April 17, 2012

Sister

Sometimes it deeply saddens me that the relationship I have with my sister is pretty nonexistent. And then when I feel this sadness, I sort of find myself swimming in it.

It shouldn’t be like this. But it is and, really, it kind of always has been.

I have memories of us as children- both before and after our parents’ split when I was 9- but I honestly cannot remember one time when my sister and I got along, when she wasn’t upset with me or picking on me or all-out hating me (“You’re the reason why I don’t like kids!” she screamed to me on more than one occasion growing up. And while she has three of her own {and one grandchild}, she’s been known to admit that she doesn’t like other kids from time to time and believe you me, it shows and kids can sense it.). Instead my memories are ones where she’s always annoyed and bothered with me because she was forced to watch me a lot since she’s 7 years older than me.

As an adult I absolutely can understand where she was coming from back then. It really wasn’t fair that a teenager be made to constantly watch after her younger sibling. I was her sister, not her daughter. But, on the other hand, it wasn’t my fault that my parents chose to not be available; it wasn’t my fault that she was born 7 years before me to a teen mom who wasn’t anywhere ready to be a mom. 

I’ve tried to let all of this go. I’ve written briefly about my past with her before, but for the most part I don’t go there because… well, what’s the point? I can’t change the past and I can’t change people.  It is what is and I really thought I moved on.

But then something happens that brings me back, that smacks me in the face to our reality: we’re sisters who have no relationship. We’re probably less engaged than strangers in the supermarket.

And that’s incredibly sad to me.

Saturday, while visiting my mom and grandmother (Oma), I happened to see my sister for the first time since early January when she showed up near the end of Lovie’s birthday party. And when Lovie noticed my sister walking into the living room where Oma sat, she quickly tucked her chin into her chest and walked away from her and toward me. Lovie avoided my sister the entire time. I’ve never seen her do this to anyone but, as my sister even said, “she don’t know me.”

No, she doesn’t know you! I shouted in my head. And you’re her aunt, for fuck’s sake! But my mouth never opened to speak any words- not even a Hello. I just don’t know what to say around her that wouldn't sound completely dumb or rude.

Fortunately, Oma was very happy to see my sister. And gathered by the envelopes sitting next to my sister at one point during the visit- envelopes with names scribbled in Oma’s shaky handwriting in the corner of them that she gives out at Christmas- she hadn’t been there since some time last year.

Pathetic.

Oma was glowing. She lights up and gets so happy when she sees Lovie, but seeing my sister really was a big surprise to her and she was just glowing, she was so happy.

I wish my sister could see it. I wish she could see how incredibly happy her presence makes Oma. I wish she would notice it and I wish she’d want to make that happen more often.

Before we left, my mom went out to smoke a cigarette and Lovie and I followed her with some sidewalk chalk. Anything to avoid my sister. I just have nothing to say to her and not because I hate her, but because I don’t know what to say to her. Besides, Oma was beaming with my sister by her side and I didn’t want to take that away; I wanted Oma to have some time with my sister since I knew we’d be back to visit Oma in a couple of weeks without my sister there.

When we came in and after we got cleaned up, it was time to get started on the hour and a half drive home. Lovie gave hugs and kisses to my mom and Oma, completely ignoring my sister.

“Go give your auntie a high five,” I told Lovie. She didn’t hesitate because she doesn’t know- and she won’t ever know- my sister. “Awww can you give her a hug and a kiss, too?”

Lovie smiled at me and turned back and ran to my sister and gave her a hug and leaned in for a kiss, which my sister very awkwardly gave her.

‘Awkward.’ That’s the absolute most perfect word to describe the relationship my sister and I have: ‘Awkward’ and ‘Nonexistent.’

It had been months since I’d last seen or spoken to my sister, yet we parted ways on Saturday without saying much of anything to each other.

Sad.

