Sister Ruined My Family And My Life

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
My sister ruined my family, and torn my life up. She is two years older than me. When we were little we were just normal sisters, but in 8th grade she started to change. she stopped listening to my parents and she was constantly getting in trouble. my parents were so focused on making her good that they totally ignored me and it hurt. then my sister got worse, she got in trouble with the law. my parents would argue with her constantly, it is so hard to describe how awful it was for me when they argued. they screamed so loud and it was scary. sometimes it even got so bad the cops were called. then things seemed to be getting better, i was so happy, it had been going on for 4 years. then.. suddenly things got 10 times worse, she announced she was pregnant and then got mad and moved out. a week later she tried to move back in but my parents wouldnt let her, they argued for what felt like hours. i felt so helpless. for a long time i hated my sister, i didnt talk to her for over 2 years even tho we lived in the same house. then when i found out she was pregnant i felt so guilty, i didnt want her baby to have a bad life. so i gave her a note that told her how i felt and stuff, this was all about a week before she moved out. she thought i forgave her, but i realized i couldnt. i tried so hard to get along with her so her baby would have a good life, that is what i told myself. but then after she moved out she had an abortion. i dont agree with her decision at all. alos, there was this huge issue that happened which was awful a few weekends after she moved out. now it has been about a month since the last big issue happened, things seem to be getting back to normal. but sometimes i have flashbacks, i imagine certain awful fights and it feels like they are real again. it is so horrible, im scared its not over yet. how do i deal with all of this?? i also have a horrible relationship with my parents, i never talk to them about anything anymore.
Signed: Sister Ruined My Family And My Life

Dear Sister Ruined My Family And My Life,


TeenHealthFX can appreciate all of the emotional distress you have been experiencing in terms of the various dynamics that have been going on at home. Not only have you been witness to some pretty horrible fighting between your parents and your sister, it sounds like you have also felt neglected with your parents putting all their attention and energy into dealing with your sister’s acting out behaviors.

FX can understand how it might feel to you like your sister has ruined your family. But we would like you to consider that your sister was not born as some kind of bad seed, but rather that her behavior probably reflects problems in her relationships with both of your parents – problems which were contributed to by her, your mother and your father. Think of the phrase “it takes two to tango.” When you apply that idea to relationships, it basically means that the relationship problems between two people are never one person’s fault – both people involved in the relationship contribute and play a part in one way or another. You mentioned that you have a “horrible relationship” with your parents, so FX imagines that there is something in how your parents have related to you and your sister that has not been helpful to either of you. What separates you and your sister is how each of you has dealt with your anger at your parents – it sounds like she has acted out more of it and you have internalized it and kept it in. While you may show your feelings differently, FX imagines that both you and your sister are not happy and are dealing with tremendous anger and pain.

FX can appreciate that you are not in a place to forgive and forget with your sister or with your parents. You are probably experiencing too much anger and resentment towards all of them right now to be able to do that. And if you are feeling traumatized in remembering some of the fights that occurred, that is only going to make it that much harder for you to feel able to resolve things with any of them right now.

FX thinks that it would be very helpful for you to meet with a mental health professional so you can discuss how you are feeling in a safe and private setting. A therapist can help you to work through your sadness and anger about the family dynamics you have dealt with over the years, can offer you support and guidance in terms of how to deal with your parents and sister from this point on in a way that is healthiest for you, and can help to address some of the trauma that may have occurred as a result of your witnessing so many terrible fights. FX thinks it is important that you not try to deal with this situation and your negative thoughts and feelings alone – so please reach out for help with this. At some point, it might be helpful to include your parents in some therapy sessions, and maybe even your sister if she will go – but you may need to work through some of your feelings around this issue before you are ready for that.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.

Signed: TeenHealthFX