Apologising

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Oscen

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Apologising
« on: April 12, 2019, 08:41:54 AM »
Hi there, I'd love some thoughts on apologising about something you know you're in the wrong about, and genuinely feel ashamed of, to a member of your dysfunctional family who would probably never apologise to you despite having grounds to.

I treated my sister in a mean way when she came to stay with me a few years ago. In particular, I made fun of a hobby that she is really passionate about. It was very passive-aggressive of me. I also invalidated her a bit.

I don't want to deny that I was horrible to her, but it also wasn't a one-way street. She hadn't spoken to me for years before she came to stay - she only started communicating with me again when she decided to move to my city and wanted a place to stay. When she arrived, she was subtly invalidating. She's older than me, and I found that she talked down to me a lot and dismissed and invalidated my opinions; even in front of my boyfriend, she'd "explained" my attitudes to him, and got involved in discussions I was having with my BF when it wasn't anything to do with her. She was not job-hunting as hard as she could be, which was frustrating in my little flat, especially when I'd warned her how tough this city is for work and rent, and she'd been dismissive of my advice.

After she moved out, she contacted me mostly for emotional support. I noticed that although she had friendships with people and went out and did fun things with them, she never asked me along for things like that, even though I'd introduced to my friends. She only met me one-to-one, and we'd have endless-seeming conversations about all her problems. If I tried to move the subject in a different direction, she'd drag it back to her. Then, after about forty minutes of this, she'd suddenly decide she'd want to hear about me and say, "so... what's up with you?". After feeling depressed by the conversation, I didn't want to open up about my life to her. I would give a minimal reply and try to change the subject, but I'm not good at thinking of other topics when I'm feeling down, so it was difficult. She seemed to make out like I was being... withholding? Immature for not speaking about myself? These conversations were really draining me emotionally, so I minimised contact with her. If I received a text angling to meet up, I'd leave it a day or two before replying.

When she left the city for good, we met up and spent a nice day together. In our last few minutes together, she said that she felt like our relationship wasn't good and accused me of ghosting her. I was taken off guard, and I let her have it. I said that she was nasty, judgmental, and didn't respect me. I was really verbally attacking her - it was not completely savage but I wasn't thinking about how I wanted to behave, how it would make her feel, or how it would affect our relationship. After that, she basically didn't respond; just said goodbye and left. We didn't contact each other for months after that, possibly over a year, and we've not really addressed it.

I don't feel good about how I behaved, because I didn't behave well! But I also feel hurt and used and manipulated. I know that in that situation, it probably seems like I should be the one to apologise, but I felt ambushed, set up. The positive thing is, it opened my eyes to the true nature of my relationship with this sister - she uses me - and also to my behaviour. I am not as unconscious as I was back then, but I still know I haven't resolved everything and I'm not above it yet. I don't want others to be able to manipulate me like that, so I need to grow more inside.

Is apologising to her for my actions part of the process of growing internally? Should I just apologise for my part and leave it? Should I try to communicate the greater situation, which she most certainly had a hand in creating? She bullied me while she was in her teens, criticising my tastes just because it made her feel good. And then she left the family home and didn't communicate to me. It's funny; when we were arguing on our last day together, that's what she said to me - that by moving away, I'd abandoned the family, and that I'd "ghosted" her, even though she barely communicated to me for years, until she needed a place to stay. Is this projection? Am I projecting? I'm ok with knowing that I do some of the same negative behaviours as other family members. I've grown up with fleas, so admitting it is important for curing it. I'm just really confused about my relationship with her and I want to know that I can do something about it, that I won't look back and regret my behaviour this time.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 08:52:07 AM by Oscen »

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Oscen

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Re: Apologising
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2019, 08:56:16 AM »
I should add, some of the reasons why being around her was so hard were:
1) I was very low in social graces at that time; I struggled to direct the flow of conversation, or to respond to topics I didn't want to talk about.
2) I was also very unconscious and unaware of my feelings at that time, so I wasn't really recognising how frustrated, depressed, or anxious I was feeling until it was taking me over.
These two things combined meant that I didn't recognise how I was feeling, connect it with triggers from the conversation, and take action to reduce these triggers by avoiding certain topics/ending the coffee date when I was tired, or to minimise the effect on me by using self care and mindfulness to modulate my internal reactions.
I hope I've improved in these areas, but I still know that I'd be nervous having a conversation with family members.

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Blueberry

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Re: Apologising
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2019, 10:48:02 AM »
You could do a trial run in advance on here. Write an apology to her in Recovery Letters and see what that changes in you and your feelings.

I'm now very wary of saying/writing anything to FOO members that could put me in an even more bad light than I already am in in their eyes. In the past various FOO members have used that kind of thing as ammunition against me.

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Oscen

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Re: Apologising
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2019, 12:07:25 PM »
Hi Blueberry, thanks, that's great advice. I've written at least half a dozen draft emails to her already, but perhaps putting it out there where people can see it and receiving some feedback will help me see it in a new light.

I am very wary of putting myself in a position where I could be seen in an even more bad light, too, so it is a relief that I am not the only one thinking this way.
Of course, I would love to just give a heartfelt apology, take full responsibility for and own my actions, and perhaps even be forgiven and move forward in our relationship. However, in my toxic family environment, I feel like that could be used against me. I'm so confused.

I will go ahead and write this apology and post it. Thanks again for the great advice. I want to move forward in this area so badly, I am always spiralling out of my mind because of it.

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Kizzie

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Re: Apologising
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2019, 03:09:51 PM »
I so get that apologizing often means it will be used against us - nothing worse than the smug smile you see on an abuser's face when you've tried to be the better person! 

I do think though that a bit of grit is not a bad thing to be on the receiving end for our family members.  I'm not talking about being passive aggressive so much as being more open and forthright about feelings, in your case about what your boundaries are when it comes to your S. It saves us from being PA which just inflames things in my experience and like you I never felt good about stooping to their level. 

I have taken my parents and B to task in as honest a fashion as I could a few times (not yelling or hurtful but stating how I feel, what I will not put up with in a firm, respectful manner), and it resulted in establishing much needed boundaries.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 03:11:24 PM by Kizzie »