I don’t hate my sister. I don’t necessarily like her but I don’t hate her. She’s my sister. She’s my blood. It would be awesome if things would be different. I would’ve loved to have chosen her to be my maid of honor five years ago when I got married. I would love for her to be guardian to Lovie if something were to happen to the hubs or me. In theory, I would love all that but in reality? Fuck no. I would never leave my Lovie in her hands. Not because I think she’d do to her what she did to me, but because … blood is really the only thing tying us together these days. I’m not proud to admit that, but I’m not sure what to do to change it. I’ve tried and I generally continue to try to have a relationship with her but between my social awkwardness and our strained relationship, I’m not sure what else I can do without any give from her.

Yep, awkward and nonexistent.  And sad.


29 comments:

  1. Well. . .I guess all you can do is try to nuture a relationship between your two if you have another. I love watching my boys play together and seeing the sweet trust they have in each other, hearing them laugh at their private jokes. For me it's a chance to be in on a sibling relationship even though I'm the mama, if that makes sense. Your daughter is SO adorable, by the way!

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    1. thanks.
      my poor relationship with my sister (and brother) is one reason why i'm totally OK with not having more children. Lovie is my one and only, but should something happen and we have another, i absolutely will do what i can to nurture a sibling relationship...

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  2. I'm so sorry that you have such a strained relationship with your sister and that it causes you so much pain.
    I only have one child and am not sure if I want to have more. My husband wants more and his argument is that our son needs a sibling. But I try to tell him that not everyone has good relationships with siblings. Having a sibling doesn't guarantee having a built-in friend.
    I think you are right, there is only so much you can do to try to have a relationship. After that, you just have to build a support system outside of family and know that even if you don't have the closeness with your sister, you still have people that love you.

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    1. exactly- having a sibling guarantees nothing. unfortunately.

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  3. I don't have a real relationship with my brother either and it really stinks. I wish things were different so much but you just can't make a horse drink, you know?

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  4. That sucks, Christina. But as I grow up, I definitely have realized "blood" only means so much. It's about the people who are there for us day in and out, when we need them, that truly are family!

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  5. I'm sorry. I wish I had something to say other than that's rotten and I feel bad for you. But what else can be said?

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  6. it is truly sad when families fall out, sometimes it is massively unavoidable, and this seems one of those cases. The upside is you can chose family that is not the same way.

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  7. I'm so sorry you don't have the kind of relationship with your sister that you deserve. But family isn't just about blood ties - you have your own immediate family and friends who love you.

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  8. I always find broken family dynamics to be so interesting. When I picture Casey's (my cousin BFF) kids at 2, 4, and 5 years old, I can't imagine them EVER not being best friends. They are so close. They share so much, and yet, there is no guarantee they will even like one another when they are adults. I'm sorry things are awkward with your sister. I'm sure you want her to know and love Lovie soooo much, but obviously forcing it doesn't really feel like the right thing to do. I hope this is one of those situations where you are out to lunch with her in five year and can't really even remember what things were like back when you guys barely spoke. I know it's a long shot, but I hope it happens.

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    1. i kind of hope for that, too, but...

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  9. Such a heart-wrenching post. Sometimes "a friend sticks closer than a brother". xx

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  10. This breaks my heart. My brother and I never really got along that well, either--he's 6 years my junior--and I always resented him a little for taking the spotlight from me. But as we've gotten older, we've managed to put aside our differences and I can honestly say he's one of my best friends, now. I wish for you a way to mend this rift.

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    1. i'm pretty certain both my siblings were pissed at me for being the baby and i'm pretty certain that plays pretty heavily in our relationships. and i do understand that. but. when do we move forward? jeez.

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  11. Sometimes when we're sad about non-existent relationships with blood relatives, it's just because we've been brought up to believe that "blood" means something.

    Does it though? Does it really? Does it mean pursuing a relationship with someone who is an emotional terrorist? Or someone who lies all the time and disrespects the boundaries you have? All because you share genes?

