*Edited by AGR to remove needless apology for processing feelings and post length!! Good grief, Sassy – That is what this blog is for!!!! :-P*
For the past year, I have agonized over my relationship with my sister. It’s just the two of us now. Our grandparents and parents are all deceased leaving just me and her. We are both married and she has two grown children…I have a dog.
My sister and I are almost 12 years apart with her being the older sibling. My mom had two children between the two of us but both died shortly after childbirth. My parents did not raise us to be close. I remember next to nothing of my childhood until I was 6 or 7 years old and by that time, my sister was moving out of the house to get away from our father. I saw very little of my sister once she moved out and that was about 40 years ago.
As I said, the last year I have really been thinking about ways to better my relationship with my sister. The only times we’ve ever spent together were on a few holidays for only a few hours at a time or when my mom passed away for maybe a couple of days at a time. I’ve always felt a sister-shaped emptiness in my heart though it’s been more pronounced after the loss of our parents.
I’ve made my gestures in the past year to try and get my sister to visit, to write or call. Most of those invitations have been ignored or refused. I’ve continued to do this up until this past weekend.
My niece, my sister’s daughter, graduated with a Masters from a fairly prestigious school this past weekend. My husband and I were invited but I now suspect it was more for show than as a true invitation. If you think I’ve seen my sister rarely, hearing from my niece is even more rare.
I got the invitation in the mail and almost threw it away but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I would go to the graduation. The graduation was 2 hours away from home so I made a reservation at a hotel and decided to make it a mini-vacation for me and hubby. We arrived on Friday night and I emailed my niece to give her my cell phone number so she could contact me if she or my sister needed to. I heard nothing from the family until I saw them walking up at the graduation on Saturday. Even then, no “I’m glad you came. I’m glad to see you.” Nothing.
As we were leaving after the graduation my brother-in-law said he would like for us to get together later that evening so we did. We ate dinner and then walked through downtown and enjoyed some live music. It was a fun night but nothing earth shattering. As a matter of fact, after spending the evening with them, I’ve decided I really don’t care for my sister as a person. Seeing her once every four to six years may be about right for me.
Being with my sister was a very emotional experience for me and one I’m still mulling over in my head and heart.
If you had been with us that night, you would have been able to tell that we were definitely raised by the same parents. We both seem to put off this air of insecurity masked by legalism and judgmentalism.
I don’t know if anyone else can see it but I can see the abuse she has suffered in her face. I wonder if people see that in my face as well. Something else I could see in her face…distrust. She was closed off and very careful of her words and conversation. I may not be very guarded of my language but I do tend to use humor to diffuse serious situations or when trust might be an issue.
From the outside, my sister looks like this to me:
- She looks old beyond her years – wrinkles, harsh complexion, thin and worn.
- She crosses her arms a lot when she talks leading me to believe that she is being cautious about being around people.
- She looks away from me when I’m talking to her as if she might have a secret or she may have something she would like to tell me but decides not to.
- She smokes like a freaking freight train, one right after the other.
- She drinks to get drunk and to numb the pain within.
- Her daughter doesn’t respect her the way she should and her husband “sides with” the daughter whenever a chance arises.
- She is obsessed with thinness and will starve herself to wear a certain size and then tell me to not eat too so I can lose weight.
When I type all this out it seems to haunt me even more. Part of me says I don’t want to be a part of this person’s life because she doesn’t seem to want me in hers and part of me says we are so much alike it’s unreal. We may cope in different ways with the pain and sadness of our pasts but we have the same past. We have something that only the two of us can relate to.
When I look at her I see me! I don’t want to see me! But I’m drawn to her and want a relationship with her because only she understands why I feel the way I do…why I act the way I act…why I believe the way I believe.
I want to treat her as I would want someone to treat me – with compassion, with honesty, trust and love – but she doesn’t want it.
Having said all that and gotten it out of my system I also realize that I want compassion, honesty, trust and love from my sister but she is not able to give it. She never has been able to give it and until she gets some help, she won’t ever be able to give it – to me, to herself or to anyone else. I’m wanting something from my sister that she is unable to provide. My expectations from her are too much.
A call once a year, maybe an occassional email, those may be the only things I ever get from my sister. Maybe that’s all she can give. It’s time to move on and work on me for me. Dwelling on wanting a relationship with my sister is a waste of time and there are so many other wonderful things in my life that I can cultivate if I’m not devoting time to a lost cause.
I think I grew emotionally this weekend and typing all this out helped me tremendously. The visit with my sister taught me that I have so much to be grateful for. I am NOT my sister and although our pasts are the same in many respects, I have taken different roads than her and have sought help and support from outside sources (which I don’t believe she has).
Although I’m no expert on self worth and self love, it was apparent to me that I am leaps and bounds ahead of her on those issues. I don’t NEED a relationship with a person (even though she is my sister) if she is going to end up being toxic to my recovery anyway. I feel that her compulsive/obsessive behaviors would only have me sliding backwards and I’m not prepared for that.
Who’s to say that in a few years she might see the need to have a relationship with me and if she does, I’ll be willing to try. Until then, I am my priority and I’m just fine without her in my life.
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