DEAR HARRIETTE: I am one of four sisters in my family. I am the second youngest. My baby sister and I have always had an intense sibling rivalry, mostly on her end. She is manipulative, competitive and undermining. Despite our rivalry, I have always been closest to her because we are 20 months apart and now live in the same city. Recently, we got into a huge argument and have not spoken for four months. When we get into arguments, I am always the one to apologize. This time, however, I feel I have done nothing wrong and do not believe I owe her an apology. I'm tired of being the bigger person. I miss her presence and the comfort of having a sister, but I do not miss her toxicity. How do I tell her that while I do miss her and want her to be in my life, I can no longer deal with her catty ways? -- Sister, Sister, San Diego
DEAR SISTER, SISTER: You must remind yourself that you are a grown woman with the ability to make your own decisions free of your past. This is essential, because you and your sister remain locked into old family patterns. In order to have a healthy relationship with each other, you both have to choose to be adults in your communication. Resist the temptation to fall back on old ways of interacting.
Rather than offering an apology, request a meeting with your sister where you talk about starting over and letting go of the past. Do not blame each other for anything. Instead, tell your sister that you miss her and want her in your life. Ask her to work with you to establish more stable, respectful footing where you can thrive together. It will take time to develop new patterns, but it is possible with patience and love.