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I’m the youngest child out of three and I’ve felt passive and alone most of the time since I was a kid. My oldest siblings were and are closer to each other (now even physically since I’m abroad). This feeling of not being seen or not fitting in with others has always been there and due to moving to different locations I don’t have a big social circle which I really miss.

Unlike me, my brother and sister have never moved and have lifelong friends. I’ve left my home country as an adult some years ago and during one of my visits back home my brother had a party. As soon as one of their closest friends arrived she saw me and commented: “oh! I’d forgotten you had another sister!” This hit me so deeply, as someone had verbalized all those feelings of being invisible that I’ve had all my life.

I’ve noticed that people do talk up about me and admire my lifestyle/achievements but never really have conversations with me or reach out to see how I’m doing unless they need something. I try to build connections by keeping in touch and doing nice things as much as I can but I end up nowhere after a while because I find it’s all one way.

The current situation

My parents were recently visiting me and during their visit my siblings would call regularly to talk to them. I also burned my hand while trying to serve my parents which kept me off work for weeks and my siblings were asking about that as well during the parents visit. However, the contact has completely diminished since they’ve returned.

I went out of my way to buy some presents for my brother, his wife and his son, and I would have liked if they acknowledged and thanked for receiving it. But as I say they haven’t even texted me once since my parents returned.

Similar things have happened before (including my sister forgetting my birthday for weeks) and I’ve happened to nag to my mother about that where she’s then probably hinted it to my siblings so they’ve then called me which had no value to me anymore.

I know I shouldn’t have expectations for giving presents to people but a simple “thank you” or even “how are you doing?” doesn’t cost much.

Question

I don’t want to victimize myself and want to stop feeling ignored and invisible if I can. I want to ring up my brother and ask if they got the presents. But, how to approach it so that I make my point without sounding nasty or passive-aggressive?

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Neeku, I totally understand your feelings. I have been basically in the same position as you (except I only have 1 sibling, an older brother).

There seems to be two issues you mention:

One is not getting a thank you about the presents you send to your nephew. The only "solution" is to actually be brave and politely ask either your brother or sister-in-law (whomever you feel safest with dealing with). If it feels safer or is just easier for you, you can just text a simple

Hey! I was wondering if [name] liked the present I sent him. Did he?

(This is what I wound up doing, since I get very nervous talking.) Avoid anything that sounds like you're angry. If they're smart, they will get the message that someone should have said something (like thank you), if they're not, you may at least get an acknowledgment that he received it.

I was lucky, at least temporarily... my brother let me know the presents had been received and liked. Unfortunately, after a while, I stopped receiving any messages about the presents I sent, so I decided to just accept that that's the way they are, and to not take it personally.


The other issue is the invisibility factor.

That, unfortunately, is not as easily answered. In the case of your siblings, it might help to send them texts or letters saying you wished you all could be closer, and suggest - and follow through on your part, even if it means making the next move - that you contact each other in some way at least once a month.

This could be successful (at least at first - as it was in my case), or it could fall flat. It's a risk you'd have to decide whether you want to take or not. Same for actually contacting them and actually saying that you are hurt by them not seeming to care about how you're doing.

If you do that, you have to be prepared for people getting upset. Including yourself.

I actually wrote a letter expressing my feelings, saying that I knew I wasn't too good at keeping in touch, but I hoped that, by us making an effort, we could reconnect. Once again, it worked for a while, but eventually went back to very rare contact. I am, though, now on his end-of-year "newsletter," so I find out some things he and his family have been doing that way. I must admit, I am partly at fault, since my own attempt at writing or texting slacked off as time went on. I guess it proves relationships take both sides to continue.


As for any other people you feel ignored by or just invisible, unless you're willing to be aggressive in approaching others and making immediate plans with them, nothing will change. And, the aggressive approach, although not a bad one, does have the risk of having your suggestion to get together rejected.

Once again, it's a risk, and your decision if you chose to or not to do anything.

My experience? I'm still working on it, I have made some headway by joining some groups. It does help to make me feel less alone, and I at least have some people in my new development (I moved to another state a bit over two years ago) I can connect with and am working on turning into friends.

The "simplest" (ha!) thing would be to just take a big breath and try to just accept that it is what it is and live the rest of your life as best as you can.

Find as many activities as you can that you enjoy, and do them. Maybe even volunteer somewhere. You never know - you might one day be surprised to find you've made some good friends (or at least feel good about yourself for making your life as fulfilling as possible).

Even though I am attempting to reach out and make friends, I am trying to listen to my own advice and accept whatever happens without letting it hurt my feelings. As they say, people can only hurt you emotionally if you allow them to.

Good luck!

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