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Do Fish Dream ?

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Perfect Sister


Many of you may share my image of the "perfect sister". She understands you intuitively because she had the same parents and shared your childhood. She laughed and cried with you through all your early adventures: family outings and holidays, summers at the beach, shopping expeditions, getting through school, experiments with haircuts and makeup, surviving first loves and losses.

She accepts and supports you even when she would choose a different path. Although you started out as big or the little sister, you evolved into equal friends. She never complains that your parents gave you more and that's why your life turned out better. She is always there for you in moments of crisis, knowing what you need without being told.

She can listen to you without offering advice when you just want a sympathetic ear. She was your ally in childhood who helped you deal with your parents, and later, she was your partner in coping with their illnesses. She gives you what no one else in the world can give you – a lasting connection to your childhood and family. Your sister shares your memories of all the important people and events in your life even after everyone else is gone. She's the one person you have for your entire life.

Some women are actually blessed with that perfect sister, and they can't imagine life without her. But for me, the reality doesn't live up to the ideal. I don't have anything in common with my adult sisters. In fact, as sad and harsh as this may seem, I would pick neither for a friend. I'm not sure why, but we keep experiencing upsetting conflicts and disappointments. I guess I struggle with why my sister relationships don't match my expectations or the "cultural ideal" - but in reality I know that it is my expectations that are the problem.

For some reason, I keep expecting that my sisters and I will have the kind of relationship that would do Pollyanna proud - the kind of relationship that I suggested above. But the reality is that whilst my two younger sisters are very close, I am the odd one out. They phone each other and visit each other regularly and have a close relationship. And this makes me jealous. It makes me sad. I feel excluded. Now, you would think that at my age (44 next month), I would be well and truly over this kind of nonsense, but it hurts ... it really hurts. I understand that I have taken a completely different life path to them both, and I have fundamentally different life philosophies, ideals, values and beliefs. So, yes that sets us apart. As does the fact that geography separates me from them - they live in the same state, whereas I live in a different part of the country and have done so for most of the 27 years since I left home.

But, for some reason instead of accepting that those differences set us apart and accepting that we will never have the close relationship that I crave, I have booked a ticket and a hire car and will be travelling to visit with them next weekend. No doubt there will be "issues" - snide remarks, sideways looks, strongly voiced opinions on my parenting and career choices, whispered conversations just out of earshot - and I will end up in tears and wonder why I keep putting myself in this situation time after time, expecting different results.

I know I need to accept that which I cannot change - and I can in a lot of other areas in my life - but I'm really struggling with this one.

32 comments:

reVAMPed said...

Wow I was laughing my head off at the first part about sisters because my daughters (10 & 13) are soooooo very different and I'll bet when they grow up, they probably won't have hardly any relationship with each other. I'd be shocked if I was wrong.

Are you sisters younger/older and closer in age than you are with them?

I hate being in a room where there are whispers behind my back. Just pretend when you think you're hearing them whisper that they're saying how jealous THEY are of YOU.

If you are happy in your life, you can't let people you hardly see, even if it's family, dictate how you should live your life like theirs, since they probably don't have a clue what it's like to walk in your shoes. It's just bullshit.

I'm an only child...I like it that way. (okay, sometimes, I wish it were different)

I wish you the best on your trip.

Sister

Sarah said...

Seeing that I don't have a sister and am fortunate to have a great relationship with my brother, I do understand how you feel. Watching "sisters" is truly remarkable; they have their own language. When my brother got married, I thought I would finally have that "sister"---uh no. She already has a "real " sister, so there really was no need for me....

Have you ever tried telling them how you feel. If anything, family members do owe one another the opportunity to express how they feel even if its not shared. I would also make it clear that you don't feel welcome and question why you should continue to make an effort....

To quote our friend "A-Train"---energy needs to come both ways; if it is only coming one direction, then it is time for you to take a step back....

In the meantime...you have a sister in the US....:)

tina FCD said...

I have been pretty busy and will do my own post about this subject too. But I totally relate to this,I have 3 sisters. Not close to any of them.

