I went through a messy divorce, which was by far the hardest part of my life, even worse than losing my dad, yet I had moved on, remarried, and finally found happiness. However, my ex-husband remained a thorn in my side. Every move I made, he managed to complicate. He hadn’t been very involved in the kids’ lives due to work, and I had adjusted. Then he met someone and wanted to prove he was a good dad, so he decided that he wanted to move close to my neighborhood. I was devastated because every time I started to find joy another curveball was thrown my way. It was another bump in the road that made it difficult to move forward and into my new normal. When I heard the news, I called my sister in hopes of finding a friend who understood my story and who loved me. I vented to her about how shaken I was, but she tried to use therapy speak with me. I was frustrated and hurt with her comments, which I can’t remember exactly what she said, but it felt something like this, “That must be difficult for you.” “Have you thought that maybe this could be a good thing?” Obviously, I should have been thinking like that, but this was my sister, and I didn’t need a therapy session; I needed a friend. She made me feel like I was screwed up, and she had never made a mistake in her adult life.
Everyone who has a sister has a story about their relationship. Maybe your sister covered for you when you snuck out of the house? Or maybe she embarrassed you in front of your boyfriend by showing pictures of you when you were a baby. While growing up, sisters argue and fight over trivial matters, but there is usually a secret code to have each other’s backs when it comes to the big stuff. Sisters have the potential for a powerful relationship and can be unwavering supporters of one another for life. Someone who can always be counted on or called in good times and in bad. Sisters can share a unique bond together that has potential to develop over many years of impressionable growth.
In spite of the fantasy that parents have about sister relationships, many sisters don’t have the connection parents had envisioned. And in all honesty, family units in general often don’t turn out quite how people would imagine. Not everyone has DJ Tanner as an older sister or the connection the Kardashian sisters have. I have one sister, who I wanted to be my best friend for life, but it just didn’t work out that way. I didn’t always think we would be best friends, but as we became adults, I began to imagine how our relationship would grow over time.
We are four and a half years apart, and our lives just never lined up at the right time. When I was little a kid, I went out and played with my friends while my sister stayed home with my mom. Looking back, I know I was proud to be a big sister, but I don’t remember spending much time playing with her or doing sisterly things together.
Then when I was a moody teen, she would do about anything to be included, and I would do about anything to leave her behind. I was too cool to hang out with my younger sibling. Although, I did participant in some acts of typical sibling torment for my own amusement because that’s what teenagers do. However, my sister still brings up the story of trampoline, which I cannot repeat because she would kill me. This impacted her more negatively than I could have imagined. Her own sister, the person who she looked up to, mortified her. If I could go back in time, I would have spent more time with her and got to know her better. I don’t think either of us realized how much we needed each other, but we didn’t have role models to show us how to love each other. I partly blame my parents for not providing more opportunities for us to build a relationship as sisters or stressing the importance of family time.
As I started to mature, I spent the majority of my time with a boyfriend and at my job. I wasn’t home very often, and when I was home, I couldn’t be bothered with a middle school sister. Again, I regret not taking my role as big sister more seriously. Even as a teenager, I knew she needed me, but I didn’t really care because I did not have the life experience or maturity to empathize with her. However, there were additional family circumstances that complicated our relationship.
When I was eighteen, I had a baby of my own, and my sister was just entering her teen years. I didn’t have time to come home or be the cool sister because was figuring out how to be a mom. And deep down, I did not want her to end up like me, but I never really told her that or showed her how much I loved her. I missed out on most of her young adult life, which makes me sad.
When I was twenty-two and she was eighteen there was this sliver of time where our lives and maturity levels seemed much more aligned, and we understood each other. We could relate and have some fun together. We were kind of adulting together. I wouldn’t say we were best friends, but we had an honest relationship. There weren’t secrets about how we lived our lives. We could be silly, angry, scared, or sad around each other. Our parents were going through a difficult time during these years, and maybe we found connection through the problems our parents were facing. Eventually though it just started to tear us apart. Our dad died when I was 28 and my sister was 24. This phase lasted for about eight years, but before we knew it, we were growing apart once again due to our relationships, family circumstances, and just life in general.
Surprisingly, we had daughters at around the same time, which again, one would imagine to be the ultimate bonding experience of tea parties, playdates, lemonade stands, and family gatherings on a regular basis. But we had veered even further off into different ways of life and different values. Now sadly, we don’t even talk. I would even call us strangers until there is a family event or holiday that forces us to awkwardly connect and put on a fake face of mutual respect and love. And my heart aches for this best friend that could have been. I still see glimmers of what could have been or moments where I feel like ‘this is what sisterhood feels like’, but it never really takes hold for the long term.
I’m not saying it’s too late, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin to find a friend in my sister. I try to make up for the lost relationship by modeling family love and support in my own home. As a mom of three, I wish for my kids to be lifelong friends, have unconditional love for each other, and a bond that can’t be broken. I want them to be honest and open, so they don’t build walls that can’t be come down. I want them to be each other’s biggest supporters and lean into each other to celebrate each other’s successes and offer support in times of failure.
It’s so heartbreaking reading your story. You made me realize that I should pay attention more to my sister, so our bond will grow and last long. I’ll pray for you and your sister’s relationship to be better. It’s not too late yk? Maybe she’s also longing for a sister’s love and she’s only waiting for you to reach her.
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Thank you for your kind words! Relationships definitely require commitment and understanding of one another.
Beautiful language of life’s labored love of family that can be a testing of one self. Love how you have grown through the adversity that created a better you. Creation of better family and contributors though your children that ultimately make the world a better place.
Equivalent to A master class. Thank you.