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My sister has cancer how do I tell her 13 yr old daughter who lives with me?

My sister has cancer how do I tell her 13 yr old daughter who lives with me?

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Super frequent scribe
jdbza

Re: My sister has cancer how do I tell her 13 yr old daughter who lives with me?

It sure is a rock and a hard place! I have times when I feel like telling my neice that it's possible that her mum is not telling the truth and other times when I feel like not saying anything at all. I've spoken to my psychologist about it all and she has suggested as we only see my sister twice a year that we wait and see how things unfold. I honestly don't think anything will be gained from confronting my sister as being dishonest is second nature to her. I hadn't thought of googling BPD and faking illness. I will look into it. If it turns out she is faking it and her daughter finds out I imagine it could well be the final straw in her relationship with her mother. She already has an older sister who has refused to have anything to do with my sister for a number of years. For me my relief is the hours that my neice is at school. It's the time that I take time out for myself, to catch up on things around home and to create things. I knit, embroider and make quilts. I have found it hard to find friends around me to be of support. Usually the answer I've gotten is that they have enough trouble of their own to deal without having to deal with what we are going through as a family. My best friend lives in New South Wales and I talk with her on the phone as often as we can. While I do have 2 sisters my best friend is like the sister I never had. My neice's mum and I have always had an extremely difficult relationship which in the last 2 months has deteriated even more. I have had to draw the line in the sand and now I only communicate with her via email. We also have an unlisted number to stop the abusive phone calls. She has been instructed by social workers that if she sends me an abusive email regardless of what it is about that I will ignore the entire contents of the email. To be honest if it wasn't for my neice living with us I would happily go back to having no contact with my sister what so ever. She last Skyped my neice on Friday and she became very nasty and kept telling her that she wanted my neice to answer in her own words and not ones that my husband and I had shoved down her throat. It ended with my sister hanging up on her as she felt that my neice/her daughter wasn't talking to her the way that she should have been. I wrote it up in my diary what happened as well as emailing her social worker who said that she would email my sister to point out that her behaviour was inappropiate and should not happen again. I have no doubt when she reads the email she will send me an abusive one in response. On days like today I am plain and simply tired ...

Mod
Bree-RO

Re: My sister has cancer how do I tell her 13 yr old daughter who lives with me?

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@jdbza Wow I completely understand your tiredness. I hope on the next day to yourself, you can reflect; and see how incredibly resilient you are in providing for your niece. How did your Niece seem after her Mum was so unimpressed by her tone of voice - how's she doing following that phone call?

 

Is there a chance to lock in some more soothing time for yourself? Even a once a month spa session etc, or is it a bit of a full schedule at the moment?

 

I am currently in the middle of a really interesting book called The Buddha and the Borderline - I wonder if some of it will be familiar to your experiences with your sister.. If the diagnosis is legitimate of course!

 

Look forward to hearing from you Smiley Happy 

Super frequent scribe
jdbza

Re: My sister has cancer how do I tell her 13 yr old daughter who lives with me?

Sorry for not replying sooner ... the last few days have gone from pear shaped to a millon times worse! I've had to contact my neice's social worker and manager to say that until some new boundaries are put in place no contact will be taking place between my neice and her mother. Her mother sent me the most vile, abusive, rant filled and accusatory email. We've tolerated a lot from my sister in the 28 years that my husband and i have been together. We had put healthy boundaries in place to protect us and our family. Since my neice has been with us we have had our ups and downs with the abuse we've recieved but the last email we recieved from her beggers belief. My neice sent her mum an email to say that she wanted her mum to be able to listen to her when she is trying to say something that her mum might not like and that she wants to be able to talk to her. My husband and I as well as her social worker thought my neice was extremely respectful and eloquent in what she wrote. The next skype session her mum ripped into her and said that she was never to speak to her in that way again and that she didn't like being threatened and that it was not the way she had raised her. Then the next day my sister sent me her rant email. My neice is wanting to have a say in how and when she has contact with her mum and to be able to say to her mum please dont' do or say that because I don't like it. My neice has said she is relieved that we are helping her say how she feels and has asked if her child saftey officer in town could come and talk to her so she can send a report back to NZ and to the court so that her voice can be heard and the judge knows how she feels. She turns 14 in a couple of months time. My neice is ok with having a brake from contact with her mum ... she wants it to be sorted because she has said if her mum doesn't change she doesn't want to have any contact with her at all. She doesn't know the contents of the email from her mum at all she just knows she sent us a not very nice email. My neice's social worker has already emailed my sister and ripped into her about how inappropiate she was to both her daughter and me. She asked her how does she think she is going to come back from the treatment she has given her daughter. 

