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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 994

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Seeking Advice re My Sister

My sister who lives in Alaska has some obvious mental health issues which she is in denial about. For years now, she has been sending me long, delusional, stream of consciousness emails that flow from childhood issues to present-day resentments against pretty much everyone. She has a lot of problems that she invariably blames on anyone but herself, but which an objective observer can clearly see are mostly self-induced. To date, she has alienated everyone else in my family, as well as most of her former friends, with her online behavior (she is an obsessive Facebook user, which I am not, and she basically cyberstalks people). She operates from crisis to crisis, nearly all of which are imaginary, and she frequently attempts to pull me into her manufactured dramas.

She sends frustrated emails if she is not responded to ASAP, but if I respond quickly, it boomerangs right back into a never-ending cycle of epically long, negative, self-pitying messages with no break for paragraphs. No one else in my life comes close to contacting me as often.

She responds poorly to any suggestion that she seek help and believes that there is nothing wrong. My tendency has been to respond with positivity, while carefully wordsmithing my messages because she is always reading between the lines and looking for things to be resentful about. And despite the wordsmithing, she usually finds something anyway.

I am at the point now where her obsessive neediness, her negativity, and inability to honor normal boundaries have pushed me to the point of cutting off contact. The only reason I donít is because I am the only one left who has anything to do with her, so I feel a weird obligation. Also, she has a daughter who, while remaining in contact, keeps her distance because their relationship is toxicómostly due to my sisterís delusional behavior. I am close to my niece and am a bit of a father figure to her, so I stay in contact with my sister partly for that reason.

But her behavior is truly awful. I could fill pages enumerating the crap she has said or has tried to pull. Suffice it to say she is very manipulative, especially on the emotional level. I feel badly for her, but I also feel like cutting her loose because maintaining the relationship is draining.

And thatís when I remind myself that she suffers from mental illness, and my sense of compassion kicks in, and the cycle repeats itself, getting progressively worse as time goes on. I know she has had a tough childhood and that she suffered abuse at the hands of her stepfather. She has also been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury. When she is feeling good, she is smart and witty. She is also a very talented artist. So I know there is some good in there, but itís so overshadowed by negativity as to be nearly absent these days. Itís like she wants she wants me to be her therapist, which I am both unequipped and unwilling to do.

My question is, is there a better way I handle this situation? Lately I have been ignoring her messages and when I do respond, the responses have been short, and she is fit to be tied. But Iím at the point that I honestly donít know what to say to her. If anyone here has been in a similar situation and can offer any advice, Iíd love to hear it. Thanks.

On edit: I wrote her, following much of your advice, and it was like kicking a hornet's nest, but I basically cut her off. Thanks to everyone who responded. I am in your debt.
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