Miss Milk said...

Eeep. I see myself in your exact position in 10 or 20 years. I've shared a room with my sisters, one at a time, for ten years and I'm certainly no closer to either of them. Perhaps it's unavoidable for some of us that the dream isn't going to stack up to the reality.

Mountaingirl said...

I have no relationship with my sister, and was never close (even in childhood) so sometimes I find it difficult to relate to the 'positive sister stories'. So now I just translate the word sister to sista - those incredible women who I have chosen to have in my life. Those who love me and treat me with honor and respect. Those that make me laugh and hold me when I cry. Why would you accept anything less Missus? I too hate the idea of snide remarks being made at such an incredible woman as you but I also respect that sometimes we need to do these things. Here's trusting that you find the answers you are looking for and please know that you have a gang of sistas up here that would never treat you like that.

Joe said...

I was fairly close to my oldest brother until he passed. I won't see my other two brothers ever once my parents pass. I'm good with this.
I believe that as adults you choose your family. I'm not related to the men I call my "brothers" and so be it.

On the other hand, my wife has the sisterly relationship with her only sister. They went through a lot together as kids and when their mom became ill and passed. My sister in law has been a positive force in the lives of my bonus daughters. But, those relationships are few and far between.

If it upsets you so to reach out to your sibs, you may really want to step back and evaluate the cost effectiveness of it. Then, wash your hands of it and move on.

Abbey said...

Ah girl... its the Christmas nightmare all over again..:(

Chick it will never be how you wish it, I can't advise you personally I would walk away... but then I saw my cousin haul her brother over the coals (he'd held alot of childhood stuff and issues) and it worked for them, very emotional...

I have the dysfunctional family from hell but I no longer try and bond with them, I have Josef & Elle, I attend weddings and funerals..the family I do like, I have an occasional coffee with...I'm like MG, to me its about quality of relationships, and I want for nothing...

Let me know how you get on baby...

pita-woman said...

Wow, I could do some serious blogging on this topic, but I know my mother (or some other family member would read it) and it would get back to my sister, and it would totally destroy what little relationship we have.
My sister is 7 years younger than me, and a virtual 180/opposite from me, not only in looks, but in our lifestyles, morals, attitudes, everything! You'd think two people being raised by the same two parents would turn out similarly, but we were treated so differently, it's no wonder we're at different ends of the spectrum. I hated her when we were kids. I love her, because she's my sister, but I don't particularly like her. The only time we see each other is at family functions. We never call each other, emails are a rare thing between us, and I suppose because of my lack of feelings towards her, I have very little feelings towards her two sons. I hate to admit that, but it's true. I care more about my neighbors across the street than my own sister.
TM, I wish you well in your journey. I hope you're able to work things out with your sisters. But if not, know that you have your blog-sistazzz to lean on.

Riverwolf said...

These kinds of things of really difficult. My family is totally screwed up. I tried to arrange an 80th birthday party last year for our father, and all hell broke loose because of the brothers/sisters (there are 5 of us). I rarely talk to my 2 older brothers, although I can't say why exactly. I seem to always be the one trying to mend fences and bring the family together while they act as if they couldn't care less. So, for better or worse, I have decided to keep in touch with those who keep in touch with me. You can't change anyone else but yourself, and you don't need to apologize for how you live your life as long as it's done with kindness and integrity. Best wishes on your trip, and let us all know how it goes.

pita-woman said...

A friend sent this to me in an email this morning, and it made me think of you.
Often, sisters aren't even related by blood, but they are all the women in our life.
This is for you T.M.


Sisters

A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day,
drinking iced tea and visiting with her Mother. As
they talked about life, about marriage, about the
responsibilities of life and the obligations of
adulthood, the mother clinked the ice cubes in her
glass thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance
upon her daughter

'Don't forget your Sisters,' she advised, swirling
the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass. 'They'll
be more important as you get older. No matter how
much you love your husband, no matter how much you
love the children you may have, you are still going
to need Sisters. Remember to go places with them now
and then; do things with them.'

