When I was younger, around 14 or so, I got along great with my sister, who is 18 years my senior. She was my role model and we always had so much fun together. After I graduated from college and moved back home, my sister employed me as her babysitter. She became increasingly lazy and had me do things for her simply because she had a zit on her face or was just too lazy to do it herself. More and more I began to resent her because she rarely showed true appreciation for the things I did for her. With the help of my boyfriend and friends, I started to see that she was simply using me and not even treating me like a sister anymore, but almost like a slave. She paid me horrible wages and became a person I didn't want to be around.
I finally stood up to her — a huge shock to me and a very proud day. She was disrespecting our mother and I told her I had finally had enough of her trash-talking our family, not appreciating me, and taking me for granted. That was two months ago. She has a 16-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old autistic son. I love them very much and it pains me to not be able to see them. However, I recently contacted my niece and snuck over to her house while my sister was gone so I could spend time with them. I miss her family terribly and the sister I once knew, so my question is, do I contact her and further explain why I finally stood up for myself? Or do I wait for her to come to me? I just can't decide what to do since I feel as though I'm owed an apology. Also, how can I go about having a relationship with my niece and nephew who I love very much? I am past the point of truly forgiving my sister, but this tension is having an incredibly negative impact on my life. Please help! — Taken Advantage of Tina
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Dear Taken Advantage of Tina,
Let me first say I commend you for standing up to your sister. I know that took a lot of courage to do what you did so you should be very proud of yourself! If forgiving your sister is not in the cards for you right now, that's your decision, but in order to keep the peace in your family and in order to maintain a relationship with your niece and nephew, you're going to have to learn to tolerate her. You don't need to be best friends again, but you'll have to be civil, and hopefully she'll follow suit. I also advise you to stop sneaking around behind her back. I understand you want to see her kids, but your sister is bound to feel violated and angry if she were to find out that she was lied to.
While I agree that she owes you an apology for treating you the way she did, chances are you won't be getting one anytime soon. Your sister sounds very self-righteous, so instead of letting her childish behavior get the best of you, be the bigger person and go to her. I know it's frustrating to have to be the older sister in the situation, but if it means easing the friction between you two and having a relationship with her kids, it'll be worth it. It's pretty clear that you two need to have a sisterly heart to heart, so after talking everything out, I hope you can work towards strengthening your relationship again. Good luck to you.