anger and resentment towards sister

Postby burt68 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:36 pm

Cliff Notes: My wife and I have had a difficult time dealing with our daughter over an 8 year period beginning during the time she was in college. She seemed to have a radical change in behavior and exhibited signs of borderline personality disorder. There was this pattern of us visiting her in the city where she lived 1000 miles away, once or twice a year, having a pleasant visit and then after we left, her blowing up that she didn't want to communicate with us.

Enter now my 'hippie' sister. Let's call her Samantha. She has never married, never even had a significant other who was interested in a permanent relationship or loved her. Samantha felt that there were parallels with her life experience and our daughter was perfectly fine, but problem was the family was down on our daughter and we needed to be more upbeat and less critical. I listened for years but it was increasingly apparent Samantha was wrong and she did not have an accurate, balanced view of what was going on. And it was self serving. She was grooming a relationship with the daughter she never had.

Meanwhile, things were going downhill with daughter for no obvious reason and despite trying to walk on egg shells around her. She said we were not to talk to her. She moved and didn't want us to have her address, but Samantha went to visit her and offered to us to mediate. I told Samantha no and wrote a 2 page note why she should not try to mediate and was not authorized to say anything on our behalf. Samantha thought counseling was in order. We agreed wholeheartedly except that we told her it was a real hot button with our daughter and to stay away from that.

So Samantha goes and mediates anyway, hits the hot button and we get an email from our daughter that threatening that our estrangement may become permanent because we had sent Samantha to mediate. Samantha then goes into full con man mode saying she hadn't seen our multiple emails and voice mails, she didn't want to hear about the letter and would hang up if we went further. It wasn't until a year later, that Samantha half heartedly apologized for her past actions, but her solution going forward was to do a better job of maintaining secrecy between her contact with our daughter and us, which is unacceptable.

Fast forward three years, daughter has become engaged, lifted the ban on contact, has a very nice fiancé and everything is as good as can be. The wedding is coming up in a few months. It will be more emotional than normal under the circumstances, I don't know yet if I'll be walking my daughter down the aisle and dread the thought of Samantha being the center of attention.

Neither Samantha or I are comfortable around each other and try to avoid family gatherings where both would be there, causing disharmony in the family. I don't know how to get over this resentment, since she has gone after that which is most precious to me in the most selfish and cruel manner. It does eat at me daily and but I don't trust her and I feel if reconcile, Samantha will take it as validation. Any advice on how I can deal with this and stop smoldering? I feel that Samantha's grooming actions are akin to a pedophile or other woman.
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#1

Postby quietvoice » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:13 pm

burt68 wrote:she has gone after that which is most precious to me

What would happen if you decreased the importance that your sister plays in your mind and in your life?

What would happen if you decreased the importance that your daughter plays in your mind and in your life?

Do you suppose that maybe, by allowing each person play out the schemas that are in their own minds, and not participating in their drama, that you would experience, or come closer to experiencing, some peace of mind?
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#2

Postby burt68 » Tue Jul 02, 2019 9:14 pm

It would be great if I could wave a wand, compartmentalize and forget about this, but I'm not good at compartmentalizing. My mind works like pac man looking at various avenues. And I can't grasp how a person that can be so caring in certain directions can be heartless in others. Is that how we cope in life, just convincing ourselves that people who hurt us aren't as important as they used to be? Reminds me of a certain president who is quite pleased with himself, but not a person I would emulate. Seems like the emphasis used to be that listening, communication and compromise were the keys to resolving conflict. Now it's about building and living behind higher fences?

I'm not trying to be argumentative and appreciate the feedback, but I feel like if I respond with silence, I'm still participating, not just in the drama, but their fantasy. If a parent loses a child due to physical death, they say it's the worst thing you can experience. But if you lose a child to a death of a relationship, yet their still living, then you're supposed to shrug and say que sera, sera.
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#3

Postby quietvoice » Tue Jul 02, 2019 11:58 pm

burt68 wrote: then you're supposed to shrug and say que sera, sera.

Basically, your daughter is an adult. An adult is free to make their own choices about how to live their own life. If she wants to have relationships with people whom you'd rather not spend time with yourself, what do you think you are going to do?

