Perfect sister was an illusion: She is too immature to look up to
Dear Annie: I had always held my sister in high regard, and I loved her. She was my big sis, and I felt she loved and cared for me.
But things have happened to cause me to change my mind. About six years ago on Christmas night, my grown niece and nephew, along with their friends, were sitting at the dinner table looking through my sister’s family photo album. Loud laughter erupted from the table. I ran over because I thought I was missing out on a fun picture. The picture was of me taken 30 years earlier. I was on the bed with my little niece and nephew. I had my PJ shorts on, playing with the kids. What was funny to everyone was that my genitals were clearly displayed because the leg of my shorts gapped open.
Instead of my sister telling me to fix my shorts, she took a picture and then put it in her family photo album. Everyone laughed and laughed. I was so mortified and embarrassed. I felt like disappearing.
Later that night, my sister apologized, saying she was just randomly taking pictures that day. What does that have to do with the fact that she put a disgusting, degrading picture of me in her album? It was clearly easy to see the photo was inappropriate and should have been thrown away.
Recently, she went off when she found out I was voting for a certain candidate for political office. She went on a rabid rant and went nuts. Despite this, I spent the day with her, hoping things would improve, but they did not.
Later in the evening, she continued to bully me via text. She used personal information I had given her about how the new chemo medication I was taking made me feel. For some dumb reason, I thought that by sharing this information with her, she could help me cope. She made fun of me, mocked me and laughed at me.
I have decided that my wonderful, kind, loving sister was a person who I created in my mind; this person does not exist.
I’ve been trying for 20 years to get back a picture of my grandmother that I gave her because she said the photo would be “safe with her.” Every time I ask for the picture, she blows smoke up my behind and gives me some stupid excuse. I even told her I would have copies made so everyone in the family could have a picture of Grammy. She will not give me back the picture.
Putting all of this together in my mind, along with other questionable things she has done, I’ve decided to cancel her from my life. My sister no longer exists; she was made up in my mind anyway, so that person has never really existed.
I don’t think I’m wrong to dump this person from my life, but I would like to hear what you think. – Coping With Toxic Sister
Dear Sister: She might be your big sis, but she is way too immature to look up to. In fact, rather than cutting her off altogether, I’d suggest telling her to grow up. Tell her that she must give you that photo so you can destroy it, and she must give you the picture of Grammy. If she refuses either, then let her know that the person you thought she was no longer exists. Explain that she was trying to shame you publicly with the photo and privately by mocking your chemo news, which is appalling.
As for politics, far too many people are intolerant of other viewpoints these days, and it is a sign of immaturity, among other things. You are entitled to your opinions, and she is entitled to hers. No amount of bullying can change that.
Dear Annie: My wife, “Jill,” and I have been married for seven years, together for nine. When we first met, my wife’s daughter, husband and children lived with her, and I lived in another city with my two sons who are mentally challenged. We dated for two years and finally married on Sept. 4, 2015. We married because of our faith, and I still lived with my sons for two years because her daughter and family still lived with her.
Her daughter finally moved, but because of a problem with another family member, she moved several states away. Jill owns the house. Now she feels that she needs to see them every three months. Every time she goes, it seems to be for longer periods of time. It started out at five days, a time she first suggested, and has moved to 11-plus days because her daughter wanted to spend more time with her. I told her that I have a hard time when she leaves and I am alone during this time. I am 72 and still working. She says she needs to see them and won’t consider talking about it because she’s going to see them anyway. It’s very draining on me both physically and mentally.
This wasn’t the marriage I was hoping for. She set us up to meet with a female counselor. They made me feel like I was selfish for my feelings. Am I? It seems like her daughter has the final say in what happens. I love my wife very much. I don’t know if I would have wanted to marry her if I had known this is where it was going to go. Maybe I am wrong for feeling this way, but I do. I haven’t had anyone I can talk to about this, and I guess I want to know if I am being selfish. Jill has it set in her mind that nothing is going to change and I have to learn to deal with it. I feel like I am a housesitter when she is gone. She tells me she will always return home. I don’t feel as confident. Am I wrong for feeling this way? – Confused and Hurt
Dear Confused and Hurt: You’re not wrong for missing your wife when she’s away for these extended periods of time. As her husband, I’d be worried if you didn’t.
If it’s feasible with your work schedule, why not tag along on a trip? Even if you can’t stay as long, a few days or a long weekend would give you face time with everyone. They’re your family, too, and you shouldn’t feel excluded or like you’re purely meant to keep an eye on the house while Jill is away.
Continue with the marital counseling, and continue to speak up. If you feel as if they are all ganging up on you, say so. If the counselor is dismissive of your needs, find a new one. I’d recommend you also find your own therapist to meet with one-on-one.
Dear Annie: I frequently see letters from people wanting more friends or a romantic interest. A suggestion I’ve not seen: subscribe to your local newspaper. It will have listings of events including free concerts at the park, volunteer activities, support groups, kids activities, senior events, gardening clubs and on and on. When I moved to my community, I subscribed for three months so I could get to know the town. I’m still getting it 18 years later!
Some years ago, I saw a listing for a monthly folk music singalong. The mandolin player and I will celebrate our eighth anniversary in September, and we were in our 60s. There’s hope for all, and there’s fun out there, too. – Finding Friends or Lovers
Dear Finding: What a sweet meet-cute for you and your beau, and a fabulous suggestion to those seeking companionship, love or maybe a new hobby. Newspapers hold a wealth of information and, as you’ve mentioned, the ins and outs that make up a community. I hope other readers will check out what their local papers have to offer as we head into the summer season.