sisters and the way things really are…


I saw this little thing on Facebook today.  It’s one of those gooshy bits of prose about one’s love and devotion to a particular person.  This particular one was about sisters.  It went like this:

Your sister is always the first female friend you will have in your life.

Nobody will ever be able to understand your craziness like your sister and although you don’t see each other as much as you’d like, she will always remain your friend and be there for you when you need her the most.

While people will come and go in your life, your sister will be in your heart for a lifetime.

Then it goes on to say “If you have a sister you love with all your heart, share this on your wall and tag your sister.”

Whatever.

That doesn’t describe my sister or our relationship in the least.

My sister is four years younger than me.  Most anyone who meets us though thinks she’s older.  I don’t know if it’s the cane she likes to carry (but seldom actually needs or uses) or the fact that she does appear to be somewhat older than me.  I’m sure her being married to a man who is 10 years older than her doesn’t help her acting older.  He’s not that much older than me, but he also acts a lot older than he is too.  He’s not adventurous or funny or anything like that.  I don’t know if he even likes to laugh.  Honestly, he’s just a very solemn dude and it’s hard for any of us to really relax around him, but we try.

So yeah, my sister and I have really nothing in common other than blood, ya know?  And I don’t know if our disconnect isn’t more due to how we were raised.  I’ve mentioned this in another post but I didn’t expound on the way things stand today.

As I said in that post, as an adult, she made one particular really bad decision that I didn’t even know about til her friend called me all distraught and wondering what to do about it.  She wondered if she should call and tell my mother.  I knew my sister wouldn’t listen to me, so I told the friend, yes, she should tell Mom.

Looking back, I admire this lady for being willing to do this.  I don’t have a friend that I’d be willing to call her mother to say, “Hey, I’m worried about what your daughter, my friend, is doing and wanted you to know.”   But she did call my mother and next thing I knew, all heck broke loose….. on me.

I got a furious, frantic call from Mom and later, Dad got on the phone and said the words that have stuck with me for all these years since…  “If you’d been a better sister, she wouldn’t have done that.”  Nothing was said about it for years… I just took it and stewed on it, and it came screaming back at me repeatedly.  It so completely summed up how they treated me and my sister ever since I can remember.  She did whatever and I got the blame for it.

Yes, even as children this was true.  The older sister was blamed for the younger’s actions or inaction or complete disregard for anything.  And keep in mind here… she’s thirty-some years old at this time.  I’ve been married for 10 or so years and have a husband and two young children I’m busy being a stay-at-home mother to…and I get the entire blame for this idiot situation she got herself into?!?!

ARGH!

You see, both of us were diagnosed with chronic diseases as children.  She began having grand mal and petite mal seizures when she was about 3 years old.  I would have been 7 at that time.  In 1975, 8 months before my 8th birthday, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  After I was grown and married, then as I had children, I have often wondered, in awe really, of how my mother coped with all that.  Within a year, both her children were diagnosed with awful diseases.  I think it was maybe another year of seizures, doctors and tests before they diagnosed my sister with epilepsy.   I don’t know how Mom did it.  I’ve always said I would much rather me be the one with an illness than my boys, so I now understand the times my mother cried bitter tears telling me she wished she could take my diabetes.  *sob*  And every time she said that, in my mind was a fierce “NO!” because I would never EVER wish that on my little mother.

But I digress… (shocking, I know!  ha!)

So now here we are, both in our 40’s and living next door to each other, and we rarely see one another.  I find that really sad, but at the same time, I don’t know what to do about it.  I mean, she has over the years been really vocal about feeling like I don’t treat her like my sister or whatever.  She’s sent me letters (the last one came on my birthday… nice, right?) telling me to just “stay away” from her (as if I’m down there banging on her door or something?) since I treat my friends more like sisters than I do her.

First of all, she doesn’t treat me like a sister either.  The road goes both ways.  Second, she doesn’t know my friends let alone how I treat them.  I have much more in common with them, and so I occasionally get together with them for no particular reason.  (not very often though considering the way I have isolated myself in this more recent phase of depression)  If I would go down there and sit around listening to her talk about her cats and her various medical conditions or how she is frustrated with Mom or how many medicines she’s taking now, she would think I was the best “sister” on earth.

I don’t want to do that, though.  I mean, if she needs me to come sit with her when she’s having a hard time with the seizures, I do that.  And I listen politely.  But she’s not interested in the least in hearing about my life or what interests me.  If she disagrees with whatever I try to talk about, she’s quite vocal about that.  But I don’t start telling her I think she’s lazy or sad for just allowing her medical stuff (and our mother) to turn her into an invalid.  I don’t insist that she conform to every interest and opinion I have, so why is it that unless I do so for her, I am not treating her “like a sister”??