You don't control her; you only control yourself.

You might as well let her live her life and tend to your own happiness. I didn't say build a high(er) fence. I didn't say build any fence at all. Just pointing out that you've got no choice but to let her be who she wants to be, whether that's with you or without you or a combination of both, as the case may be.
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#4

Postby Leo Volont » Wed Jul 03, 2019 12:29 am

Hi Burt, Hi Quiet Voice,

Burt, do you know what Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is? Well, you wouldn't need the Behavioral Part, from what you have told us, because it does not seem you have much of an Anger problem (yelling, cussing, putting your fist through the walls, and generally making all of your loved one's and coworkers fear you... even when you seem okay because they never know when you are going to "blow"). But, you do have a 'Cognitive' Issue. That means that your Mental Evaluations aren't exactly lining up with Reality, or that what your Mind is telling you to do would be counterproductive if you actually did it. So, let's start by looking at Reality. Samantha is your sister. She is your daughters aunt. She is your wife's sister-in-law. She is Family. Yes, you did present quite a horror story. but how much of this horror story was a product of your evaluations of everything? Were these evaluations verifiable and correct? In Cognitive Therapy we learn that as our Mind is engaged in Self Talk, or Internal Dialogue, the tendency is to Agree with that Voice in our Head as though it is Our Accepted Conclusion. But really, our Real Self is the Listener... it is NOT the Voice. Burt, you are allowed to, and even supposed to Dispute and Refute those thoughts in your head when you can determine that They Aren't Really Helpful. We need to learn to come up with Counter Arguments to that Stream of Troublemaking Thoughts. Personal Self Awareness means being able to Challenge Yourself.

Okay, let's think back to your problems with your daughter when she was back in College. When would she blow? (oh, SHE has an Anger Problem! She can have a problem with Mom and Dad, but nobody needs the hysterics and the drama. She could have handled it all by just telling you her issue and then just being 'cold'). I would suspect that she felt she was not able to communicate with you. This is how that works: she would say something and she would definitely know what she means... maybe even having thought about it for a long time, so she could get it right. But then you would seem to miss the entire point and see an entirely different meaning in what she is saying. You would tell her what you THINK she means, instead of just processing what she said. What this means is that YOUR Internal Dialogue (that Voice in your Head) had squeezed in and taken over the conversation. She would feel helpless in this situation because it would seem to her that it is impossible to communicate with you, because your Head is filtering and twisting everything. It would be very Frustrating for her, and, by the way, this is what would Trigger her Anger (two things typically Trigger Anger: Insult, and Frustration). Burt, I am thinking all of this because you really have not been able to explain to us, or to yourself WHAT your daughter was so upset about. My guess is that there were a great many clues, but that your MIND was in its RUT... it is probably the case that your Self Talk, your Internal Dialogue, your Stream of Consciousness is very narrow and confining. My guess is that you are missing a great deal of the Social Content that is going on around you, but that your THOUGHTS are just sort of seeing the Same Old Stuff, whether it is really there or not. For example, think about the scenario of there being somebody at WORK who is Defensive and Really Touchy and you say "Wow, What a Great Day!" and the guy says "What do you mean by that? Are you trying to be sarcastic?" You see how YOUR Communication was taken totally the wrong way by this other person, and it is probably because his Self Talk is kind of Paranoid and Distorted.

Oh, about the Wedding. Well, I think your daughter probably came to the Realization that YOU will probably NEVER understand her and she has come to terms with that. She is probably not mad at you. But it is likely that she also does not expect anything from you. Nothing you do can surprise her anymore. And THAT is the best possible scenario you could expect at the moment. Anything less and you might be triggering her Anger again. Yeah, you could buy a few books and work with Self Help Cognitive Behavioral therapy (if you are interested I can come up with a few Titles), but it takes months of some fairly consistent Work on oneself before anybody notices anything different. So, yeah, the best thing is to stay on your tippytoes, and if she does talk to you, please, listen to what she says, and then DON'T TELL HER WHAT SHE REALLY MEANS. First Rule of Cognitive Therapy: unless you have some better reason for thinking what you are thinking, then you are probably wrong. Yes, some people are better tuned in to Realistic Thinking, but since YOU are having problem, then the Safe Place to start with Cognitive Therapy is that you really need to be skeptical about anything your Self Talk is trying to tell you. Remember, YOU are the Listener, Not the Voice (and for right now, the Voice is full of BS). but, yeah,with your daughter, Smile and Listen. "Yes, Honey" is always a great answer.

