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Dear Wendy

This doesn't feel right

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This topic contains 30 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by avatar dinoceros 3 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #839819 Reply

    I know this is gonna sound whiny, but sometimes I feel very unimportant to most of my family, specifically my sister. I try to be a good sister to her, but she never reciprocates most of the things I do for her, never appreciates them, and acts entitled to them.

    One thing I did for her was try to make her 30th birthday special. She lives ten hours away from me and I only had a weekend to be with her for her 30th. I drove down to her place Saturday, went out to a fancy restaurant and a bar with her and her friends that night, spent all day Sunday (which was her actual birthday) at a party that was thrown for her, then drove home on Monday. That was a lot of effort to go through just for one weekend, but I did it for her. I also got her some very expensive earrings for her birthday.

    Later that year, she planned and orchestrated a big 60th birthday party for our dad. She surprised the hell out of him by showing up for a long weekend and bringing her one year old son with her. My dad actually cried when they first got to his place and it was the first time Ive ever seen him cry in my life. It meant so much to him that they were there and that my sister did everything else she did to make his 60th special.

    She does a lot of things for other people to try to make their special days as special as possible. She throws wedding and baby showers for people, she throws bachelorette parties, and most often, she throws birthday parties, but I don’t think she’d ever do any of these things for me. She’s very thoughtful when it comes to other people, but when it comes to me, she can be very thoughtless and selfish.

    I’ve thought about why she might treat me that way and have considered that I may be at least partially at fault for it, but I can’t think of anything I may have done or said to cause this. That probably sounds like a lie, but it’s true. As I said, I do a lot for her, but she never reciprocates and although she considers us to be close friends, she sometimes treats me like I don’t matter at all to her. Most of my family can treat me like this at times and it hurts. I already have very low self-esteem and this kind of treatment makes me feel very small and unimportant.

    When I turned 30 in September 2017, no one in my family did anything for me except my mom, granddad, and uncle. My grandmother forgot and everyone else simply didn’t care, even my dad and sister. I felt that since I drove ten hours to be with my sister on her 30th and since she planned a big party and flew home for our dad’s 60th, then she’d want to be at my 30th birthday as well, but she didn’t. She didn’t care, didn’t even think about it.

    I’m disappointed as my 30th was really kind of a bust. I really shouldn’t complain as it was partially my own fault and it could’ve been a lot worse, but it wasn’t a special birthday in any way. One way that it was my fault was because I didn’t tell my friends that it was my 30th or even that it was my birthday because I’m very shy and can’t take getting more than a certain amount of attention. Many friends already knew, but we’re unable to celebrate with me for one reason or another. I went out to dinner that night with my mom and boyfriend, but that was it. That was all I got for this milestone birthday. My sister got a huge party with a dozen and a half friends at one of the fanciest restaurants I’ve ever been to followed by several hours at a bar afterwards, and an all day party the next day. Again, I know this is very whiny, but sometimes I feel like I’m not meant to ever have anything nearly as special as my sister. I feel like it’s my destiny for everything I have to always come in second to everything she has.

    Anyway, now here’s my problem. My mom feels bad that she didn’t do more for my 30th birthday and that my sister and dad didn’t do anything at all. She can’t get my dad to make it up to me, but she’s trying to get my sister to do so and she herself has been trying to do so. She asked me what I wanted and I asked for a trip to San Antonio (we live in Texas). She’s been trying to make that happen, but it’s gonna take a while. She asked me what else I wanted and I’ve come up with a few things. I admit I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to movies, especially horror movies. The 90’s horror movies are my favorites, so last weekend, I spent Thursday through Saturday night at my mom’s house (I still live near her and my dad) and we stayed up late, ate junk food, and watched Scream once and Scream 3 twice as my mom fell asleep the first time we tried to watch it (I don’t like Scream 2 so much). She also bought me a special dinner all of those nights. It was nice and I really appreciated it, but it felt kind of pathetic celebrating my 30th birthday a year and a half late. I didn’t feel like a 30th birthday celebration as much as a loser attempt at making up for something I just can’t make up for. This weekend, I was going to ask my mom for another movie night, perhaps a trip to the movies, and a trip to the natural history museum as I am a history nerd too, but I’m afraid none of this will fix my disappointment of a 30th and will just feel pathetic on my part for wanting these things.

    I don’t want to tell my mom this because it will just make her feel worse for not doing more for my 30th and she feels bad enough already. However, I kind of would like my dad and sister to know how I feel simply so they’ll maybe try a little harder not to screw things like this up anymore. But I’m afraid that telling them won’t do any good and that if I tell them, they’ll tell my mom, so all I’ll accomplish is making my mom feel worse and making my dad and sister think I’m just a whiny loser. Even if my dad and sister are willing to try to make this up to me, I don’t know whether or not to let them because I don’t know if this can be made up to me. I’m 31, I can’t go back in time an re-celebrate my 30th birthday and celebrating it this late just doesn’t feel right.

