I am not a great writer nor do I pretend that anything I put into this blog is anything more than the therapy of sometimes exorcising emotions and thoughts that need to leave my mind and exposed to the light and acknowledged for existing.
So I have to say it now. I don’t like my older sister and haven’t for some years now.
I grew up in a large family of six: five daughters and one son. I was the youngest, born a full decade after my nearest sibling. The writer Michelle McNamara once wrote that being the youngest in a large family felt like coming to a party that was almost over, in which the best part had already passed. In my case that was true, but there was also this weird sibling dynamic that I never quite understood until recently. For years, I had accepted certain stories and viewpoints as verbatim truth; now I recognize they were distorted by the narrator, my sister here in question.
My sister is a passive aggressive with a victim complex. She has twisted the narrative to make people look at her as a martyr, who stayed at home, took care of her mother, while her other siblings abandoned the family responsibility. The reality of the situation, as I have discovered, is that my mom took care of her for 50 some odd years, and that any time one of my older siblings tried to get close to my mother, old rivalries were rekindled and fanned to flame. People believe, like I did once, that she is sweet, but the sweetness hides a selfishness that requires those who are close to her to make her always the priority and support her, both emotionally and financially when she demands. And when they refuse her, they are painted broadly as villains or failing as relatives. Because we share a DNA, I owe her my attention and time, and when I fail to do so, the guilt is laid on with a heavy trowel.
After my mother passed, she moved out to California, and fully expected me to make her the center of my attention and when she blew through an inheritance recklessly, support her financially. She has never truly admitted her screw ups, taken even partial responsibility for the animosity of our fellow siblings towards her nor given any sort of apology. She is always the victim of circumstance or the perceived focus of contempt of our brothers and sisters. We owe her everything and she owes us nothing.
If we go shopping and I meet a friend and chat for a moment, she moves aside, glaring and sighing because I have shifted my attention for a few seconds from her. If I don’t spend every weekend with her, I am “bad sister”. Recently, I was admonished in the middle of a food shopping trip for not giving her enough “sister time”. Not “hey, let’s go out for coffee” or “Can I take you out for lunch”, but rather “You aren’t living up to your responsibilities to me as a sister”. She refuses to make friends or connections, citing a “shyness” but requires me to fulfill these needs on a constant basis.
For years, I would spend Saturday and Sundays with her, feeling guilty if I begged off, feigning sickness or a rough week. But I’ve begun to realize that I am feeding into her obsession and needs and ignoring my own. In reality, our shared DNA is not a pact and I owe her nothing but politeness and civility, no more than I owe anyone on this planet. She will never acknowledge balance in relationship and expecting as much from her, is problematic and wrong for me to think otherwise.
I owe an apology to my oldest sister, who died years ago. She warned me and I just thought she was mean and ungrateful.
The myth of sibling love is sometimes just that, just a myth that we try to pretend to try to adhere and believe in, living a lie that is not only untrue but toxic to our own mental health. And its often it’s really an illusion that hides some very ugly truths.