Now, about your sister Samantha. Using Cognitive Refutation of a Negative Train of Thoughts, well, Samantha cares very much for family. She stirred up the problem up with your daughter, but so did you, right? But Samantha, as the child's aunt, was obliged to try. If it worked, it worked, and if it didn't it didn't. It is Family. It is not like you can do anything about it, right? Aunts have their Rights. Her relationship with your daughter is important too. Daughters can tell their Aunts stuff that they could NEVER tell their Mothers. Also, your daughter is an adult and really isn't your property any more, is she? Oh, is calling your sister a Hippy really the most accurate and complete portrait you can draw of her? Are you seeing your sister clearly, or are you seeing her through a HAZE of Negative Self Talk and a Filter of Bad Memories, many of which were Bad because of your own contributions to the situations (it was never entirely HER fault, was it?). Even if I disagree with her about EVERYTHING, in the end, what harm can she really do? If she was effective at doing stuff and accomplishing goals, then she wouldn't be much of a "hippy" would she? So she makes a lot of noise and a big splash but basically she is Harmless. THERE! You see, Burt,that is how Cognitive Therapy works. Look at the Bright Side.

Oh, Burt, maybe if you had gone into more detail, more of your own symptoms of Anger might have come up, but your cussing and throwing things didn't seem so important in the overall context. But let me know if you do need help with Anger and I can give you some tips on it. Good Luck at the Wedding.
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#5

Postby burt68 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:40 am

To Quiet Voice: I haven't and wouldn't tell my daughter not to associate with my sister. Have told my sister that the most important thing is I have my own opportunity to deal with my daughter without interference from her. She thought she had all the answers, but when it backfired, she left me holding the bag of doo-doo and ran for the hills. People make mistakes. That's okay. I've made my share. But if you can't own up when you're clearly wrong and try everyway possible, to lie, deny and con - if that's who you are, I'm okay with that too. But if she's lacking in character to that degree, then she should remove herself from the equation. If she is profiting from her actions at the expense of her brother, that is wrong, just like a woman going after a married man.

Leo - As I said I gave the abbreviated version. I used the term hippie for sake of descriptive brevity, At the time of the mediation blow up, my wife and I were working with a counselor who specialized in Borderline Personality Disorder (he also did anger management too). He had helped us write a letter to my daughter that I was putting the finishing touches on. In Samantha's cognitive mind, she thought the problem was we weren't including daughter in counseling. We told her we'd love to except that was a REAL hot button. So Samantha went and told daughter. What exactly she said, we don't know, but it generated the response from daughter that put us in a bad light and pre-empted our best and last chance to communicate with daughter. We showed daughter's letter and counselor's response was "I can't imagine the anger you must have towards your sister." I replied, I have not yet told you the worst part, how my sister acted after we received the letter: Wouldn't answer the phone or emails. When she finally did, she answered "I haven't looked at my phone or emails (for the last 12 hours), what's up? She knew darn well what was up (who answers the phone that way?. She was only interested in protecting herself from blame, not helping her brother with the situation she created. I was not interested in yelling at her, in fact I realized that would be counterproductive. My focus was understanding what she did so I could put the best foot forward. I feel I am entitled to at my own shot at my relationship with my daughter without this complicating dynamic. My sister would not be doing this if she had her own family.

As far as my daughter's history, it's really not something I can distill down even in 20 minutes. The counselor thought she was a great riddle, wrapped in a mystery etc. From an early age she routinely thought there was something wrong with her, whether that was the hole between her legs, that the top of her molars was a cavity, etc. After college we found a receipt for an anti-depressant that was for people that think there is something wrong with their body parts. During college, she became paranoid that we were looking down on her and her friends. She went from planning the liturgy service to writing stick man comic strips mocking the ministers sermons in the most vile way she could think of. Coming out of her liberal arts college she had a very unrealistic view of what she was qualified for and what it takes to live. She wanted to follow the path of JK Rowling and go through hard times living on food stamps until her novels started to sell, but she's never published much of anything that we are aware of. This led to a loss of self esteem and more paranoia. And she has tried to use her LGBT status as a wedge issue.

