Since I am in the midst of an ongoing triangle between my mother and my sister and myself, as well as sibling rivalry, I thought that writing about it might help me a bit.
I am the older of two daughters and now age 62; my sister is 60. We are so lucky to have our mother at age 92 and she is in great health and doing well. The problem we have goes back years and years. My mother and sister have been extremely close since I was a young child. Some of this stemmed from my sister being quite shy, and my mother attempted to be very protective of her and her fairly sensitive feelings. I was the out-going overachiever and was independent. My father was always concerned that my mother overly-protected my sister and kept her from learning to overcome her shyness so that it did not interfere with friendships and other opportunities in her life.
We are of course all grown up now and the pattern of closeness between my mother and sister has perpetuated. My sister has a good life, has had the same job for 35 years, and is happily married without children. Their close relationship has helped my mother especially since she is a now widow, because my sister spends several hours a day with her, since she lives only about 15 minutes away, while I am 2 hours away.
The pattern that has kept me from having a good relationship with my sister goes something like this. Whenever my sister or my mother wish to do something that they expect I may not support, they both use guilt to try to get me to do what they wish. My sister typically does not say that she herself wants something, but instead says that it is my mother's wish. So when I may not wish to go along with the suggestion for understandable reasons, my sister will say something like "mother has never asked you for any favors and this means so much to her, why don't you rethink this." We are in the middle of such an issue and both of them are using this approach to use guilt to get me to change my mind. My mother even said "if you don't agree to do such and such, then maybe I should just not come".
I could give you countless examples of this same scenario. Once it becomes clear that I want to do something that will not be supported by one or both of them, it is only a matter of time before the tension begins as well as their statements used to evoke my guilt.
Now, through all of this, I am not perfect of course. It hurts my feelings and frustrates me that regardless of my point of view, my mother will ALWAYS side with my sister. I am not exaggerating when I say that were I to say that the sky is blue and my sister says it is kelly green, my mother will agree with my sister that the sky is green. Actually, I don't think my mother knows where she stops and my sister begins or vice versa - blending of boundaries.
The sad thing about this is that I cannot have a nice adult relationship with my sister, because there is always this undercurrent of jealousy and hurt. She is a wonderful loving person, except where I am concerned.
I have brought this to my mother's attention in the past and asked her to be more balanced in how she deals with my sister and me. She denies that there is this close alliance between my sister and herself. Other family members are aware of this and their differences with me.
I wonder what will happen after my mother is gone - will we be able to relate to each other as individuals or will all the hurt from past years still negatively impact our relationship.
In writing this, I see that I bear some responsibility for not making it important to sit down with my sister and have a long talk about this. I feel, though, like it would be a very emotional exchange and that she will deny that the nature of their relationship has shortchanged my relationship with each of them.
One suggestion I have to help ease the tension, is that I just start calling my sister every couple of days for no particular reason, other than to say "Hi, how are you". Most of our exchange currently is about my mother, but maybe by calling her about nothing in particular it could help take the tension away. My sister rarely if ever calls me on the phone.
I know I haven't given real specific examples of what we argue about, but hopefully you can see how we are having trouble.