I have tried hard not to allow my mother’s wishes, although her intentions are good, to turn me into an incapable, invalid person.  Because my mom SO wishes that her children didn’t suffer from various medical problems, she has always tried to make it so that we had to struggle as little as possible.  For the most part, that is.  And if I didn’t have the kind of man I do for a husband, one who pushes me to do more and be more and go further, I would probably not be able to get around myself today.  That’s the God’s honest truth.  She’s tried for years to get me to use a wheelchair when diabetic neuropathy gave me such severe pain in my feet that walking was a major effort.   I know she means well, but how does one not understand that anything we accomplish involves some amount of struggle and hard work.  Sure, it’s not “fair” that I have diabetes and my sister has epilepsy.  If my boys had medical issues like these??  I would try to help them all I could.. but I wouldn’t try to limit them the way my mom has done.  I like to think I would try to help them achieve anything they really wanted to do as much as possible.

I  realize that my sister’s husband isn’t that kind of person…he’s not really ambitious or competitive or one to set personal goals, therefore, he doesn’t encourage his wife in that way.  So it’s not so much that it bugs me that she won’t “try”, but it DOES bug me that she allows Mom to buy and do for her to the extreme.  My parents bought a car for me in high school.  It was NOT new nor was it “cool”, but it functioned and I was happy to have it.  After I got married (right out of high school) the car stayed with them.  My hubby and I struggled and worked and saved and bought ALL our own vehicles.  My sister’s car (and yeah, the truck her husband drives too) have been purchased by my parents.  ALL her cars.  They aren’t Cadillacs or anything, but a car is not cheap no matter what kind it is.  The cars are also NOT rust buckets or antique junk heaps.  And all of them have been purchased by Mom and Dad.

Then there’s her house.  Built and mostly paid for by my parents as well.  It has a two-car garage and a blacktopped driveway.  It’s in my parents’ names because they don’t trust that the husband wouldn’t maybe divorce my sister and the house would be tied up in the legal mess.  My sister did use the retirement amount she got from working 15 years in retail, but this is a house that would probably be valued at $100,000.  It’s not a cheap home.

Lest you even wonder, my parents didn’t pay a dime for our home.  My husband did most of the work himself, actually, other than framing, drywall and such.  He wired and plumbed it himself as well as doing much of the framing.  We were given the 3/4 of an acre that it sits on, but that’s it.  My sister’s plot is, of course, larger than mine.

When I start thinking about all this stuff, it makes me so sad, so angry.  And I wonder, WHAT did I do that I’m thought so little of?  Why am I treated like some step child who is never going to measure up or be worth as much?   I just can’t understand.  I just don’t know why things are this way.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe my parents love me, but the differences made between us are unmistakable and impossible not to notice.  I don’t advertise them to people.  Only a few of my friends even know about them paying for such major items for my sister.  Frankly, it’s embarrassing to let people know how different they treat us.  It’s embarrassing to me that anyone would know that my parents seem to think so much more highly of her than they do me.

I guess maybe I think they will figure that I MUST have been a horrible child?  Or that I must somehow deserve to be treated that way… or else that they think I’m stupid for putting up with it.  I dunno, but I don’t tell people.  It embarrasses me that my parents show such preference to my sister.

And understand me, I don’t really blame her or am not mad at her because they’ve bought her all these things.  It does irk me to no end that she is so comfortable with it, and of course, as a forty-some year old woman now, it’s expected.  And it really ticks me off that my parents will make comments about how they can’t count on me to “take care of” her when they are gone and stuff like that.  I am so sick of that stuff.

I would make sure she wasn’t destitute or without food or medicine and that she got to a doctor if needed, but would I wipe her butt the way they do?  Nope.  Not on your life.  I have tried for years to get Mom to back off and let her make her own mistakes.  But she won’t hear of it.  And I… I am uncaring for even suggesting such a thing.

And so, in case anyone wondered about the situation between my sister and I, there it is.  Once in a great while, I will see her come out her back door while I’m out in the yard.  She will throw up a hand and we’ll wave at each other.  That’s about the extent of our interactions.

I realize and agree that that’s extremely sad, but again, I don’t really know what to do about it.  Sometimes it’s all I can do to keep myself going, to push myself to get out, to be active, to keep doing what it takes to keep myself halfway healthy.  I feel like I don’t have the energy left over to either push her OR to listen to her “stuff”, most of which leaves me feeling depressed and defeated.  If she could at least come half way and show a little encouragement to do what I am doing, ya know?  But mostly she is disapproving, critical (“Why in the world do you push yourself that way? Why make yourself tired/sore/etc?”) so I just feel like why even try.

*sigh*

Proverbs 18:24“….there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”

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