    Maybe moving forward is just moving on...without.

    Or maybe I'm wrong. It happens.

    Either way, I'm sorry that it causes you grief. I wish you peace.

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  12. So sad but it's life...we can't choose our family unfortunately. You sound like you have a healthy and realistic attitude. PS> Lovie is absolutely adorable!!

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  13. This is just a sucky situation. Not many other ways to describe it. I think what you said is very insightful though. You understand why these feelings may have started when you were younger. But you are adults now and there comes a point when your sister should let go of that resentment because the things that caused it (like having to babysit you) aren't there anymore. So sorry that you can't have the relationship that you might wish for. Maybe one day?

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  14. This makes me really sad. I am very close with my sisters and can't really imagine what life would be like without them. On top of that, I couldn't imagine having an awkward exchange with my niece or nephews like that.

    But either way, it seems like you approach the situation in a very mature attitude and are able to keep the mean thoughts to yourself. Bravo for that and bravo for Lovie being insanely cute.

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  15. These types of situations are, as you say, awkward and very sad. My mother has the same thing going on with her brothers, one in particular over some things they disagreed on following my grandmother's death. It's a tough one.

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  16. I think we live in a day where we can pick who our family is... I have cousins I've never met and I don't consider my family. I'm closer with my neighbor! I hope you have many blessings in those kinds of families, you deserve it!

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  17. I'm so sorry about the awkward relationship between you and your sister. My sister is nine years older than me, so I can kind of understand. Growing up, my big sister felt more like a babysitter than a sister, but as adults, we've kind of learned how to balance out our relationship. My husband's sisters on the other hand sound a lot like you and your sister. One of his sisters really craves a great relationship, but the word you used "awkward" describes just how it is between them. And I don't think either of them knows how to bridge that gap.

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  18. My heart breaks for you. That's so unfair! I'm 2 years older than my sister and I couldn't exist without her. She's my everything. Even when I'm not speaking to her because she's pissed me off royally for being so pitiful I think the sun rises and sets on her. I wish I could be your sister. I would love the hell out of Lovie and her amazing awesome hair that begs to be played with. I would be her favorite Auntie ever. Just ask my nephews.

    ~The G is Silent

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  19. this does seem so unfair. my sister and i butt heads often, but like kim, i can't imagine life without her. i'm so sorry it's not a closer relationship, but at the same time, it's her loss in so many ways. i hope for your sake and lovie's that one day she'll come around.

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  20. People don't have to be blood to be family and vice versa, IMO.

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  21. Family can be a blessing or a curse. Tolstoy said it best: All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. You wrote with such honesty about such a painful relationship. Erin

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  22. I'm sorry. :-( I guess all you can really do is be open to her, so that if she does ever change, she'll know you're ready too. Hugs.

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  23. I really feel for your sister in this post. Just like it wasn't your "fault" she had to take care of you, it wasn't hers. Yet she had the responsibility. More traditional moms feel resentment towards the changes children bring them, and it's often mixed with guilt. Awkward emotions, indeed! I don't know if that's what she is feeling, but perhaps you could put your emotions into a letter to her - if you want more connection. If not, move on hanging on to gratitude that she did the best she could for you as a child.

    You are clearly doing emotionally well - and the photos are magnificent!

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  24. Sorry to hear about your sister. My mom was the oldest by nine years and was made to look after her two siblings. She was angry and resentful about it her whole life! But that was her loss. Some people just are who they are, and you move on. I have a sister-in-law that is cordial, but in the eleven years I've known her we've never gone out for coffee, or to see a movie, and when I was around her at family functions, she all but ignored our Down syndrome son. It was her loss. Now that he's seven, there is no relationship between them, or us. Oh well!

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  25. It always makes me sad to hear stories like this cuz I'm an only child and wish I had a sibling. To me, all siblings should just love each other. I know it doesn't always work that way, but I still think it should. I'm sorry, Christina.

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