My sister and I live hundreds of miles apart. She announced a spring visit including her husband and dog, for two weeks’ stay with me and my husband.
I didn't address the Covid issue or any others because I didn’t think the visit would happen. However, she’s told our whole family about this plan.
Problems: We have several pets, including a very senior dog with health issues, who cannot tolerate an active dog in the house.
My spouse can barely tolerate my sister for 24 hours. She bullied me all my life and despite my seeing counsellors/therapists as to how best to address it, she says none of it happened.
I regularly have nightmares about our childhood, the worst of it in my teens. I had to have a termination. She and our mom decided to tour Europe for two months, leaving me alone with my abusive dad. They left the day before my termination (I was 15).
She and mom (now deceased) ignored this whole scenario and caused my high school life to be a disaster. I dropped out but eventually achieved both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Science.
I can’t forget this past, but my sister and I have had some form of relationship with short visits which usually involve a lot of wine.
But I cannot handle her bullying me into this visit. My spouse and I have been locked down since March 2020 and if things open up their visit is the last thing we want.
She and her spouse once visited and we had to ask them to leave after 24 hours. Another time when she visited, my sister fell asleep so I went out for a couple of hours with my daughter. My sister awoke and freaked out. She said she was sure we’d left the house to leave her alone to be killed!
I worry about her reality check on life and also don’t know how to say No to her as she gets so upset.
My spouse says there’s no way they can stay longer than a couple of days and only without the dog, and not until the pandemic is over.
Any suggestions would be great because I realize this covers family past and present, Covid-19 and guests with pets.
Dreading A Visit
Focus on the immediate: No house guests until it’s safe - everyone vaccinated, social distancing and masked indoors, all other socializing outdoors.
No added dog because of your pet’s health issues. Any visit limited to a generous four nights’ maximum, period. Consider the fish rule - after three days around the house, they smell.
You can’t change the past. She was influenced by your mother to abandon you when you were in the most vulnerable position, and she added bullying to her own abuse of you. She’ll never admit it.
But you have choices: Cut her off completely, or decide whatever relationship you’ll allow with her. Focus only on your own well-being during limited occasions of being together. You owe this decision to yourself, so you can put the past behind you.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who was ghosted by someone she’d dated steadily for three months (March 26):
Reader – “The man who ghosted her might have narcissistic personality disorder. When I had a similarly puzzling and painful experience, I found perspective from a range of books and websites on that subject.
“Two books I’d recommend: 30 Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics, by Adelyn Birch; and Why Is It Always About You? by Sandy Hotchkiss.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the wife of 44 years who admitted cheating 25 years earlier (March 29):
Reader – “The husband’s now distrustful and upset. She likely felt relieved in admitting this but in unburdening herself, she put the burden on him. This was unfair and now has imperiled their relationship.”
Reader #2 – “My wife of 50 years had sex with other men, with my support and encouragement.
“I’ve always had mixed emotions including jealousy and upset, yet it also turned me on that she was having new experiences. I’m sure it strengthened our marriage and contributed to me loving her more.
“The letter-writer says they’re having more sex since his wife's revelation. He should focus on this positive. He may not share my turn-on at her dalliances, but he could be happy for her that she had a momentary need satisfied, yet is still with him in a loving relationship.”
Tip of the day:
Never let a past bullying of you be repeated.