'Remember that 'Sisters' means ALL the women...
your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your other
women relatives too. 'You'll need other women. Women
always do.'

What a funny piece of advice!' the young woman
thought. Haven't I just gotten married?
Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a
married woman, for goodness sake! A grownup! Surely
my husband and the family we may start will be all I
need to make my life worthwhile!'

But she listened to her Mother. She kept contact
with her Sisters and made more women friends each
year. As the years tumbled by, one after another,
she gradually came to understand that her Mom really
knew what she was talking about. As time and nature
work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman,
Sisters are the mainstays of her life.

After more than 50 years of living in this world,
here is what I've learned:

THIS SAYS IT ALL:

Time passes.
Life happens.
Distance separates.
Children grow up.
Jobs come and go.
Love waxes and wanes.
Men don't do what they're supposed to do.
Hearts break.
Parents die.
Colleagues forget favors.
Careers end.
BUT.........

Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how
many miles are
between you. A girl friend is never farther away
than needing her can reach.

When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you
have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life
will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on,
praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on
your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the
valley's end.

Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk
beside you...Or come in and carry you out.

Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters,
daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers,
Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended
family, all bless our life!

The world wouldn't be the same without women, and
neither would I. When we began this adventure called
womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or
sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we
would need each other.

Every day, we need each other still. Pass this on
to all the women who help make your life meaningful.
I just did. Short and very sweet.

Iron Pugilist said...

That is sad. I love my sisters, but I feel that they will never understand what I am and how I feel. I do feel that we will grow apart in about 10 year's time.

Abbey said...

In a little way thats true Pugs, but having children brings you closer again. I have two little cousins (25yrs) who are as close now as the day they were born...and you will always be the big brother... :)

gemmak said...

Hmmmm...I know this one but best I don't say too much in case like pita-woman it gets 'found'!

Love the elephant pic :o)

Indigo-Daisy said...

So how did it go? Was it as bad as you though?

I am the black sheep in my family as well, which is why I am so glad I am over 1200 miles from home. This way I can go back and visit once every 5-10 years, they are happy to see me for a short time and then I go home.

My hubby and boys are my world and they make up for what I lack in family. Seems you have a good support group around you as well. Cheers!

Tex said...

Well, she's had to go away for work for two weeks and is pretty busy, so I'll answer how it went - surprisingly well.

She was worried because she didn't want to tell her dad she was coming down because then he would get jealous she was spending time with mum and sister not with him, but she did tell him at the last minute, which worked out better, because he was fine with that and just spent some time sitting in the car with her watching the kids play soccer, and that satisfied him, but then Mum and Sis started on her: "Why is he nice to you? He's an asshole, blah, blah, blah", and Missus was very smart and calm and simply pointed out that whatever their problems were with him, not to take it out on her.

Overall she had a nice time, spent time with Mum and one sis, plus nieces and nephews, all seemed to get on well with the one exception above and by having boundaries and not taking it personally that even seemed to work itself out.

That's my take on it anyway - I wasn't there, so I may be missing something, or may be misinterpreting, but I'm sure she'll fill ya in when she gets back.

pita-woman said...

So very kind of you Tex, to fill us all in. Can't speak for the others but I was beginning to think her sisters must've konked her over the head and stuffed her in a trunk somewhere.
Glad it seems to have went well for her.

pita-woman said...

So very kind of you Tex, to fill us all in. Can't speak for the others but I was beginning to think her sisters must've konked her over the head and stuffed her in a trunk somewhere.
Glad it seems to have went well for her.

gemmak said...

Come back! ;o)

Tex said...

She'll be back Wednesday, then off again Friday.

Preposterous Ponderings said...

I have 3 sisters and we are nothing alike.

I am the corrupt one in case you were wondering.LOL

Abbey said...

You know where I am Chick a Dee...x

Tracey said...

I've read Texs kind update, but I still miss you. Come back soon, ok?

Hope everything is ok.

Tex said...

just to let you all know how she is.

A bit frail and crying a lot from the little I've seen.

I am just trying to detach, because I realise she doesn't want me around and is not really responding to any of my approaches to talk.

