The sadness and loneliness of the emotionally unresponsive family

Much as I try to put a positive slant on my sister ignoring me all the time, I drove to my walk with Jasper today with a real hole in my heart full of emptiness and longing and its what I feel with my sister all the time now. After Mum died I thought it may bring us closer. She always promised Mum she would look out for me but I can count on two hands the number of times she has called me since Mum’s death. I am trying to be as unselfish about this as I can. She has been medicated for a very long time and subjected to shock treatment and all kinds of other (what I see as psychiatric abuse) so her feelings go numb. I know she is a sensitive person who holds a lot inside because my father was like that but there was brick wall around him as well and Mum just was volatile emotionally explosive and emotionally discounting and unresponsive to my needs, just as her own mother was to hers.

It has taken me over 26 years of therapy to realise that this hole in my soul IS NOT MY FAULT. I cannot tell you how much I have blamed myself, but of course that is one of the legacies of childhood trauma we just think we are a major fuck up and I have shared this before too, when I first got into Alcoholics Anonymous at the age of 31 I learned I had defects of character. I would go to meetings and just cry at the stories, stories of those who felt themselves to be aliens, outcasts and exiles. I sought counselling then and it was recommended I go to Adult Child of Alcoholic Al Anon meetings. The counsellor in question, a Chris Roberts just pointed to box of tissues on his desk and said to me, “you wont find any of those in AA meetings.”

Turns our the legacy of trauma from separation, grief, loss and addiction could be traced back to Mum’s Great Grandfather in the late 1800’s and it took some years for a second cousin to reveal this information to me as Mum was happy to scapegoat me, saying I was the only one in our family with a problem, despite the fact two sisters suffer from bi polar disorder which goes along with a traumatic, addictive, repressed emotional background. She tried to deny the information from Nana’s niece for some years, but since her death, Julie and I have been in contact and have found we suffer from many of the same issues.

My sister keeps her distance from me. I see now that I am not going to reach out any more. Its hard to write this as it goes against the grain. I am not cutting her out of my life and WOULD NEVER DO THAT TO A FAMILY MEMBER but until she actually wants to show some care for me I am over being the one with the biggest heart who really reaches out. The wound is there and I have a big ulcer on my lower lip at the moment because that call to her on Tuesday just blindsided me and I can no longer go on being hurt the way I am. I know none of it appears to be intended although a few years ago she tried to tell one of my older sister’s boys that I was jealous of her and her life. When I confronted it, first she denied it, then she said “he had no right to tell you that” then her third response was “well I have just always felt that.” Wow, how can anyone lack that much empathy? As a child I was desperate for her to like me instead of ignoring me, hurting me and putting me down for being “too difficult.”

Anyway I don’t even feel good writing this as I don’t want to keep holding onto the hurt I feel. What good will it do me in the end? I keep scouring my conscience for something I may have done wrong to her. It could be that I was a bit hard on her after Mum died, as Mum left her unit to my sister, my sister needed my help to clean it out and was not showing much initiative at all. It was difficult so I said to her “Sue one day you will have to take care of this on your own.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth I felt terrible and then I realised how different our lives had been. My sister had a partner from the age of 21 and even though they are separated now, she knew a home and family which I did not, most especially after my father died in 1985. I have always just had myself apart from the years I was married and even then I found it hard to share time with my husband’s family. I see that at times I could be emotionally unavailable too, for God knows I am not perfect and don’t want to imply in this that my sister may not have very good reasons for giving me a wide birth. It just hurt to be told she would be swimming at the coast and I would love to go and then have this said to me “why don’t you just go off to the local swimming pool and have a swim!!!” It just hurt. Maybe I am being too sensitive. Maybe it is just my abandonment schema playing up.

Anyway for today I know the wounds I bore were not my fault. I know why I struggle to connect with high sensitivity and abandonment trauma and I know why my self esteem is sometimes so low. I also know I have to parent myself at this stage. I am an adult now and my inner child can still be in a lot of pain some days. I know her legacy of pain is real, and all I can do is own it and try to take the best care of myself that I can in this life from now on.

(Note : just after posting this I was tempted to revert it to draft. It probably isn’t my sister’s responsibility to take care of me and she struggles herself. I don’t want to seem like I am being full of self pity… I just really felt that burning wound today.)

6 thoughts on “The sadness and loneliness of the emotionally unresponsive family

  1. i wish i could say something healing…..but instead, please know… be able to come out on the other side and be able to write so beautifully about your life is a gift to others.

  2. I hope writing it has helped some way to release what your feeling. You have genuine feelings that you are feeling at the moment.

      1. That was nice timing as you say, having therapy.
        I am having down moments at odd times, as well as feeling odd fatigue, with all that has been happening this year. Surprisingly though, the fatigue has not affected me at work, when I did overtime yesterday. I felt great while there.
        I have overtime again today and tomorrow, so it will make it easier in March. X

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