Do I Stay or Do I Go?
December 3, 2012 11:41 AM Subscribe
How do I deal with the stress and drama caused by my emotionally manipulative live-in sister? The emotional welfare of her two young children is also at stake. Special snowflake details inside.
posted by BrianJ to human relations (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I’m coming to the hive mind because I am, quite literally, at my wit’s end.
I live in a home owned by my parents, but after my parents divorced and separately remarried, I remained in the home alone, paying off the mortgage. The home is now completely paid for.
For nearly the last five years, my sister (younger than me by five years), has lived with me. During this time, she has been involved in an abusive relationship and had two children (3yo and 4yo) with the abuser. He is no longer in the picture and has been out of it since the second child was born, over three years ago.
My sister is a very unhappy person. She wakes up angry, she goes to bed angry and she strives to ensure that everyone else is as unhappy as she is. She is currently unemployed and stays home with my niece and nephew all day, every day. She is frequently (read “often”) harsh with her children. In my opinion she is mean. She is loud, she yells, she’s short tempered with them and she expects them to exhibit behavior that children twice their ages would have difficulty doing.
Many times, my sister and I will get into disagreements over the way she handles the kids, usually after she has done something that I think goes too far over the line. Our mother also feels that my sister is too hard on her kids and if either of us attempt to intervene or defend the kids, an argument between the adults invariably starts.
The stress of worrying about the children is making me insane. I constantly walk on eggshells, afraid of the children doing something that is going to invoke her wrath, causing her to yell, causing the children to cry. I find myself coming home from work later and later each day – going to see a movie after work, spending hours at the library, wandering through the mall, just to get some peace and quiet.
I would like to point out that she has never been physically abusive with either of the children, but emotional abuse is on par with physical abuse as far as I’m concerned.
I worry that if I leave, the children will suffer because there will be no one to stand up for them. I also worry that if I do nothing, I will remain miserable and stressed beyond my breaking point. I currently suffer from anxiety/depression issues and take medication for same. I’ve tried to get my sister to see a therapist or talk with her doctor about medication for her issues but, as she’s currently unemployed, she has no insurance and medical care is prohibitively expensive.
I also realize that these children, whom I love dearly and have provided the majority of the financial support for, are not mine and I truly have no say in how she raises them. I just want them to be happy and healthy and feel like this is not the best environment for this to happen in.
Please, help me. I’m in emotional agony and don’t know what else to do. Should I leave? If I do, how do I get over the guilt I will feel about leaving my niece and nephew? If I go, how do I drum up the monthly rent that I’m not currently paying? Should I stay? If so, how do I cope with the never ending onslaught of negativity and hostility?
Thank you in advance for your comments.