful to my family. She tries to convince my parents otherwise, but I am not going to engage in petty sibling rivalry to try and prove myself.

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6 hours ago, Cherylyn said:

Become emotionless.  Emotions cloud your judgment and behavior.  Once you remove your emotions, you'll become more businesslike, numb yet peaceful.  Keep the peace while giving yourself lots of space. 

Yes, it's gotten to the point where she's just pushed and pushed me. I've lost my temper at her a few times recently because she's just unrelenting. It doesn't feel good to lose it, and I've regretted snapping at her and telling her it's enough, because it's just more for her to use as leverage against me...but I've hit a breaking point with her. I'm just so frustrated, because I have tried to be the bigger person for so long, and I am just sick of her treating me badly, and sick of my parents thinking that I need to be the one to somehow solve this when it's her that needs to figure out how to deal with her emotions with grace and dignity.

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1 hour ago, Eliza84 said:

 I become an unwilling participant .

If you are engaging in it, you are a willing participant.

Keep the focus on you, not your hatred and jealousy.

Improve your life. That way whatever anyone else is doing won't upset you this much.

Delete and block her and all her people from ALL your social media and messaging apps. Only interact if you have to be at a family function and just be civil.

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6 hours ago, Eliza84 said:

They have tried to talk to her, but they never do it in a way that really calls her out on her inappropriate behaviour. They just say things like "why don't you and your sister just try to get along?"

Yeah - that never does an good 😕 

Something in her has exploded.. sadly... a huge ball of negativeness at you?

Obviously, your parents are either lost on how to handle this, or just sad about things... But, her behaviour is not normal, right?

I would have it out w/ my kids.. that either you be kind around here, or don't be here!

Can you remain away if she is there, go by when you know she isn't?

 

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6 hours ago, Eliza84 said:

I am tired of my parents trying to get me to be the one to fix things, when it's her that needs to be the one to change.

It's normal unfortunately.  I love this lady's advice from here... but in short, this is what she says:

"Desperate parents tend to side with difficult children over their more easy-going kids."

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16 minutes ago, maritalbliss86 said:

"Desperate parents tend to side with difficult children over their more easy-going kids."

Yes.  It is the negativity needing to change - and yes, people are well aware of their own behaviour 😕 .

Note on what you said 'Desperate' parents... it's all sad, really.. I have a challenging one too, here.

His negativity shows on occassion... but most often on one (me).

SHE vent on her sister though (OP)... not at the parents.. so, this is so sad.. miserable to be around.

OP, maybe your parents can suggest your sister seek some prof help?   Just to let her know they are concerned..

But yeah, if possible, don't respond to her 'moods' with you.  Some people will go for anything - even happy when they get attention with their 'negative' behaviour.

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15 minutes ago, SooSad33 said:

SHE vent on her sister though (OP)... not at the parents.. so, this is so sad.. miserable to be around.

I think she did say if the parents try calling her out, she lashes out in anger at them and that scares them:

7 hours ago, Eliza84 said:

I can understand them not wanting to get involved, or not wanting my sister's anger to be directed towards them (and if they challenge her on her behaviour that's exactly what will happen). She's so angry and hostile that they fear her emotional reactivity. It's a frustrating situation.

 

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7 hours ago, Eliza84 said:

I've lost my temper at her a few times recently because she's just unrelenting. It doesn't feel good to lose it, and I've regretted snapping at her and telling her it's enough, because it's just more for her to use as leverage against me...but I've hit a breaking point with her. I'm just so frustrated, because I have tried to be the bigger person for so long, and I am just sick of her treating me badly, and sick of my parents thinking that I need to be the one to somehow solve this when it's her that needs to figure out how to deal with her emotions with grace and dignity.

I think the best option is just to think of her as, "not your kind of person," and stop dealing with her.  Stop responding to anything she sends... block her texts/emails/phone calls.  And then tell your parents you want a relationship with them, but you're drawing a boundary line and you don't want a relationship with her right now, until (or if ever) she gets real about her problems she causes.

And then just proceed to do life without her.  That may mean seeing your parents less.  But maybe you can arrange to have time with them alone, have them over for dinner at your house, etc.  

 

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9 hours ago, Wiseman2 said:

If you are engaging in it, you are a willing participant.

Keep the focus on you, not your hatred and jealousy.

Improve your life. That way whatever anyone else is doing won't upset you this much.

Delete and block her and all her people from ALL your social media and messaging apps. Only interact if you have to be at a family function and just be civil.

I have to admit, I am a bit confused by your comment. I have no hatred and jealousy towards my sister...but she seems to have those issues with me. I am focused on school and my own life, and don't have the same insecurities and resentments that my sister does.

I also think there is a difference between engaging and reacting. I think of engaging with it as going into it trying to win, creating my own drama in retaliation, trying to compete with her, get my parents to favour me etc. I am more just trying to figure out how to diffuse things.

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4 hours ago, SooSad33 said:

Can you remain away if she is there, go by when you know she isn't?

 

 

Yes, I told my parents that I think we should have separate visits since my sister always tries to start things and engages in bad behaviour when I am around, and I don't want my parents to be caught in the middle, or for me to have to feel constantly on edge when we get together.

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4 hours ago, maritalbliss86 said:

"Desperate parents tend to side with difficult children over their more easy-going kids."

Yes, that does seem to be the dynamic. I think they know that it is easier for me to have the more mature, rational responses to things, and I am easier to deal with so they just put the responsibility on me. She is so difficult that it's easier for them this way, but it isn't actually helping my sister learn how to behave differently...it just perpetuates this dysfunctional cycle. I am at the point where I want to tell them that it is not my responsibility to try and fix things all the time, and that I no longer want to be the one who has to cater to my sister's needs. That until she gets therapy and gets to a place where she is ready to work on herself and take accountability, I am done.

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3 hours ago, maritalbliss86 said:

 tell your parents you want a relationship with them, but you're drawing a boundary line and you don't want a relationship with her right now, until (or if ever) she gets real about her problems she causes.

Yes, I agree, I am sick of being caught in this dysfunctional cycle of her lashing out and then all of us having to dance around her feelings and walk on eggshells, cater to her needs etc. I know they do it because it's just too stressful for them to try and challenge her. The only way things will get better is when my sister takes some accountability and is able to self-reflect and work on her issues. I don't know if she will ever get to the place of realizing that she needs to do that though...her default is to shame and blame others so that she doesn't have to hold herself accountable or own up to her issues.

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50 minutes ago, Eliza84 said:

I don't know if she will ever get to the place of realizing that she needs to do that though...her default is to shame and blame others so that she doesn't have to hold herself accountable or own up to her issues.

Probably not 😕 don't be surprised if they turn this around on you and literally say that you're not willing to own up to your issues or change your ways.  It's a strange kind of gaslighting, but that's also normal.

 

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