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Non-sister trying to stabilize relationship with HPD?

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Non-sister trying to stabilize relationship with HPD?

Postby cinnamondonuts » Tue Jul 23, 2019 3:02 am

Hi- I'm new here and hoping this forum might be able to help me stabilize my relationship with my sister.

First I am not sure if she is HPD. Some of the things I have read seem uncanny to her personality. She has always needed to be the center of attention. Times where I naturally must be the center of attention she does everything she can to bring it back to her(my wedding- her maid of honor speech was all about her and then after words she demanded to be told it was the best; very sick with whooping couch- my mom gave me the master to sleep in and she got really angry said she was sick and insisted sleeping in the bedroom , pregnancy announcement- the next few days she suddenly had all of the same symptoms I did but a little worse) This part mostly just amuses me because I actually dislike being the center or attention, so I'm happy to give her the floor. Other elements I recognize are overestimating the intimacy of relationships, a never satisfied need for contact and connection, blaming others, overly expressive language. However she does not dress provocatively and I couldn't imagine her cheating. I feel like generally she uses other avenues rather than sex to gain attention. Also while she will often experience a falling out with a friend or boyfriend or colleague within a year, she also has great devoted friendships as well. She also seems to project at a extreme level and aggressively asserts herself into my space (like exclusively using my favorite coffee cup while she visits) So I'm not sure if she is HPD.

That said maintaining a relationship her with is extremely taxing. I love her. I think she is an amazing charismatic competent person. As my uncle would say, "she's difficult, but she's worth it." The thing I struggle with most is the extreme anger that bursts out over little things. She recently visited me and my family because I just gave birth to a little girl. She became frustrated with me because the baby was fussing in her lap and she wanted advice on how to sooth her. This was strange because she was a nanny for years and knows as well as I do ways to sooth a baby. I started to explain to her that the baby was overtired because she took too short of a nap, but wasn't ready for her next one. I kept getting distracted because my sister kept interrupting me to tell me that was not what she wanted to hear (she wanted concrete advice) and my three year old was having a melt down and my baby was fussing. I swooped up the baby to comfort her. My sister got so angry about this (storming rage- yelling leaving the house) and brought it up many times how I took her away without permission. She doesn't seem to be able to see how a post partum mom, under multiple stressors, might not be able to think through the process and ask permission to take the baby. I also could not convince her that it wasn't personal, that I wasn't trying to make her feel incompetent with the baby. She saw my behavior as thoughtless.

The rage is always so close to the surface that the smallest thing triggers it. I feel like I have to work very hard to not slip up and then I get fed up or something gets completely misinterpreted. She alludes to how I have intensely hurt her in the past... but I don't know what she is talking about. The worst I can think of is the fact that I was pretty absent during our parent's divorce (1st year of college) and that as an introvert I have never given her even a 1/4 of the attention she wanted when we were growing up. But if you heard her talk you would think I was abusive. Meanwhile when she gets angry she goes in for the kill- targeting my parenting, passing judgement on my kids, telling me I make everyone in my life miserable.

I can see how it must be so easy to just vent in these forums, but I really want to have a functional relationship with her and after looking on line all I could find was advice on establishing boundaries and preventing abuse. I already tend toward protecting myself through distancing and I want to be able to do better than that, because I know how much distancing can hurt her.
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Re: Non-sister trying to stabilize relationship with HPD?

Postby xdude » Tue Jul 23, 2019 5:45 pm

Just my own personal thoughts, from my experiences, not facts...

Could be she is somewhere is on the HPD scale, but would you be willing to take the risk of saying you always make it all about you? If you do, she may turn off, at least for a while.
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Re: Non-sister trying to stabilize relationship with HPD?

Postby cinnamondonuts » Tue Jul 23, 2019 6:48 pm

Thank you for your response... since joining and exploring the threads the forum seems a bit quiet so I appreciate you taking the time.

So in extreme cases that has worked, because she knows she has crossed a line

- after a melt down at my wedding, I decided to email her an tell her I was afraid to have her around after the birth of my first baby because I would need the focus and attention from my support system (my husband and mom) and I wouldn't be able to handle her trying to take it for herself or getting angry at these people for their focus on me and the newborn. She chilled out for a while after that and was extremely helpful when she did visit.

- she also had minor improvement after a disastrous conversation where she interrupted my telling of my miscarriage for a long monologue about her friends difficult birth, followed by her yelling at me for interrupting her and then more yelling for making her feel bad when I called her out for the inappropriateness of interrupting a sensitive story.

But generally this kind of statement would be met with projection. She's not the one who makes all about her, I'm the one who is selfish and self centered, and I am always trying to make her feel bad. I guess that becomes the crux of the issue is that confronting her with her behavior is viewed as an attack. I also know that she is highly reactive to me and my mom. Her oldest friends seems to be able gently rib her for her behavior, without being attacked and dismissed.

The more I read in this forum and reflect on this the more I wonder if I can do anything besides establish my boundaries and forcing myself out of my own comfort zone to provide a bit more proactive attention. I have thought about reaching out to our common friends to see what they think and maybe see if they would gently confront her. But that seems like a betrayal... If she knew she might drop her friend and me and lose essential parts of her support system. My mom decided this week to go into therapy to help find ways to deal with this situation better. My sister has mentioned that she thought therapy is helpful but doesn't want to engage with it right now because she just wants to move on from the issues rather than dig up the hurt (and I imagine therapy would not touch these behavior issues for a while because of the deep hurt caused by my parents divorce and my dad's death)

So I think maybe I will try to work on boundaries and ways that I can give her positive attention.
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Re: Non-sister trying to stabilize relationship with HPD?

Postby xdude » Fri Jul 26, 2019 10:29 am

Yes, and I know it sucks as answer, but you got it. If she really does have HPD, it's up to her to come to a point of wanting to introspect about herself. All you can do is set boundaries moment to moment, but hopefully those occasional talks about when she crossed your lines will help long term (sadly it might not, but it's all you can do).

For whatever it's worth, just a personal belief, but it does seem that the first criteria for HPD is really key to understanding it. Uncomfortable when not the center of attention. It's a good word, uncomfortable. The individual motives could be different, but it does seem whatever the motives, it's the trigger. Motives could be anything from 'I feel like I don't exist', 'I am angry someone else is the center', 'I don't know what to do, I should do something', 'I am bored, would rather talk about me', etc., but whatever the motives, as you continue to get better at picking up on the trigger earlier, you'll be able to set boundaries sooner.

p.s. Also for whatever it's worth, if she really has HPD then it runs deeper than simply a matter of willpower, and intellect. Yea, she may really need that therapy, but like everyone else, it won't do any good until she is ready.
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