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Feeling ashamed

Apr 20, 2016 7:13 PM

So, I have no idea how to express all of this.

My big sister is a super-active, super-mom who believes that everyone can accomplish everything if they put in the hard work and dedication. She has lost tons of weight, has 7 children, works as a school teacher and a Beachbody coach, and runs marathons on her weekends. I look up to her and love her with all of my heart, but she has never been a very empathetic (or even sympathetic) person.

I have had chronic pain for over a decade, but I have never felt like I could open up to her about my health problems. My mother is also a chronic pain sufferer--and has gone down the path of prescription medication addiction (she overdosed 4 times last year, and we nearly lost her the last time). My sister has emotionally shut off my mother since then--and always has something negative to say to me about my mother and her pain not being as bad as she says it is. I have gone through a range of emotions about my mother's addiction. I fluctuated between fear and anger and sympathy--and I have found that the best way to talk to her is through empathy and sympathy. We talk to each other on the phone a couple of times a week (complaining about our pain levels mostly)...and I know if she stops calling me she is probably having a bit of a relapse with her medications.

Because of my sister's attitude towards my mother, I am hesitant to speak of my own pain. I practice a healthy lifestyle (especially when it comes to food) and I am avoiding prescription medications until I get a definitive diagnosis. I am unable, however, to do much in terms of physical activity. I am in physical therapy twice a week, but simply walking a mile can trigger a week-long pain spike.

So here is my issue. My sister has invited me to a 5k foam/glow run on May 7th (with my wonderful nieces), and I am terrified to give an answer. She rarely invites me to anything or comes to visit me at my house, so I feel a bit obligated to take her up on her offer. I know that there is a high likelihood that I will not be in good shape after this event. Tears will most likely flow. I also have to travel out of town for a few days on the 11th-13th, and I am already preparing for the repercussions of several hours of driving/riding those days. Additionally, I start college classes on the following week. I REALLY don't want to set myself up for suffering, but I don't know how to talk to my sister about pain....I feel like a failure...

Apr 20, 2016 8:14 PM

If I were you I would tell your sister that you would love to see her and your nieces but can't commit to it because you have an extremely busy week after that weekend.

Apr 20, 2016 9:27 PM

I'don't tell her I couldn't do it and why I couldn't including her less than sympathetic attitude.

Apr 20, 2016 9:43 PM

First and foremost, you are NOT a failure. You have been plagued by pain as your Mother has and your Sister was blessed with good health and no pain. I have to say that you can accomplish anything you put your mind to but only to a point. You can only go as far as your physical being will allow. You've nothing to be ashamed of. You certainly did not ask to be this way. You are not on pain medication since you don't have a definitive diagnosis and that is a plus for you. You eat properly, you walk (if a mile makes you suffer then walk half and do it maybe twice a week if you can manage. Perhaps you can meet your Sister for coffee and have a calm conversation with her and explain to her now you feel. Let her know that you do not want to be compared to your Mom and also she needs to be aware that, while she is full of energy and does all these things, even able bodied people can't all do the same. We are all individuals with our own energy levels and reserves. Tell her that you're not sure if you can join her and give her the reasons that you posted here. Perhaps she could join YOU at a doctor's appointment and he/she can give a medical explanation of what you're going through and she may be more understanding. As far as your Mom goes, I'm so sorry she struggles with her medication and that she has overdosed. I'm sure that's frightening. Thank God they were able to save her. Perhaps through speaking with your Sister, she will come to have more understanding for what you and your Mom deal with every day. Keep the day open and tell her that you will do your best and this way if you're not up to it, you don't have to worry about it. Maybe after a heart to heart, your sister may start to be more understanding and sympathetic to your situation. I wish you all the very best and hope that all goes well for you. {{{Hugs}}}💕🙏🏻🌻

Apr 20, 2016 10:15 PM

Thank you all for the advice <3 I'm not sure what I'll do, but I don't know that having a heart-to-heart will do any good. I've tried scheduling coffee time with her, but she has brushed me off for over a year (she only makes time for marathon events and working out it seems). I wouldn't call her a cruel person, but she definitely isn't the emotional type. She is quite set in her beliefs, and she is very difficult to talk to! I have an easier time opening up to her 19 year-old daughter to be honest.

Whenever she talks about my mother's pain, she brings up that SHE was able to stop taking her pain meds quickly after her c-section, her gallbladder removal...etc. She doesn't seem to fathom that every single body is wired differently.