    What should I do? Should I continue letting my mom and, if they’re willing, the rest of my family make this up to me or should I just stop whining and get over it? Regardless of which of those I do, should I let my dad and sister know how I feel? Should I tell my sister that I’m tired of her doing things for other people that she won’t do for me despite the fact that I do them for her? Should I tell her and my dad how unimportant and ignored they make me feel? Would it do any good?

    #839824 Reply

    First things first: when you do things for other people with even the vaguest hope that they’ll reciprocate but don’t tell them that you’re creating what is called a covert contract and it’s bound to end in heartbreak.

    Second: your sister sounds like a very busy and social person who actually TOLD PEOPLE it was her birthday so she got lots of celebrations and parties. You didn’t tell anyone because you’re shy and don’t want a fuss (allegedly) but then got mad nobody did anything. Again: covert contract but with the added bonus of expected mind reading.

    Thirdly: your poor mum is trying to organise a damn trip for you and you had a movie night and a dinner. All of that happened because you opened your mouth and said something. Ask for what you want in life and hey presto you might get it.

    Finally: your sister has what sounds like a little kid. You can’t ask her for the same that you can give, logistically it is so much harder. Stop expecting anything there.

    #839828 Reply

    Let me clarify a few things if I may. I didn’t want a fuss from a lot of people, I just wanted my sister (and my dad) to show that they cared and they didn’t. I would’ve liked a small celebration, just not a huge one with a whole lot of people.

    “your poor mum is trying to organise a damn trip for you and you had a movie night and a dinner.” Yes, and I appreciate it immensely. “All of that happened because you opened your mouth and said something. Ask for what you want in life and hey presto you might get it.” Completely right and I hear that, but I actually did let my sister know that I’d like her to come up and celebrate my birthday with me and she said she would, but then she didn’t.

    “your sister has what sounds like a little kid. You can’t ask her for the same that you can give, logistically it is so much harder.” I hear that as well and realize that maybe I AM out of place in expecting so much for her, but how is it that she manages to do so much for other people? She came to town for my dad’s 60th birthday and planned a huge party for him, she’s traveled out of town for many other people’s birthdays and other special days, she’s currently planning a baby shower for our cousin (which our cousin didn’t ask for) and there was no reason she couldn’t come to town for mine. However, I know you’re right, I shouldn’t expect so much from her. I’m just being whiny. I guess I’m just overly sensitive and get butt hurt too easily. I’ll work on it.

    #839854 Reply

    Sounds like your 13 years old, all I got from this letter was ” I, Me, Myself…

    #839857 Reply

    Sounds like you and your mom are a team and your sister and your dad are a team. Is that how it was growing up?

    Have you actually talked to your sister that you feel this is a one way relationship? She invited you to her birthday – did you invite her to your birthday? Did you ask her to join you or did you simply assume that she would pull a surprise like she did for your dad?

    #839866 Reply

    I think when you are comparing yourself to her, and conversely compare the way she celebrates others vs how she celebrates you, you will always feel less than. You are totally different people. She spent a weekend celebrating her birthday. It sounds like she’s really social, likes parties and has a lot of friends. You didn’t throw the party for her, right? Did you take part in any of the planning? I’m guessing she and her friends did that.

    You wrote you didn’t tell your friends, and I don’t think you reminded your family or made a big deal about how excited you were for that milestone. And here it is, a year and a half later and you’re still upset about it, and still wanting more and more. I don’t mean to be rude, but you do seem very sensitive, easily butthurt and slow to move on from perceived slights. Is it really such a terrible thing, at thirty years old to have a grandmother forget your birthday? I’m sure she didn’t forget it AT YOU. Your father is a little more hard to accept, but does forgetting a birthday really equal not caring about you? Your mother has indulged this so far, but I think it’s unfair to continue to guilt her into celebrating at this point. Even the way in which you are having your mom “celebrate” with you is very telling about your personality vs. your sisters. You’re upset she had a weekend of celebration but you never told anyone or planned anything for your birthday.

    And a ten hour drive might seem like a reasonable and doable drive to you, but add in a one year old and I think that’s pretty out of the question. I mean, you went because she was having a party. You had nothing planned. If you expected her to drive twenty hours over a weekend and plan a big thing for you, I have to say you aren’t being realistic or fair. Your father turned sixty. That’s a big deal, and maybe she’s the party planner in the family. Comparing your 30th to your father’s 60th just isn’t the same.

    Are you the type who is thankful and grateful when others do things for you, or is this the way you react- not reminding or telling anyone what you want, getting upset when they don’t meet your unspoken expectations? Would you find fault no matter what they did? It kind of sounds like you might. When someone is hard to please, people often give up trying.

    Life isn’t fair. I know it’s hard to accept that, but it’s true. If you go around looking for ways to feel hurt or left out or less than- you will find them.

    Relationships between siblings aren’t always meant to be best friend like. People grow apart. Sometimes parents favor one child over the other. That doesn’t mean you have to shove your feelings down, but you need to work on your resilience. You’ve been stewing about this for over 18 months at this point. When do you let go? When do you say, enough is enough? It happened, it’s in the past, and it’s time to move on.

