Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Non-Empathetic Text

Speaking of people who steal our joy... One of my sisters really hurt my feelings last week. I hate that I'm still thinking about it, but, well, I am.

She's not known for being sensitive. In fact, she's been quite mean over the last decade. Ok, if I'm being honest, she hasn't really been nice for the past couple of decades. It breaks my heart because she was so important to me for the first fifteen years of my life.

She's pretty demanding. If she calls, she expects me to answer. She still sounds bitter that I would put my phone on "Do Not Disturb" while I was studying in grad school FOUR years ago. 

(At the time, I told her that grad school was hard and I needed to concentrate. She actually said that grad school wasn't hard for me, that grad school was hard for her because she was also raising a kid at the same time. !!! I honestly ripped into her and said that I wouldn't even be in grad school if I had gotten to have my children. We didn't talk for several months after that.)

Last week, I was napping. After my second vaccine dose. So, obviously, I didn't answer her call. She sent me a text: "I just got your voicemail... So I don't know if it's a connection problem with your phone or you just didn't want to answer."

I promise I try not to read too much into text messages. But still. That tone.

I texted her back when I woke up. No response.
I texted her the next day. No response. 

She wrote back on the third day saying she couldn't send me photos to my phone. She also said she knew "it was infertility day the other day... And I thought of you." (I think she was thinking of National Infertility Awareness Week.) I texted back and said that it was a bummer I wasn't receiving the pictures she sent. I also wrote, "And thank you for thinking of me. Never thought I'd have to live through my worst nightmare but I did." She wrote back, "We all do."

It just hit me wrong.
I didn't like reading that.

I think if you're going to try to extend empathy to someone, especially regarding such an emotionally-charged subject, you should refrain from making it about yourself.

I probably should have just let it go but I wrote back, "Well I didn't want to live through it but I did." And she wrote back, "Me neither."


So, in an effort to quit dragging out what was starting to feel like a competition I wrote, "Yeah... We are so strong. Even if we don't want to be. We just can't help it."

So, that's her effort when she's thinking of me I guess. From now on, I will just say "thank you" and not engage in conversation about infertility with her. I hate to say I'm being too sensitive because our feelings are our feelings but... If you felt similarly when you read her comments, any validation is appreciated. If you have a different perspective, sharing that is appreciated too!

Again, I know it's important not to read too much into anything sent over text. I'm a big believer that important conversation topics should not be addressed in this format anyway. But dang, it just really hurt my feelings.

She'll never get it.


  1. Dear Phoenix,
    I know... it hurts.
    What I've learnt over the last 18 years of my infertility is:
    - I never discuss difficult subjects via text or social media messengers.
    - with some people it is just safer not to talk about certain difficult topics.
    sending you a big hug from Europe.

    1. Agreed!! I very much agree with the two points you've learned over the last 18 years.

      Thank you Klara. <3

  2. I am not one to avoid a situation that bothers me, it has gotten mixed results but in the end I often am glad I spoke my mind. In similar situations I have asked if it was intended to hurt me with their pointed remarks? One persons pain does not diminish ones own is not like cake. She will I am sure feel defensive, a decade is too long to carry that hurt...and her not carry any of the responsibility of the burden she imposed.
    When I first read the responses, I read them as her defending you:
    "Well I didn't want to live through it but I did." And she wrote back, "Me neither." as in SHE didn't want you to have to live through it too...from a point of empathy...but I think her discomfort after all this time has left her with a strange level of sarcasm and apathy. I am sorry...sibling relationships are hard, but I think you are so strong and deserve to unload your burden. Forgive me if I have overstepped in my opinion...I am defensive of my IF sisterhood and am always ready to go to bat for them.

    1. No, no you did not overstep in giving your opinion. I asked for opinions! Sometimes it is helpful to see things from a different perspective, so I thank you very much for your comment.

      I am getting better at directly addressing things that bother me, but I still hesitate with this sister. She can be combative and I am the only woman in our immediate family that she has not attacked, but that is another sad topic altogether. I don't know if it's the best plan of action, but I just kind of avoid any type of confrontation with her.

      But thank you for offering a different perspective! Maybe she did mean "Me neither" as in she also didn't want me to have to live through my worst nightmare. It is possible she meant that. Overall, it is probably best if I just ask her what she meant, but, honestly, I probably won't. But I do think you are on to something about her discomfort leading to her strange sarcasm and apathy. She has been so unhappy for so long, although I think (hope!) things are starting to change for her for the better which is good.

      " is not like cake." Lol! So true!!

      Thank you Barreness. I really appreciate your comment. <3

  3. Ugh. Unfortunately, she sounds like sunshine who totally minimizes others' feelings and makes everything about her, so I would have felt similarly about her texts. I am constantly having invisible, pretend fights with primer in my mind though so maybe I'm not the best sounding board? Like, if someone ends a text with a period I'll overthink the possibility that they are angry. Her answers sounds terse and narcissistic to me though.

    Also, to validate you... I don't answer my phone ALL THE TIME. I keep it on silent ALL THE TIME so it is not distracting, and when I want to have uninterrupted time to do something without feeling the need to jump every time there is a sound. That is a perfectly fine thing to do. How interesting that you sister takes it as a personal slight when she can't immediately get you at her beck and call.

    Sending you a hug, and I love Klara's advice. Text communication sucks. 😘💕

    1. Lol! I think you meant "someone" but it autocorrected to "sunshine" which makes your second sentence sound very humorous to me. Hahaha.

      Yes, I'm afraid you hit the nail on the head. Minimizes others' feelings, makes everything about her, terse, and narcissistic. She actually said to me sometime in the last couple of years that everything is easy for me and I've had no problems in my life. Who SAYS that?? Everyone, no matter how small, has problems...

      Thanks for the validation. I'm not a fan of this 24/7 mentality that's emerged over the last decade. I am not always available to an employer or my loved ones. Sometimes I am, oh I don't know, sleeping... Or reading or sewing.

      Overall, texting sucks for anything serious. It's just for a quick Hello or sharing jokes and memes.

      From one sensitive soul to another, thank you Jess. <3

  4. It wasn't just you reacting that way!

    Jody Day of Gateway Women has a great saying that came to mind when I read this: We need to stop going to the hardware store for milk, lol. Some people are just never going to get it!

    1. Oh that's a good one!! I will definitely have to remember that. Quit going to the hardware store for milk lol. :)

  5. She sounds like one of these people who needs to know that not everything is about her! To feel slighted that you didn't answer the phone is just ridiculous, and shows she really has some insecurities that she needs to confront.

    I'm also not a fan of 24/7 connectivity. We're talking about getting rid of our landline. But that means when we leave our house I'll still be contactable! I don't really like that. Even though just about everyone has my mobile number now. Sigh.

    1. It's weird how we can technically be connected 24/7, but yet, in some ways everyone in society feels disconnected.

      My sister and I have exchanged some conversational texts since this post. That seems to be working for us for now. <3