Apr 20, 2016 10:26 PM

I'm really sorry to hear that. If she's blown you off for over a year to sit and have a cup of coffee with you then don't feel guilty about not going if you're not up for it. You are right, everyone IS wired differently. Perhaps she is dealing with her own issues and pain (emotional or physical) and the only way she can deal with it is to keep moving. She may be afraid that if she slows down, she'll lose focus and not be able to cope as she does now. It could just be her way of self preservation. We all deal differently. I wish there was a solution. Have you considered calling your 19 year old Neice and having coffee with her?? Not necessarily to chat about all this, but a visit may do you good. I wish you the best and my thoughts and prayers are with you.💕🙏🏻🌻😊

Apr 20, 2016 10:45 PM


My sister has dealt with a lot of emotional pain and turmoil over the years. Her first husband was a physically abusive, crack addict. Her second husband was even more terrible--as we found out that he had been sexually abusing her daughter for several years (he has a life sentence in prison, thank goodness). She has put up a lot of walls since then. I cannot say I blame her for wanting to keep "busy."

My niece visits me quite often. Despite living over an hour away, she comes over for dinner or just to hang out. She sometimes helps me with chores or puppysitting when I'm having a hard time. She will be housesitting for my hubby and I when we are out of town that second week in May, and she will likely visit before then as well. She's a soft soul, and I am really glad to have her around!

I DO have a hard time getting out and talking to people. Being a naturally anxious person (with PTSD) doesn't help the situation either! :D It can be a vicious cycle of stress and pain and frustration!

Apr 20, 2016 10:46 PM

p.s. i hate not being able to edit my posts for grammatical errors!

Apr 20, 2016 10:59 PM

I hear you loud and clear, Flown. I am sorry that your Sister has been through that with her husbands and I'm sorry that your niece was abused by her second one. I hope he rots in prison. I knew there had to be something that kept her in a constant motion.
I have had anxiety and depression since I was a kid and it has only worsened as I have gotten older. I don't have PTSD but know folks who do and it's a nightmare. I think I saw you post that it was VA diagnoses. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your service.
I am happy to hear that your niece comes to see you often and that you are so soothed by her gentle soul. Everyone needs to have someone like that in their lives. I hope everything works out for you. If you need me, feel free to holler, I'll come waddling to your aide. {{{Hugs}}} 💕🙏🏻🌻😊

Apr 20, 2016 11:09 PM

It wasn't me with the VA diagnosis (I can't remember who mentioned it recently). I was diagnosed in 2006 by a psychotherapist after a mental breakdown. My sister and I grew up in an abusive household as children/teenagers, and I was the rebellious child that took the brunt of the abuse.

It was really cool seeing the decreased hypothalamus volume (associated with PTSD) on my brainscan recently!

Apr 20, 2016 11:13 PM

And thank you so much for the hugs! <3 <3 I am a hugaholic!

Apr 21, 2016 5:46 AM

Flown, you are in no way a failure if you don't go to the marathon. Like AlwayZ said, if your sister has blown you off for coffee... I'm sorry about your abusive childhood. I know what that's like. It does sound like your sister is using her activities as coping methods. She apparently doesn't realize that a c-section & gall bladder surgery isn't in the same category as chronic pain. Open up and be honest with her about your pain and how it limits activities, and explain how much the next week's schedule will take out of you. She won't comprehend it, being so healthy. But you won't have to keep silent anymore either. Ask her to read "the spoon theory.". If she shuts you out because she doesn't want to hear it, then it's possible there's more to her own activities & behavior; maybe denial of some of her own pain (physical, mental, psychological). Hugs & prayers your activities/trip will not trigger as much pain as you fear it will. Pace yourself with frequent rest & stretching, and have a safe trip! 🙂💕🙏🌼

Apr 21, 2016 7:42 AM

Flown do you have a friend that has a toddler. Maybe you can keep pace with the toddler during the run. Lol jk. The run sounds like fun. Maybe you can volunteer to help at the finish line with refreshments instead of actually run/walk the 5k. I have 4 sister. 1 understands what i am going thru. Two say get out and do more becaus itll be good for me. The 4th has no clue. Good luck

Apr 21, 2016 9:22 AM

Flown, I'll give you {{{Hugs}}} any time.. I, myself have always been a very huggy and affectionate person. The best thing about a hug is every time you give one, you get one in return. Hope you're having a better day. 💕🙏🏻🌻😊

Apr 21, 2016 7:06 PM

Y'all are all too sweet.

Teepainter, I can't even fathom having a toddler! I will stick with furbabies and borrowing my nieces and nephews when I have the energy!

Apr 22, 2016 4:11 PM

Flown, is there something special about this race for your sister? If it's important to her, that may be why she wants you to be there with her. I'm sorry for all you, your mother and your sister have gone through. It sounds as if things have been really tough for a long time. Maybe if this race seems important to your sister you could explain that, while you just aren't able to run it, you'd be honored to cheer them over the finish line and maybe go out for brunch or something afterwards.

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