Social Question

Alter_Ego's avatar

How do I fix this mess I've found myself in?

Asked by Alter_Ego (71points) January 2nd, 2011 from iPhone

My sisters and I have not been real close in the last 20 years.
Our mother was terminally I’ll and we all came together to care for her. It was amazing and I cherished the reestablishment of our relationship.
Part if the reason for the rift was that it was revealed that our oldest sisters husband abused my other sister, my little brother, and the abused sisters son. The family, for some dysfunctional reason kept this info from my oldest sister, (the wife of the abuser) until it was to late to press charges.
She was pretty pissed (understandably) that everyone seemed to know but her, and doubted that it was true. She is still with the guy.
That dysfunction aside, our sister rationship blossomed while caring for mom.
My oldest sister keeps offering her husband to help move things from moms house to the other sisters house. It is very akward.
I took it upon myself to tell my sister it would not be a good idea for her to offer anymore.
She is really upset saying that my sister should have talked to HER not me. I tried to explain that I was the one who asked how she felt but now she is all pissed. Moms funeral is I a week and we really don’t need family drama. The innocent victim sister, who was trying to keep her mouth shut REALLY does not need the added stress right now. I wish I would have kept my big mouth shut.
Is there anything I can do or will speaking anymore just make matters worse?

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14 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I think it’s too late to solve things before the funeral unless you guys can all come together in your grief. Given your oldest sister’s feelings about protecting her husband, I doubt that she will be willing to pull back on his participation.

There’s nothing you can say to resolve this situation, I don’t think. Just hope that it won’t all come out at the funeral, and then see if things can be discussed afterwards. It’s hard to imagine resolving it then, either. But perhaps you’ll find ways to forgive each other.

john65pennington's avatar

I answered a domestic disturbance call at a cemetery gravesite, with a situation just like yours. the only exception was three brothers,not sisters. like you, all three had lost communication with each other, until their dad died. for years, the rumble of “he said, she said” had existed in their families. since close contact had not preveiled for many years, each brother did not trust each other, especially when it came down to property and money. the climax occured at the gravesite. each brother came prepared for a showdown and all hell broke loose. when it all ended, each brother was arrested, the spouses were arrested and some grown children were arrested…all for assault and battery.

Whatever each brother received from their deceased father was used for attorneys fees and court costs.

I sincerely hope this is not the situation with your sisters. do whatever it takes to make and keep harmony in your family. talk to each other and never let the lines of communication cease. after all, its your one and only family.

jazmina88's avatar

funerals are emotionally charged…..
apologies do help.

I’m sorry for your loss.

Alter_Ego's avatar

Mom didn’t have much and this situation has nothing to do with material possessions. No blows will happen here.
My oldest sister brought the abuser around during this time and we just sucked it up.
When she went to far and wanted him to go to the victims house I spoke up, probably (she doesn’t know about the conversation) against the will of the victim. I tried to tell my oldest sister that it’s all on me. I feel awful. On one hand, she is asking that the entire topic be tabu unless she is present (we all live in different towns.) on the other hand, I don’t think she is respecting the pain of the victims at all. It’s hRd enough loosing your mom, but even harder when you have to share a meal with your abuser.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Can you go to her husband and say what you know, and that it would be in the best interest of the memory of your mother that he just lay low, and stay in the background as much as possible until after the funeral?

The real problem lies with him, not your sister. Of course she’s going to strike out. Not only did her mother die, but she’s having to process the idea that the whole family kept a 20 year secret from her, AND the idea that her husband is potentially an abuser. Denial and anger is the only refuge she has.

Pandora's avatar

Tell her you understand why you would take his side and you don’t judge her but that you hope she would understand you taking your sisters side and even if she doesn’t believe what everyone is saying, it is what they believe and you too, to be true. You do not say it to hurt her but rather to feel as safe as possible at all times and you all simply do not feel safe and comfortable around him. Ask that she come to the funeral to alone to say her good byes to your mother but that you hope to still remain in touch with her because you all miss her, but that any future contact with her husband simply won’t happen.
If she insist on coming with him than let her know he will be made to feel unwelcomed.
She will either come or not come.

Alter_Ego's avatar

This all came out in the open 20 years ago and was the cause of the rift.
Us sisters were just bonding again when I opened my big fat mouth.

Pandora's avatar

Life isn’t always pretty, and some things need to get said. Keeping things in the dark isn’t a solution either, it is simply avoiding the truth. Your sister is already doing that. No need for everyone to jump on board the fantasy ship. Somewhere deep inside she knows the truth. Playing along with her fantasy will only convince her that her fantasy is right. Tell her you will always be around if she ever needs you but that it doesn’t extend to her husband. In time she may wake up and smell the coffee and come to her senses, but she needs to know someone will be there for her and that you all haven’t closed the door on her.
Let her know you love her no matter what and you hope she feels the same way.
You have to be careful not to make her feel attacked and so she will feel defensive.
Sorry about your mom. I hope it all works out and you call all still remain close but life is messy and somethings take a long time to fix or go beyond control. All you can do is try to make things better.
I have a 2 brothers I bearly talk to any more. I know what is like to wish for things to be like they once were but you can’t have a relationship with someone who won’t respect your wishes.

cookieman's avatar

I would suspect the “bonding” was artificial and came of your shared grief. Which is completely understandable, but it’s not enough to alter your long-held positions regarding the abuse.

Your older sister clearly does not believe or want to believe her husband did such things. And, when this is all over, you’ll all go back to your separate towns and lives, but she’ll still be in a life with him. Whether she (deep down) believes you or not, she has clearly chosen to support her husband. No amount of emotionally-charged sisterly bonding changes that reality.

So, I would suggest you complete your visit without speaking about it again (with the older sister). Mourn your loss, and be thankful you had that brief moment of togetherness with all your sisters.

and I’m very sorry for your loss.

Alter_Ego's avatar

I really think she knows the abuse happened, and for her own reasons that are none of my business (and I respect that) she chooses to stay with him. It’s almost like she kept shoving him in our faces, daring us to say something. Then when I did it was an excuse to say ” I knew it! You have been gossiping behind my back!”
I guess I can’t put the genie back in the bottle. I’m going to try and not beat myself up over this.
Thanks for all the support.

BarnacleBill's avatar

This is what’s known as “the elephant in the room.” You all know the elephant’s there, and your sister wants everyone to be okay with the presence of the elephant. The only way to get rid of the elephant is to talk about it. Whether or not now is the time to get into it is questionable.

Don’t beat yourself up over it. Even though you all have been getting along over the funeral, that’s really just a matter of grown-ups having good manners. You all should get along over the funeral, out of respect for your mother. The reality is, nothing has changed. Just keep in mind that it takes two people to have an argument. If you refuse to argue back, it will become your sister losing control, and that’s her problem.

Alter_Ego's avatar

I actually said that this was the “Elephant in the room,” and she said she didn’t think so because it was no one else’s business. I said that I agreed that her relationship Wa no ones business, but it really is every parents business. Just because she has forgiven him it doesn’t change the pain the victims felt and it doesn’t mean the rest of us won’t be on our guard to protect the newer children in the family.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Just because she’s forgiven him doesn’t mean he hasn’t done it to others, especially since the family has covered it up. Do they have children?

Alter_Ego's avatar

Sorry for not answering sooner @BarnacleBill. This is an alter ego so I don’t check it often.
Yes. They have grown children. One admits to being abused, to defend him tooth and nail and call the victims liars, (and in retrospect had. classic victim symptoms as children) and the oldest believes it happened but not to her.

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