I am the fifth of six siblings. My father married my mother and, my oldest brother arrived all before they both turned 20. Following the birth of the sixth child, my parents divorced. Consequently, my mother began working out of the home and my oldest sister became like a second mother to the youngest sibling. I, at age 8, became very independent. I held close a best friend and her family, while getting involved in a long list of activities, sports and church youth groups. I was a straight arrow kid, and it was important to me not to make waves for my mother, who had her hands full. However, even before my parents split up, I remember sensing disapproval from my oldest sister. We are 8 years apart in age and different in many ways. Some of my earliest memories are ones where she demonstrated resentment towards me.
The estrangement between her and I began when my family was cut off of holidays and family gatherings that she hosted. She was not interested in attending many gatherings where I might be also attending. My father pleaded her to meet and speak with me about what was between us and eventually she agreed to meet.
While meeting, I don’t believe she had any intention of reconciliation. A few things were discussed, mistakes we both made, words said that can’t be taken back. Yet, it felt like she was not completely forth coming. It is true that with a family our size, sharing a small home, things happen, people get frustrated, mad and hurt.
Our differences continued to separate us and when conflicts arose my three sisters banded together so it felt like, them against me. With my two brothers living far away, I was isolated. My sister refused to talk about it with my parents. My father and one of my brothers commented about how “powerful they could be when they backed each other up”. They were so sure that they were justified in what they were doing.
The estrangement was hard of course, for my parents and for my husband and kids. For a time my son questioned what I did to cause the estrangement. I shared with him all that I understood and he admitted that he felt I had to be holding something back since the punishment felt so severe. With the past year and the passing of both my parents, my husband and kids no longer question what could have happened but instead encourage me to let it go.
As the eldest daughter, and in the absence of my oldest brother, my sister was given much of the decision making in the care of my aging parents. I was left out of decisions and important information regarding their condition and care. As much as I could, I was there for my parents. During my parents’ lives and in their final days we were able to express our love for each other .
It has never been clear to me what I have done that would justify being treated in this way, or what is so different about me, as a member of our family, compared to any of my other 5 siblings. Even so, I have apologized several times for anything I may have said or done that would offend anyone in our family. I apologized in person, through email and text, and in cards written and sent through the mail.
Both my parents passed and the most recent punishment I received from my sisters has left my children and husband firmly believing I need to get out from under the family drama. At my mother’s interment, the priest talked about meeting, “the daughters”, but not the brothers. I was not given the option to help with or be involved in the planning of my mother’s funeral, so I thought that comment was strange, since I had not met the priest. Finally, while my sister was giving the eulogy, she listed all my mother’s children by name and left mine out. My brother acknowledged to me, that my mother would not have wanted that to happen.
Knowing what to say when people ask about my relationship with my sisters is difficult. I have no answer that makes sense. So many stories in the book; Brothers, Sisters, Strangers, felt like my own. Because of that, I feel less alone. It has helped me accept my situation and the things I cannot change. I am grateful for my life, my community, my marriage, my kids and my growing family. Most days I am grateful for who I have become. I am dedicated to lifelong learning, self-improvement and engaging fully in the life I have been given.