There may be some truth to your comments on Cognitive therapy, but when you're dealing with someone who has aspects of borderline personality disorder, where everything is black and white, everyone is classified as all good or all bad, its hard to deal with. Her personality changed so quickly and we were always behind realizing the depth of what was going on. There seems to be two diametrically opposed schools of thought: either tough love + maintain distance for your sanity or apologize for everything you can think of until the person feels safe and will open up.

But the issue I'm raising here is I have all I can handle as it is without my sister opportunistically adding complications. She likes to go around stirring the pot with family members saying "so and so said this about you".
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#6

Postby burt68 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:49 am

Leo one more thing. Samantha used to lecture me that "I know you've had terrible arguments, but you have to put that behind you". I'd reply "No you don't understand, (cognitive impairment), We haven't had big arguments. Carolyn doesn't argue. She holds it in and posts it on her blog that less than a handful of people read." It's much safer because she can craft both sides to make it appear she's the reasonable and wiser one.
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#7

Postby Leo Volont » Wed Jul 03, 2019 3:14 am

Hi Burt,

Look what you are doing. You are making the Case for why you have so many problems. Now, yes, I could pretend to take sides (as I did above), but that would just be an example. You can't always expect OTHER PEOPLE to talk you down and change your mind. You have to learn to do that for yourself. You see, the problem is with YOUR taking sides, against your sister and against your daughter. They're your family, so you should be on THEIR side, right? Here is an exercise that you can try out if you feel like it. Copy and Paste everything you posted so far onto a WORD document. And then,pretending you are an advocate for your Daughter and your Sister, go in WITH A RED FONT, and critique what you wrote and write other stuff. Remember, with the RED Font, do not be YOU. Be that Other Person that does not have YOUR problems and limitations, religious or political. That reminds me. I saw that new movie about Elton John and hated it (but I really like Bernie Taupin now, you know, the guy that wrote the lyrics), but there was one memorable scene in the movie, from the Cognitive Behavioral perspective. this Negro Rhythm and Blues performer was talking about the Secret of becoming an Artist: "You have to take the person you were born to be and kill him before you can become the person you want to be". Burt, you can be stuck with who you are, or you can create a New Self. Once you know you have a choice then it will begin to occur to you that you have been accepting a lot of stuff from yourself which you never would have 'Special Ordered'. If you had to pay $10 for every Thought in your Head, or Word from your Mouth, I am pretty sure you wouldn't think it such a great deal. You would expect more and better, right? Now, yeah, for many of us who have gone through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, there come a point when you need to ask "What is My Ideal?" Every day you try for some incremental improvement.

Oh, this really isn't an anger issue,and so I have to sort of extrapolate. But, yeah, in the typical Anger Management Scenario, people would do sort of what you have done, and they would present the reasons why they got so angry. Yeah, it doesn't help that half the Anger Management 'Experts' out there are saying that "Anger is Perfectly Natural" (they could say the same thing about rape and murder, so you have to wonder what their point is. Being Natural is no excuse to ever permit anything that will be HARMFUL), but what I try to get People to focus on is that HAVING RATIONALS AND JUSTIFICATIONS FOR COUNTERPRODUCTIIVE BEHAVIORS IS NOT A GOOD REASON TO ENGAGE IN THEM. It is like "I robbed the bank because I was short on my rent". "I punched the cop because he should have called me "sir"". "I forced that Buick into the ditch because he cut in front of me without signalling". Can you see my point? The Actions People Take Do Not Follow From their Justifications. Try these instead: "I was short of my rent and so I hocked my watch, guitar, surfboard and camera". "the cop did not call me 'sir' and so I thought he wanted to push me into a confrontation, beat me up and arrest me, so I geared myself way down, bowed my head, averted my eyes and hoped if I showed enough fear he'd move on to abusing somebody else." "some Buick swooped past to me on my Left and then swung into my lane and I had to pump my brakes to let him in. Wow! He must really have been late to work or something!" You see, Burt, our Justifications are really Excuses. Our Justifications do not Strictly Determine our Course of Action. We can do what we have Always Done, or we can think of something new and better. Oh! That is the Behavioral Part of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. In addition to monitoring our THOUGHTS for Counterproductivity, we are also supposed to monitor our Habitual Behaviors for those that just get us into trouble all the time.

