And for me, that's a good sign. Because for a long time now, I have been worried that DH doesn't spend much time thinking about his FOO; that he doesn't spend enough time actively contemplating how he got to be where he is today and how unhealthy his familial relationships really were. So I have to admit relief when I saw him worrying over whether or not his sister received his letter. I think he's spent too much time "letting go" and not enough time "holding on" to really have as clear an understanding as I'd like him to have of the long-term emotional effects of his dysfunctional roots. His sister has been a point of contention for us for quite some time now, and not for the all the reasons that his FOO probably thinks. I know that they have said that I'm the (only) reason why DH doesn't have a relationship with her anymore. I know that they have said that it's because NSIL didn't like me that she didn't want to see her brother anymore. I know that they have probably theorized, or at least spread the lie that I've been here, behind the scenes, controlling DH into not having a relationship with his sister.
Please, allow me to set the record straight, and I will do so as thoughtfully and honestly as I can. Am I a reason why DH no longer has a relationship with his sister? Yes. My presence in DH's life brought on changes in his life that were so extraordinary that he had no choice but to either set new boundaries to disallow their harmful behaviors from destroying his budding relationship with me, or else allow his FOO (including his sister) to continue behaving the way they had always behaved: in a manner that was incongruous to DH ever developing and maintaining any truly loving and meaningful relationships in his life. Did I point out to DH how toxic his relationship with his sister was? Absolutely. On every occasion that I saw it, I pointed it out to DH: how he had assumed a father-figure role for his sister, which was a responsibility that never should have been his; how she seemed to resent him for "leaving" her and me for "taking him away;" how they never communicated about anything of even slight substance and she only ever talked to him when she wanted help with homework; how their mother was so enmeshed with both of them that she controlled every aspect of their relationship with each other; how they had never been allowed to find their way through a brother/sister relationship naturally and had had every move plotted out for each other so far in advance that their chance at having a healthy relationship, even once NSIL reached adulthood, was slim, at best. Hell yes, I pointed that stuff out, each and every time I saw evidence of it.
A couple of times, I remember NSIL behaving in a way that I found very odd, and it wasn't until her alleged attempted suicide that I started thinking about those behaviors and piecing together what they were all about. On several occasions when we'd get together with DH's FOO, I remember feeling really uncomfortable (but not surprised) about the way NSIL would hang all over DH. She'd see him and run to him and jump all over him, literally climbing all over his body. Not unlike what a girl might do with a boy she likes to flirt with. -OR- how a little girl might greet her father when he comes home from work. Now, it could be that I don't feel comfortable with that kind of sibling relationship because I didn't grow up behaving that way with my brothers - you know, we respected each others physical boundaries, I didn't see them as father-figures, and I didn't invade their personal space in such a way that one of their girlfriends, if she didn't know any better, would have thought I was crushing on my own brother. NSIL is nine years younger than her big brother, it's true. And you know, maybe there are people out there who would say, "Sure, that's how younger sisters with such a big age difference behave towards their older brothers." But I am six years younger than my oldest brother and that's not how I behaved, so I just don't buy that. Any of the girls I knew growing up that behaved the way NSIL did toward her brother I typically avoided, because they tended to be the type of girls I just didn't jive with - clingy, trashy, and ultimately, boundary-crossers who'd invade personal space.
DH and I recently talked about this aspect of their relationship, and he asked me what might have caused it; why I didn't behave that way but his sister did. My theory is that, like everything else his NM had her hand in, she fucked it all up. She trained NSIL to see DH as a "big teddy bear" instead of as a fellow-human being, someone who had a right to personal space and privacy. And she trained DH to take care of his sister's emotional needs (so that she wouldn't have to, but also to ensure the cultivation of one really fucked up relationship). I told DH that I specifically remember instances when my mother taught us about respecting each others personal boundaries, and it started as young as two years old. When I was two, and one of my brothers would get in my face (you know, nose to nose, staring at me, just to annoy me) my natural reaction was to stick my finger on his forehead and --puuuuush-- his head away. Whenever my mother saw him doing that to me, she would say, "[Oldest Brother], you're invading her space. You need to respect her space." That lesson worked both ways.
I have never had the kind of physical relationship with my brothers that NSIL had with DH. Climbing all over them? No. Touching them? No. Taking their food without permission? No. Their bodies were their own, and I, as their sibling, had no right to invade that space. The same was true of mine. To behave that way with them would have felt disgusting to me. And, with understanding in respect to why their relationship broached those particular boundaries, I shared my thoughts about how unhealthy it was with DH.
Their relationship has been set up as a lose/lose from the very start; with DH being held responsible for NSIL's physical and emotional well-being and NSIL learning to become dependent on him for her happiness. That was not a fair scenario for either party, and certainly has ensured that NMIL doesn't have to get her hands dirty whenever her two adult children interact with each other: they have been so well-trained on how to interact, that by now, they do her dirty work for her and they don't even realize it. The equation is pretty simple: NSIL needs help --> She expects her brother to be her White Knight --> Her brother tries to rescue her and fails, every time (because he simply does not have the power to save her) --> She resents him and --> Falls back into her same self-destructive patterns of behavior, so that soon, she needs rescuing again. And behind them both, somewhere, is that bitch, always muddying the waters with her toxic brew of bullshit and manipulation. Triangulation has always been a major key to controlling the relationship DH and NSIL have with each other.
On November 6, 2012, NSIL tweeted:
You're the only one that could somewhat understand this and make me feel slightly better right now but that won't happen.