I don't think she is talking to anyone, and is just throwing herself into her work, but I am worried about her sadness.

I could be wrong, because I am not really in the picture any more, and perhaps this state of mind is just when I am around, but I don't think so because I noted how protective and clingy my stepson, her son is acting around her and I think he must be worried about her, scared of what the future holds, of being involved in this, and unsure of why she is so sad.

Whatever is going on for her is not my business, I am trying to detach and just let her go, but I have had a little contact and fucked it up a bit by getting upset when she withdrew from me and told me nothing, but that is her decision, not mine and it is not my place to impose my will or desire upon anyone, so all I can do is let her know I'm sorry for getting angry, sorry for whatever she is going through and that i understand and accept that whatever it is she doesn't want to, or cannot bring herself to talk about it with me.

I am just keeping away and giving her breathing space, allowing her to make contact in the future if she ever needs me as a friend to talk to once our emotional connection is not so strong.

I do love her and wish her the best, I have made some suggestions, but I fear that she is scared of what she perceives others may think of her and is not talking to anyone about this, which is not healthy for her state of mind, so I dearly hope she is able to get some help and talk to someone.



Shit, I have been talking to heaps of people, have seen a counsellor, and been doing lots of public crying in AA meetings and I am struggling a lot, so I can't imagine how hard it must be to cope in isolation. Regardless of who made the decision to split, i think it is just as hard for both parties to cope with the immense loss of a life partner who you did everything with and who was a best friend and companion in almost everything, so my wishes for her happiness are there, little that they mean.

Anonymous said...

I (and I'm sure many others) hope you return one day...

Tex said...

Just in case anyone is interested, I spoke to her via email today, and she sounds reasonably well, though still a little sad.

I hope she feels like getting back on here one day (with a new name for her blog, I'd imagine), but she is really busy with work and also is trying to organise to get her stuff moved into a new place she has found to rent, so perhaps when that is sorted she may blog again, but possibly the whole blog thing may remind her of happier times with me, so she may just want to avoid the whole scene at the moment, which is understandable.

She seems to be upset a bit, but nevertheless believes that she has made the right decision, so I hope it works out for the best for her, and I do hope she comes back on here, because I know a lot of readers like her for her compassion, empathy, humour and intelligence.

pita-woman said...

Indeed, I hope things get better for both of you, whether together or separately. I appreciate you keeping us updated that she's muddling through, and mostly appreciate the fact that you're not being hateful or spiteful as many spouses tend to do when things go awry as such.
Wishing you both well!!

Tex said...

Tks pw, yes i was feeling hurt and a bit pathetically in the "poor me" syndrome for the first two weeks, but now I do feel a strong sense of acceptance, and I know that the person I loved for 5 years is still there, and simply because she does not wish to live with me any longer does not make her a horrible person, and I can let her go.

I do worry about her, because I know that she is under a lot of (self-imposed usually) pressure, and I think she has a capacity to hurt herself spiritually and emotionally, and this also carries a physical toll. I hope she is going well, and (even though I used to say I'm an atheist), I do pray for her sometimes - I doubt if it works in a supernatural way, but I am sure it works in that it makes me think nice thoughts and I imagine I project them toward her, and hope they do some good. At the least it makes me able to be nice to her and mean it during any contact.

the Albino Bowler said...

Hey. I'm back. I was just staring at a jar of Vegemite my fiancee Jo left me when she left for Australia a few weeks ago. Her luggage weighed too much at the airport and she hat to ditch it along with a bunch of shoes. Any advice on what to do with it?

M-

If you can help me figure out something decent, I'll post about it.

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do worry about her, because I know that she is under a lot of (self-imposed usually) pressure, and I think she has a capacity to hurt herself spiritually and emotionally, and this also carries a physical toll. I hope she is going well, and (even though I used to say I'm an atheist), I do pray for her sometimes - I doubt if it works in a supernatural way, but I am sure it works in that it makes me think nice thoughts and I imagine I project them toward her, and hope they do some good. At the least it makes me able to be nice to her and mean it during any contact.

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