It’s funny how relationships between siblings change as the years come and go, ages and experiences changing you. I was flipping through my LJ entries a couple nights ago looking for a name and some of my entries were filled with complete disgust, yet resignation about my relationship with my sisters.
My sisters and I have been really close since birth, but we also fought a lot and had periods of times where we didn’t really want a lot to do with each other. There were years where my oldest sister (E) and I were close and went to the movies together and swapped clothes and just got each other. Then my other sister (C) and I worked together and hung out a lot, mostly with her friends, and we got into some not-so-good scraps together, but it was still fun. Then we started growing up and apart. E moved in with C and they were thick as thieves; though I visited sometimes and E&C had disagreements, they were still closer with each other than me. They went on a vacation together that I backed out of. I regret it now and wish I had gone with; I think it really contributed to us losing closeness, but at the time it was the right thing for me because I would have been miserable.
It was hard. It was hard because they had really similar tastes and body types compared to me. I hated drinking and going out and they both loved it. They are both incredibly social, brilliantly friendly girls and I’m … I’m me. I like to hide in the corner and conversation makes me hyperventilate. When we went out together, they ‘brought all those boys to the yard’ and I basically stood there with my low self esteem radiating off me like a repellant. They went out to talk and flirt and meet people, and if I was being dragged out I just wanted to ignore everyone and focus on our group; I’m like that now, too, though. New people make me hive because WHAT DO YOU TALK ABOUT? I mean, at the time I was fixated on Keanu/Sandra, Arthur, Backstreet Boys, and Josh Groban. I loved whatever we were studying in my courses at that time. How do you strike up a conversation about Chaucer, Middle English, in the middle of a club? You can’t. (Husband tried it once, when he was separated, actually started reciting a whole Romantic era poem to this girl because it had her name in it. She blanched and walked away.)
Between the end of college and getting married to Husband, I really didn’t want anything to do with my family. I am pretty ashamed of this now, but I think it was just a phase and some mental stuff I had to work through but didn’t realize it yet. I was excited to get married, move away, and I would tell Husband often that I didn’t think we’d be going down to see my family. I just wanted to be with him. E was getting married too, and C was a little lost at this time and jealous jealous jealous that we were getting married and on a path that she couldn’t see for herself yet. She was a good sport about our weddings and put on a good face, but inside it was hard. We hung out here and there, but I was really bratty about it and only wanted to hang out if we were doing things I wanted to. I think it was because Husband and I were so similar and always had the same ideas about what to do for fun; I wanted the same from my sisters.
Ok, so, we both got married, right? And at E’s wedding you would think nothing but rainbow and sunshine of our relationship; the three of us did a dance together at the reception and were constantly finding each other during the dancing portion to sing to each other and dance and be silly. The night before my wedding the three of us went out with our favorite cousin to see Bridesmaids, still decked out from the rehearsal dinner, and it will always be one of my favorite nights. Also my actual wedding night, where (because our reception was dinner only) we all met up at Chicago’s amazing bar The Hangge Uppe and danced all night. But that’s how it is for the three of us; when we’re together, we’re in it to win it, and we’re really great together.
After our weddings, though, the next two years were tricky. C and E lived a lot closer to each other than me, and saw each other a lot more. E got pregnant and had my niece. Then C got a new boyfriend and wanted to spend all her time with him (as you do). Husband and I were trying to navigate new lives in the city, plus visiting three different sets of grandparents with Stepson and keeping his ex happy. It was hard to see each other and really connect. Then my car died and I was chained to the city unless Husband could take me somewhere. C and E both moved and were now within 20 minutes of each other. They saw each other weekly, sometimes more often, and me once a month if that. Things were happening and everyone in the family knew but me; I would be told a week or so later. C was posting videos and pictures of our niece weekly, while I only saw her once a month and she barely knew who I was.
The thing that hurt the most for me was that for Christmas and their birthdays, I had no idea what to get them. I was vaguely guessing and felt terrible about it. Why didn’t I know my own sisters? But I didn’t really try to start a relationship again. I didn’t know how, and I convinced myself that they didn’t want one with me; they were happy with just each other. I can throw a mean pity party when I want to! Husband and I completely differ in familial relationships because his are very strained and barely existent. Mine have always been tight and secure; it wasn’t until I graduated college that things really started to unravel, and I didn’t know how to get it back together. I was frustrated and felt out of the loop.
Then Oct/Nov ( I can’t remember which month) 2012, two big things happened. C got engaged. It really changed the whole dynamic of our family that we were all going to be married, and ‘caught up’ with each other, so to speak. Even though she had a boyfriend, for a long time it still felt like C was ‘single’ and the rest of us had families. So her getting married evened it all out, as awful as that might sound. Also E confided in Husband and me that she was pregnant (again). It was our little secret, and I think her telling me and not telling C was a real sign to me that I needed to step it up and start giving back to these sister relationships. (WHY it meant so much: the first time E was pregnant she told C, not me, and they were actively keeping it a secret from me). So I started giving back. We began texting and talking more; meeting up when I could and hanging out. It wasn’t weekly, it wasn’t every weekend, but we were doing more than before. We were more involved with each other’s lives.
Another side effect of this was that we started talking about real issues. We were talking about religion, sex, and the struggles of being married. A big hurdle we leaped over was that my sisters stopped seeing me as their little sister who knew nothing to someone with a worthwhile opinion. Although truth be told I also stopped acting like a bratty know it all, so that helped too. I lacked in so many areas growing up that my intelligence was really all I had to cling to, and when I could show people up with it I did, and I did it IN THEIR FACE. Yeah, so toning that down definitely helped things too.
Are things perfect? No. For my mom’s birthday she, my dad, and my two sisters all went out to lunch together. I sobbed the entire time Husband drove me to work because I couldn’t be there for it. My feelings were so hurt. But now that E had her second baby, I’ve spent about three or four weekends this summer sleeping over at her house and helping with the kids. Memories and connections with her and her kids that C isn’t there for. C and I also Face Time when we can; I saw her new townhouse before anyone else because of it. We both have the same computer and went shopping a few times together. It goes both ways.
I wrote all this because I’ve been thinking about it for the last couple of weeks; C got married on the 6th and she spent most of her wedding reception with her friends. I was really frustrated and upset about it that night (I was running on little sleep, unknowingly PMSing, and Stepson had been giving us a lot of attitude). It was towards the end of the reception (MIDNIGHT, yikes!) and I was just a crank. I think my aunt and mom thought I was being a bitch, but I didn’t really care. I just wanted to go home and sleep and was basically being forced to stay. My sisters were dancing together out on the dance floor (there was really no one left at this point) and they beckoned me out there and I went out there reluctantly and was like Gooooddddd this is awful! But I did it anyway. Because sometimes that’s what you do for your sisters and I’m finally getting that. Sometimes you just buck it up and put on a smile and then bitch about it later to your husband and then wake up the next morning and realize it wasn’t that bad and oh wait you were such a whiny asshole because you’re on your period. Ok. I saw them later that day and everything was okay, good, great.
We always thank our parents for forcing the three of us to share one bedroom for 18 years. But I also like to think there was some dedication on our parts as well. Dedication to keeping tabs on each other, to voicing our honest feelings, to supporting each other. It was and isn’t perfect, but it’s a good relationship.