Family

Carolyn Hax: She can’t understand why her older sister dumped her

DEAR CAROLYN: I have a long story and I need outside input. I’ve gone to family, friends, etc. – no one knows what to tell me.

My older sister stopped speaking to me a year and a half ago. It all started because I asked her to come over earlier than she planned for me to do a practice run on her hair and makeup for her wedding. When I asked her to come over early she told me forget it. That was one of the last times we spoke. Before this, we were very close. I was her maid of honor and I was thrilled.

She had gotten a higher-paying job a few months before that incident and, in hindsight, that’s where I see her pulling away. It was almost as if she was looking for a reason to hate me. A week after she stopped speaking to me, I was replaced as maid of honor by her friend who just happens to be a doctor. My whole family was invited except me.

I now am getting married this summer. I don’t want her anywhere near me, but I am so heartbroken still that she wants nothing to do with me. Her reasons just seem illogical – she told me I said mean things to her, and brought up an argument we had when I was 18 (I’m mid-20s now). This is still killing me.

A Sad Sister

DEAR SISTER: No one knows what to tell you because there’s nothing you can do. That is usually the point in situations like this – which are more common than you might think – where someone cuts another person off seemingly out of the blue. It is a statement: “I am in complete control here.”

So here’s one thing you can do when someone won’t let you do anything: Ask yourself whether you missed something, whether you ignored signs you were upsetting her – a year and a half ago, when you were 18, whenever.

I’m not suggesting you look for reasons to blame yourself; just look at yourself, at her, at the context. Look for patterns.

If there’s really truly nothing there, then widen the circle to your family. They all went to the wedding from which you were abruptly excluded? Did they even try to mediate?

If you come up empty still, then you still have two more options available: therapy, and grief.

The former is self-explanatory. Your anguish says there’s something you’re not seeing – in her, in you, in your family, in human behavior, in all of the above.

The latter, grief, means treating this loss not as damage you can somehow repair if only you get the right input from the right person, but instead as a death. That’s what your emotions think it is, because your sister is gone and there’s nothing you can do about it – but you’re bringing hopeful actions to a hopeless cause, and that’s torture.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.

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