 

I read a book Boundaries by John Townsend and Henry Cloud many years ago and found it to be brillant. I have just started reading the sequel Beyond Boundaries by John Townsend last week. So far I've found it really helpful and would recommend them to anyone.

 

I've been trying to take time out for myself not so easy at the moment ... 

Super contributor
Ngaio-RO

Re: My sister has cancer how do I tell her 13 yr old daughter who lives with me?

Oh man, what a nightmare @jdbza. I'm so sorry that you guys have to bear the brunt of that abuse but it's so wonderful that your neice doesn't!

She's very lucky to have you both. Imagine if she had to manage her mum's struggles all on her own. It would have been so hard for her. When the mental health difficulties of the parent go unaddressed and would ultimately impact the mental well being of the child, and when there's no action on the part of the parent to seek help then the best solution, by far, is a situation like yours. So keep remembering that you are actively steering your neice onto a far easier and healthy path than the one she would have had without you.

 

The thing I like most about implementing boundaries, like the ones you have with your sister and the ones your neice is develpoing with her mum, is that even if the other person doesn't respect them, they still work their magic on you. Everytime your neice upholds a boundary with her mum she'll get a bit stronger and more self assured. Every time she respectfully draws a line in the sand, she'll get better at doing it and it will improve all her other relationships. Which will ultimately improve her whole life. So you're teaching her incredibly important stuff.

 

I would love to hear a bit more about what you're going to do for you now. Can you bump that up the priority list?

Super frequent scribe
jdbza

Re: My sister has cancer how do I tell her 13 yr old daughter who lives with me?

Reading Beyond Boundaries as I said has been a big help. Also with 6 of us in the house reading a book is a real luxury! I am also a big history nut and spend time researching my family tree. I'm not one to settle with birth, death and marriage I try to give each person a story. My Grandma turns 90 in a couple of months and know very little about her family history and I've spent the last 6 months on putting it together for her. I have lots of wonderful people from all over the world that have been helping me. It has been an amazing experience!  My other outs are lsitening to music and watching movies. My youngest son who is 20 and I often go on movie dates to see the latest releases. I also have a best friend - a sister from another mum - who I can talk to. We've been best friends for 24 years and I love her and her family. I also see a psychologist every 6 weeks as well. As you can problem imagine having a family situation that helped create a sister with Borderline, a father with untreated bipolar that is also OCD and ASD and has never been formally diagnosed it because 'he doesn't need to' I've had my own things to work thru. I've been seeing my psycholgist for 6 years now and I am a completely different person from when I first started seeing her. My husband of 28 years is also my rock. He and I have had our ups and downs like all married couples. He is my staunchest support and I can't imagine my life without him. Not one of these things by itself is what works but everything together. Also being able to reach out on this forum has been a God send. No one knows I write on it and I don't discuss what I say or what anyone replies and it has been fantastic. I don't feel like anyone is judging me and the support is amazing!!! 

Mod
Sally-RO

Re: My sister has cancer how do I tell her 13 yr old daughter who lives with me?

Hey there @jdbza,I've come to read this thread just tonight and thought to just say that you seem to have so much resilience it's amazing! Family sounds like it's at the centre of your world.

I'm glad you have found a bit of releif with what's going on in your life here on the forum =)

 

 

Super frequent scribe
jdbza

Re: My sister has cancer how do I tell her 13 yr old daughter who lives with me?

I am at a loss for words ... I received a phone call today from my neices social worker. She requested my sister's medical records. Turns out she has never had cancer. Other than 2 lots of routine blood tests in the last 2 years she has received no treatment that required being admitted to hospital either as an inpatient or outpatient. We told my neice this afternoon and she wrote her mother an email saying how she feels about what she has done and has said that until she decides otherwise she wants no further contact from her mother. I get my sister has done this for the attention but the level of psychological abuse my neice has endured a result of being betrayed by her mother in this way have left me feeling shattered :-(
Super contributor
Ngaio-RO

Re: My sister has cancer how do I tell her 13 yr old daughter who lives with me?

Oh @jdbza I'm so sorry for you and your neice. That poor girl, having to deal with this must be so overwhelming for her. All I can think is how lucky she is to have a stable, loving, supportive influence like you in her life.

 

And I really hope you're accessing your support networks. This is a huge blow, don't weather it alone.

 

Do you think that there might be some benefit in it all being out now? In the sense that you're no longer dealing with the feelings of is she / isn't she, while watching your niece cope with her mum being sick. I know it's incredibly painful but much like lancing an infection, at least now it can heal.

 

Are you guys able to have a bit of a break now? Not a holiday, just a break from communication with your sister. So you and your neice can process it.

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