In 4 days time I go away on holiday with my parents, my sister, her husband and children and my brother, his wife and their children. It’s a very rare full family holiday which I have organised. I feel very lucky in that I get on very well with all members of my family including my brother & sister in-law.
As human beings we all have our faults and flaws, but ultimately we’re a pretty close family who get on well together. This post is about my sister.
For some reason my sister has an ever-increasing problem with my mum. I’m pretty good at reading between the lines & understanding complex inter-personal issues, but I have to say this one has me totally stumped. I suppose it’s been slowly brewing for many years but this last week it has taken an unexpected and unpleasant turn for the worse.
I’ll try to give a bit of background to this without recounting our entire family history.
The original idea was to hire a villa in Portugal for this family holiday, then my dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer which made it impossible to really plan ahead. Rather than ditch the holiday idea, we agreed to holiday in the UK instead. Dad has had treatment which hasn’t gone too well and he’s just found out he will have to have his bladder removed which obviously has been pretty rough news to deal with for my parents. It’s a really tough time for them.
Last week my parents drove up to my brothers in the midlands to spend a week offering some much needed childcare to my brother & his wife while the kids are on holiday. They thought it would be nice for my sister’s youngest to go up with them for the week as all the cousins get on really well and her older siblings were off on holiday with friends etc. so was a chance for her to spend some time with her cousins.
They all had a great time despite my mum & dad having to make an unexpected day trip to London to see a consultant about dad’s cancer. Luckily my sister in-law was able to cancel a couple of meetings and look after the children that day.
I got a phone call on Sunday from my parents apologising for what they were about to tell me but they thought I should know (never a good opening gambit from your parents).
They explained that my sister had behaved really aggressively towards them on the day they drove up to the midlands when she dropped her youngest of with them. She said they were stupid to be going up to my brothers, especially in dad’s condition and what on earth were they thinking (this was not delivered in a ‘concerned daughter’ way, this was aggressive and unpleasant apparently. She was behaving very unpleasantly and in the end she left them without even saying goodbye. My mum was incredibly confused and upset by her behaviour, but as my mum always does, she tried to just excuse the behaviour as just a particularly bad example of my sisters occasional bad behaviour (especially towards her).
A week later my parents return home with my sisters youngest, all having had a lovely week at my brothers – especially my niece who for the first time was alone with her cousins and not walking in the shadow of her older siblings. Apparently she really came out of her shell and was almost a different child. Then my sister arrived to pick her up and take her home.
My mum had hoped that she would get a call during the week apologising for being so rude before… there was no call. In fact my sister didn’t phone once during the week to speak to her daughter which I have to say I find extremely unusual – very unlike my sister.
Not only was there no phone call and no apology, but the aggression picked straight up from where she’d left off before and was apparently ranting – about really stupid, dare I say irrational stuff. For example my dad mentioned that my brothers cat woke them up a couple of times at 5am, which turned in my sisters head into ‘my brothers cat has prevented my child from sleeping. They shouldn’t let the cat have free reign in the house, now you’re handing me back an exhausted child – it’s unforgiveable’…. wha…???
As they were sitting talking, my sister’s youngest put her feet on her mum’s lap as is quite usual, my sisters response was to push them off and said ‘oh god don’t put them on my lap they stink’ (my niece is 8 years old by the way). This visibly upset my niece who hadn’t seen or spoken to her mum for a week, so my dad jumped in protectively, saying ‘oh don’t be horrible she’s just being affectionate’ to which my sister flew off the handle and literally started ranting ‘oh that’s right, it’s always my fault isn’t it, I’m always the one whose in the wrong, well I’m sick of it…. etc. etc.’
Now, my sister has her faults, she’s cut from the same cloth as my dad as far as having a temper is concerned, as am I. I, fortunately, have managed to control the ‘dark side’ of my temper, my sister less so. However she is not a monster – she is certainly not the monster my description of her recent behaviour has painted her to be. True, she has had a very odd resentment towards my mum for years, but she seems to have moved up several gears and it has really upset my mum and dad at a time they need us to be supporting them.
In 5 days we all go on holiday. My brother is cross about my sisters behaviour, my mum & dad are upset, my sister is possibly having a nervous breakdown or maybe going through the menopause… this is potentially going to be the most disastrous holiday I have ever had…. like going on holiday with a live bomb.
I tried to spin things around in my parents heads a little so that rather than upset and outrage at my sisters behaviour, I have suggested we should be worried and concerned.
I think my mum is at snapping point (which I have never seen her reach before… ever), my brother has a really stressful job and this holiday is really important to him, so I think his tolerance of bad behaviour from my sister will be very low. I am in dire need of a stress-free, relaxed holiday too – I’ve been really looking forward to it, but now I’m just absolutely dreading this holiday.
I am also genuinely concerned about my sister and don’t really know:
a) what is wrong – I can of course ask her, but I believe she won’t know what I’m talking about – she seems oblivious to her bad behaviour.
b) how to handle her without making things worse (bearing in mind her apparent and total self-unawareness)
c) what we should do moving forward… assuming we are all still talking at the end of all this.
Wish me luck.
Perhaps now would be a good time to tell them all that I’m gay….