I have one guess, and one guess only, as to who this tweet is referring to. And if you're thinking it's my husband she is referring to, then you and I are both on the same page. First, a logistical analysis: It's difficult to tell whether she's saying that she won't ever feel better at all or whether the person she is referring to will never be able to understand what she's going through (because she thinks he doesn't know about what's going on?) But either way, the problem I see is that she is relying on DH to make her feel better. What I'm reading is that her happiness hinges on my husband finding her, understanding what she's going through, and making her feel better. I have a problem with that; a very real problem. I've been trying to explain to DH that, even if he wasn't married with a family of his own, this would be a hugely unfair and unhealthy burden for him to have to shoulder. To say that HE is the ONLY one who could possibly make her feel better is precisely what she has been taught to think her whole life, and speaks very clearly to me about precisely why it is that DH feels so guilty about not running to her side to save her.
What really kills me about the whole scenario is that he can't save her from herself. And he can't save her from her NM either. I asked DH to think about what it would have meant for our family if he were to do what his sister wanted him to do: to drop everything in the moment and run to be by her side; to ultimately end his relationship with me and his children in order to come back to the FOO so she wouldn't be all alone anymore. Had he dropped what he was doing in the moment to be by her side, he'd have missed out on his daughter's third birthday. And had he ended his relationship with me and our children in order to get back in line as the FOO's favorite doormat? I just don't see that as being a particularly desirable option.
Which is why I have told DH that I believe, if his sister ever sees the thoughtful letter he wrote, she'll be angry. Because it's not the kind of help she probably wants. Because it's probably not what she wanted him to do. Because in it, he's telling her she is responsible for saving herself and that their relationship will only ever be different if SHE does the hard work to extract herself from her FOO's tight grasp. I think that, while she realizes on some level her family is toxic and wants to escape them, more than anything else, she doesn't want to have to do the hard work and would settle for having her brother come back and stand by her side once again. At least then, she wouldn't have to be all alone. At least then, they would be taken down together.
I'm hoping that the realness of DH's letter will mean something to her. I'm hoping that it actually gets to her. I'm hoping that she'll see it and know that the kind of support he is offering her in it is genuine, unlike the pseudo support she's getting currently from her NM and her NM's fiance, and all her jackass, uncaring friends. I can guarantee that all she's getting from her mother is a show and all she's getting from her possible future step-father is ridiculous sounding "Facebook Prayers" that act as nothing more than support for HER MOTHER, not her. On November 5, 2012 at 1:45 PM, NMIL's boytoy put up a very public post on Facebook, which was visible to all Facebook users for about two hours:
I am sad to say that an 18 year old girl, that I am very close to and love dearly, attempted to end her life on Saturday morning. She is doing better but is still in ICU. I am asking for as many prayers as possible to help her in her upcoming decisions about her life, treatment and stability. I am also asking for prayers for her mother, father and big brother as the cope with such a devistating event. I pray for the doctors wisdon and for our understanding of what to do, or don't do. We all love her so much and want to help her to help herself. Will you pray for us?
After I was done gagging, I realized that this was nothing more than a show for NMIL's sake, not a genuine offer of love and support for NSIL. I don't know how well the guy knows NSIL, but I'd really be willing to bet that he's not close to her, nor does he love her "dearly." He may very well love her, but the idea that he loves her "dearly" just makes me feel icky inside and I just can't get behind the claim. I'd also be willing to bet that NMIL, who has been oh-so-quiet during this whole thing (a fact that intrigues me so much because she has been disregarding DH's request for NC so much so that she's been contacting him nearly once a month since she got his request), is back there playing her games and pulling her strings like the mad genius she is. I find the inclusion of NSIL's "big brother" in her boytoy's little prayer request to be vomit-inducing, considering that the man doesn't know my husband from Adam, has likely only heard lies and distortions about him, and knows nothing about how DH is "coping" with the news of his sister's stay in the hospital.
And, not surprisingly, NMIL's biggest effort in supporting her daughter seems to be in the (possible - not yet confirmed) offer to send her on a lavish vacation; and the publication of a picture of herself and her daughter on the banner of her Farcebook page.
I was waiting for it guys: the day when NMIL put up a smiling picture of the two of them, to show her "love" and "support" for her "darling daughter." She put this one up on November 6, 2012 and to me, it doesn't represent anything more than a portrait of lies.
NSIL has not tweeted anything in two days and I'm wondering if it's because she has gone somewhere where she does not have access to a phone or internet: either a treatment facility; or else back to her NM's house, where she has been intentionally cut off from the outside world. I called the hospital yesterday and found out that she had been discharged and now DH and I are in limbo about whether or not she ever received the letters he sent. I asked the mail room technician over the phone if she'd be able to forward any letters that came in for NSIL to her home address and she assured me that it was their policy to do that when letters came in to recently discharged patients.
For now, all we can do is hope that DH's letters don't get intercepted, and that if NSIL reads them, they mean enough to her that she uses the information he provided in them to help herself. I've reassured DH that now, largely, it's completely up to her: she has our address and could find him if she really wanted to. I am not yet convinced that she didn't just call him the other day because she was being manipulated into doing so or because she herself was doing some manipulating, but until I know for sure, I won't give up all hope that she may just make it out of this alive.
DH and I are prepared for the fallout of the letters he sent. And I, personally, am not disillusioned into believing that they will save her. I remain hopeful, but realistic.
For reference, here is DH's letter and a link to the list from Parrish Miller's website of the 25 Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers that we sent her anonymously.