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Supporting younger sister who has gone no contact with mum

Community Member

Hey guys,

I don't even know where to start. My mum has been a very challenging woman our whole lives. Numerous things including - exclusion to sudden favoritism and back, causing eating disorders, prioritizing abusive partner and even worse stepdaughter. My sister has gone through the ringer. I have basically adopted a mother role for my sister since I was in my early teens. At one point even thanking my mum sarcastically for killing my sister, because at that point, my sister was going through extreme depression and suicidal thoughts, I genuinely thought I was going to lose my sister. Over the years, mum has had her own issues to deal with including an attempt to take her life which ended up with her in a mental health ward for a couple months. She has, in a backwards way, blamed how she treated my sister as the reason for her attempt, which has made my sister feel guilty for not forgiving her. But she also won't admit what she's done. I'm going through my own therapy for C-PTSD due to issues with both parents and other outside causes, but nothing as extreme. I'm low contact with mum and dad. 

It has come to a point now where my sister, who is now 30, has been low contact for years, is fed up. Shes going no contact with mum and low contact with dad. 

I know my mum will not accept it, try to put me in the middle, and I believe she will also try take her life again. 

I don't know how to support my sister through this while also managing my own mental health. 

I guess I don't know how to shut down mums questioning because she brings up my sister 4 out of 5 conversations. I know i'm going to be in the middle and if mum tries something, her family will come after me. 


2 Replies 2

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Stuckinthemiddle431~


This is a very difficult situation and I can see you are concerned for your sister -and your mother -possibly to the extent of not looking after your own welfare.


I guess care has to be practical, and I would suggest that in order to do anything for anyone else you need to be in a good state yourself. As the sign says in aircraft


"Put oxygen mask on self before attempting to assist others."


So do you mind if I ask what supports do you have? From medical treatment to a family  member or friend you can lean on and discuss matters, someone who cares?


Once you have that foundation it my be easier to sort out priorities. If you get on well with your sister and have confidence in her being able to make adult decisions then  respecting her decision to not be in contact wiht your mother, and only a bit with your dad would seem sensible. Have you discussed your worries with her?


You are not the main person responsible for your mother's mental health or welfare,  she is together wiht your dad and together wiht doctors, and I wonder if it is possible for you to have a talk ot him about this - is he reasonable? I know you are only in low contact with him so I'm sorry if I'm suggesting an unrealistic action.


It may well be that your mother did blame herself for how she has treated others but I would hope after being in hospital for attempting to take her life she has medical professionals who have her under their care. While you might be frightened she my attempt again there is little you can do except stonewall any inquiries she makes about your sister and suggest she contact her direct.


I'm sorry to be blunt but nobody can keep someone else alive on thier own.


If you would like to return here and talk some more that would be excellent








Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Stuckinthemiddle431


You are such a beautiful guiding light for your sister and she's so truly blessed to have you in her life, especially in her darker times. As Croix points to, it's so important that you look after your own light so that you don't feel yourself losing some of it. Sometimes the challenge can involve recharging so that we can feel our self in charge, as opposed to feeling like a flat battery that's been drained by a number of people and circumstances.


I've found while being a mum can be an emotional experience, some of the emotions can be deeply confronting. The challenge can involve facing them head on, as opposed to not wanting to face them because of the way they lead me to feel. Me not wanting to face the more challenging emotions does my 21yo daughter and 18yo son no favours. If I don't openly talk about and explore where I went wrong, from my kids' perspectives, I can't expect to maintain a relationship of mutual respect, consideration and positive growth. It's not about blame, it's more about the 3 of us waking up to how and why things went wrong in the ways they did, including how my lack of self understanding and skills as a person and parent at certain times impacted them. Sometimes kids turn out to be the best guides when it comes to waking their parents up to stuff, including the painful stuff.


If you happen to be the kind of person who has a natural way of offering some light for pretty much everyone in your life (offering a sense of comfort, direction, wisdom, solution, warmth etc), every person looking for light will be in the habit of coming your way. A little like moths to a flame, with your mother being no exception. Re-directing your mum to a different light source (a counselor) could mean every time she starts confiding you you about your sister, you could say 'I've given you a source other than me, you need to utilise that source. Accessing me as a constant source is slowing destroying me. Don't waste time feeling guilty about that, instead use the time constructively. Use it to make your first appointment with a counselor then, if you want, you can let me know of the positive headway you've made'. Take comfort in the idea of you offering her the best direction. 


Perhaps your mum's family need to take some accountability. While they could come to blame you for things, I'd be questioning why they didn't become more involved while leaving a lot up to you to manage. Easy for people to point fingers from somewhat of a distance. When you consider some families gather together for an intervention, that's the other end of the accountability scale.


You're a truly beautiful person.