Oh, Burt, you seem really good at pulling together these Stories of Self Justification. Why is that? It seems like you have had practice at it. Did your Therapist actually TRAIN YOU in this skill? (I can imagine it: "Burt, open up and tell us what you think. Tell us what you feel . We're here to listen." And so you would lay out your case and be REWARDED for it, with attention and positive feedback.) That is the difference between Psychoanalysis or Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, that THEY Reward Counterproductive thinking and feeling, where CBT would shake their Heads and Roll their Eyes if you went on and on like that. But, yeah, I'm curious about this Skill you have developed. Building Cases. But, yes, Burt, you got to take it from the Dark Side and use it for the Light. The Cross you Bear is of Your Own Creation. You might have to learn to think more Creatively in order to be happy with your Life and the people you share it with.
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#8

Postby burt68 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:32 am

Okay I will take your suggestion and research cognitive therapy, but I’m not sure if you’re saying it will solve relationship problems with daughter, sister, resentment or all the above. My daughter has cut off herself off from most of the family, old friends and much of society so I’m not sure I can move to the acceptable side from her standpoint.

As far as creating a case, I consider that I have a long standing trait that I am a good debater who anticipates the other side and has a pre-prepared argument at the ready. I probably look at it as a chess game. However with my daughter I did have to learn to stop thinking, if I could only try x I could break the code. Working in a vacuum you can drive yourself crazy with theories.

I don’t like it in other people when they say “but my intentions were good” as shield or justification for doing counterproductive things. So I hope I’m not doing that.
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#9

Postby quietvoice » Wed Jul 03, 2019 11:20 am

burt68 wrote:I haven't and wouldn't tell my daughter not to associate with my sister. Have told my sister that the most important thing is I have my own opportunity to deal with my daughter without interference from her.

You don't own your daughter (there's nothing for you to "deal with"). You had your time with her when she was legally under your control. Now that she is not, it's time to let her fly. Of course, there is grief in "losing" something that you hold dearly to your heart. "Deal" with your grief, not your daughter.

burt68 wrote:But if you can't own up when you're clearly wrong and try everyway possible, to lie, deny and con - if that's who you are, I'm okay with that too. But if she's lacking in character to that degree, then she should remove herself from the equation. If she is profiting from her actions at the expense of her brother, that is wrong, just like a woman going after a married man.

Learn that "what should be" isn't what is. Look at current reality as it is, not as you have prejudged that it should be. Take different perspectives in that looking. Find the one that resonates with your heart, with feeling good. I can guarantee you that if you feel awful about something outside of yourself, you're not aligning with your heart. The heart always loves and accepts that things are as they are. Not that things can't change at the next moment, but that acceptance is the first step to moving past a perceived hurt.

P.S. Any married man that is receiving and entertaining attentions from another woman is not so married in his heart. It's about him, not the woman.


burt68 wrote:We haven't had big arguments. Carolyn doesn't argue. She holds it in and posts it on her blog that less than a handful of people read.

burt68 wrote:As far as creating a case, I consider that I have a long standing trait that I am a good debater who anticipates the other side and has a pre-prepared argument at the ready. I probably look at it as a chess game. However with my daughter I did have to learn to stop thinking, if I could only try x I could break the code. Working in a vacuum you can drive yourself crazy with theories.

She doesn't argue, because she learned early on that she's not going to win with you. She knows that you don't listen to her. Deep listening without judgement is the key to effective communication.
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#10

Postby burt68 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:46 pm

Yes my older daughter used to tell me I wasn’t listening. So I told her what I thought she was trying to tell me and asked did I get it right? Then I asked her to tell me what my position was. She couldn’t answer. I asked who’s not listening. Her attitude was if you’re not giving me what I want ($ for x) then you’re obviously not listening to me. These claims are easy to make but it doesn’t make them true.