    I think you should look into speaking with a counselor. It could really help you find a place where you can accept yourself and the differences between yourself and your sister. And a counselor might help you find ways in which to communicate what you want from the people in your life. You’re holding onto this disappointment and anger and it will make you bitter as you get older.

    #839876 Reply

    Hi-I think this is more about you and yourself esteem than anything your sister or family, are or are not doing for you. I think you envy your sister and her whirlwind social butterfly ways and wish you were like her/had that lifestyle.
    I advice therapy too-to find out why you feel so inadequate/unhappy. Also,as mentioned above-people are not mind readers! If you want a great party or to go to a great restaurant, then plan that, do that. If your sister or family can’t or won’t come-have a few close friends, your guy etc. You are really the only person in charge of your control of what does or does not happen. “Make it so” and/or stop complaining. Yes,you do sound whiny and unable to be satisfied!

    #839880 Reply

    I’m assuming your sister and her friends planned her 30th birthday celebrations. You could have chosen to do the same with your own friends. Instead you decided your sister should plan a party and then were upset when it didn’t happen. If your sister knows you don’t like attention and big parties then she may be respecting your personality when she doesn’t throw a big party for you. I’d personally consider it rude to plan a big party for someone who hates to be the focus of attention.

    Did your parents do anything special for your sister’s 30th birthday. You don’t mention them being involved at all. If they did none of the planning for her birthday then it would be favoritism to do the planning for yours.

    At 30 you should be able to plan what you want with who you want. I think your take away lesson here is to be more proactive in your own life. Your sister got the 30th she wanted because she actively worked to make it happen. You can do that too.

    I wouldn’t keep trying to guilt your mom into making you happy. Your happiness rests within yourself. You need to figure out how to make yourself happy. If you’d like to see a museum why not invite your mom to go and you take her to see the museum. You make the plans and pay for it. That would be a good start for breaking out of this pattern you find yourself in. Maybe invite your boyfriend to come along too. Start with something small like a museum and see if it doesn’t feel good to take charge of your own life. You have the ability to make yourself happy.

    #839882 Reply

    You didn’t want a big party and you kept your birthday a secret, and you’re upset that you didn’t get a big party? You are upset that “all” you got was a nice dinner out with your mom and boyfriend? You are still upset about it almost two birthdays later? I’m sorry, that’s…pathetic. You are a grown-ass adult woman with agency. You want a party? Plan a party. I am not much older than you but had to sit remembering for a few minutes what I even did for my 30th. My mom for sure called me, and I think probably sent a check? My brother probably texted me if he did anything at all. I know they love me and I didn’t give it a second thought.

    I think your being so fixated on this is a symptom of some larger dissatisfaction with your life (are you looking for marriage/children and you’re jealous that your sister has those things? Are you seeking more approval from your father, has he always felt distant to you?) Something bigger is going on if you have spent two years hoping your sister will “make it up to you”. It may be time to check in with a therapist to talk some of this out.

    #839887 Reply

    I really think you need to just let this birthday thing go and move on. It’s been a year and a half. The reality is, as an adult, if you want a birthday celebration you usually have to make it happen. You have to tell people and spell out what you want. Or throw your own party. It’s not okay to be holding on to it this long and making people plan multiple make-up events because “all they did” was take you to dinner.

    As for your sister, I don’t know, she’s a different person than you. She has a busy life and friends who celebrate. Not everyone does, and that’s okay. Next time you want something from her, make sure to tell her, and if she doesn’t deliver, oh well, you tried, and it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you, it just means she’s not necessarily going to be able to live up to your expectations.

    But jeez, let your mom off the hook with this, it’s not fair. For your 35th and 40th decide ahead of time how you want to celebrate, and tell the people you want to be there. Create an invitation if you want. I decided I wanted a big blowout for my 40th and I planned it and made an invitation and rented a hotel suite, and told my husband and friends how they could help, and it ended up being a blast. My husband has a milestone coming up and we’ve talked about what he wants to do, which involves very few people and a beach weekend. You have to be clear with people and take the initiative.

    #839894 Reply

    You have to quit being a passive participant in your own life and become the active lead in your life.

    You quietly, passively, wait for other people to do gestures that prove how much they love and value you and when it doesn’t happen you feel unloved. Life doesn’t work that way. You actively talk about and plan what you want. You don’t need to have a birthday like your sister’s. You need the birthday you want which means you plan it and invite people to it and then you enjoy it.

    Start thinking about your next birthday now. It’s not a milestone birthday so you don’t need to do anything big. Even if it was a milestone birthday you wouldn’t need to do anything big. What do you want to do? Who would you want to involve? Start planning it now. It’s good practice and will get you much further ahead than passively waiting around for people to prove themselves. If you do invite your sister don’t be upset if she doesn’t show up. Driving ten hours each direction with a small child is an ordeal. My aunt used to call it torture.

    #839895 Reply

    It’s emotionally manipulative to keep guilting your mom into making up for the perceived slight over your birthday. You asked for nothing and told no one that you were having a birthday. You still got a nice dinner out with your mom and your boyfriend. You got more than you asked for and it was your mom that took you to dinner. Why punish her? Why guilt her?

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