I don’t own my daughter. I let her fly. When she said don’t contact her I didn’t. We and the rest of the family are back in now. Was it anything we did? No. It was that she didn’t want to explain to her fiancé and in-laws why her family aren’t at the wedding. It was easy to maintain the facade when it was a unilateral relationship.

Maybe you think the past behavior of cordial visits followed by “Don't contact me” is normal behavior. Her comic strips where she drew a stick man called the minister a “f***ing f*****r of a ****” disturbed me and didn’t match the person I used to know Would they disturb you? Likewise her blog seemed to me a person who was troubled.

But I guess if it was your child, you’d just look the other way?
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#11

Postby burt68 » Wed Jul 03, 2019 1:57 pm

Oh yeah and then there was the time we drove 500 miles to see her at Xmas time. Had a pleasant visit and gave her money to help dig her out of a hole. Came back and she’d written a blog on why would she bother seeing people at Xmas that she wouldn’t say two words to the rest of the year? Then she wondered why we didn’t see her the following summer. I may not own her but I care about her well being and our relationship. Have you dealt with borderline personalities?
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#12

Postby quietvoice » Wed Jul 03, 2019 2:26 pm

burt68 wrote: It was that she didn’t want to explain to her fiancé and in-laws why her family aren’t at the wedding.

Interesting.

So, you're not going, right? Because if you do, you'll be playing into her keeping up with the facade, a facade which will fade away sooner or later.

burt68 wrote:But I guess if it was your child, you’d just look the other way?

She's an adult making her choices. What don't you get?

burt68 wrote: Then she wondered why we didn’t see her the following summer.

You're too emotionally invested in this person. It keeps you from experiencing your own peace of mind. Why not let it go? What another person thinks is none of your business.

I'm sure you can find other pursuits that will be better suited for your well being. You aren't going to change her but by example, if she chooses to see.

burt68 wrote:I'm not trying to be argumentative

Great.

How about practicing some daily meditation?
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#13

Postby burt68 » Thu Jul 04, 2019 12:45 pm

Quietvoice: I'll try to make it simple. You own slaves. My daughter is not my slave. We have a relationship. I am responsible for half of that relationship. I do not need grief counseling at the moment because the relationship is back on track at this time People tend to get emotionally invested in their children. Get over it. I believe in something called reconciliation under certain circumstances. Time will tell how the relationship will evolve.

I wasn't asking for your input on how to deal with my daughter. As I said it would take an extended period of time and from what I see, you tend to oversimply matters. Please go provide advice to someone else.
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#14

Postby quietvoice » Thu Jul 04, 2019 1:35 pm

burt68 wrote: I'll try to make it simple. You own slaves. My daughter is not my slave. We have a relationship. I am responsible for half of that relationship. I do not need grief counseling at the moment because the relationship is back on track at this time People tend to get emotionally invested in their children. Get over it. I believe in something called reconciliation under certain circumstances. Time will tell how the relationship will evolve.

Awesome. Glad you've got it figured out.

burt68 wrote:I wasn't asking for your input on how to deal with my daughter.

[Samantha this, Samantha that . . .]Any advice on how I can deal with this and stop smoldering?

No, you didn't ask how to "deal" with your daughter. You asked how to deal with your sister who is grabbing the attentions of your daughter.

Would you care at all about Samantha if it didn't involve your most 'precious' [feelings about your daughter]?
According to your descriptions, Samantha interferes with how your daughter "ought" to be acting.
Are you saying that your daughter has no say in how she acts, that all of the "blame" for your discomfort of the situation goes to Samantha?


burt68 wrote:and from what I see, you tend to oversimply matters.

Life is simple. Humans, in their minds, make it complicated. Answers are simple; habits and conditioning interfere with simplicity.

We are stuck in what happened in the past; we use the past as an excuse that what we see today is not what we want to see. We fantasize about the future; we use that fantasy to not see the wonderous moment we are experiencing right now.


burt68 wrote:Any advice on how I can deal with this and stop smoldering?

quietvoice wrote:How about practicing some daily meditation?
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