My sister and I aren’t friends. Granted, I suppose that isn’t that uncommon, but it isn’t just that we aren’t friends. We don’t actually talk. And we live in the same metro area. Oddly, it isn’t because I detest my sister or have any ill feelings toward her, all of which just lends itself to confusion amongst my friends.
Wait, your sister lives her and you don’t hang out with her? You don’t even have her phone number?
And sadly, no, I don’t have her phone number. If, God forbid, anything ever happened to my parents, I would have to go through their phones to be able to contact her, as I don’t have her email address either. Yet I feel no pressing urgency to get either of them, which I will readily admit is a failing on my part.
Yet when we have family gatherings, we never acknowledge each other. At Thanksgiving, she literally sat across from me and down one seat (once she arrived) and we never exchanged so much as a glance. And she’ll probably be at my house on Christmas morning, but she won’t so much as wish me a Merry Christmas.
Things didn’t always used to be this way. I used to say hello, Merry Christmas, etc, but she never so much as acknowledged my presences. And the presents I used to buy her for her birthday and Christmas? After years of not only having not return gift (and it isn’t all about the gift) but years of no thank you or even acknowledgement that I had given her anything, and I gave up.
Interestingly, I truly don’t dislike her. In a way, I think it’s worse because I just don’t care. And I know there are plenty of people out there who will lambaste me for feeling that way about my own flesh and blood, but how do you force feelings for someone when there is just an empty pit? I’d far rather feel nothing than resent her or hate her. To me, that is less healthy.
As kids, we did the usual get along/fight paradox that I’m sure drove my mom batty. We would play together sometimes, but we also had our own friends. I am older than her by just 15 months, which I think contributes to the problem. Growing up, if I wanted to do horseback riding, she had to. I wanted to try ballet? She was in my class, too. If I wanted to play softball, guess who was also on my team. On and on it went. And then there’s school. I was the kid the teachers all loved and raved about, mostly because I was easy and paid attention and did well in school. Imagine being the younger sister following that in a one section Catholic school. Oh! You’re Michelle’s sister! That can’t be an easy reaction to live down.
Going to college, even two different colleges in different states, didn’t fix things. My mom would beg us to get along, but that never worked. We never fought or argued from our teen years on; we simply didn’t interact.
And at this point in time, I don’t know what it would take to change that. I have nothing in common with my sister aside from blood. I know what she does for a living, but she never tells stories about it. Because of the hours she chooses to work, she shows up late to family gatherings or uses it as an excuse to not come at all. For Thankgiving, for example, she showed up after we’d started eating and left before we ate dessert.
I don’t know what she does for fun or who her friends are. She has no kids and no intentions of having children, so it isn’t like I can even connect to her through them. That may not even work, however, as she does like my children but interacts with them completely separate from me and at 9 and 11, they are often doing something independent from me at family gatherings.
So really, there’s no story to explain our estrangement. There’s no big event to catapulted us into different orbits. We just..are. And at this point, I don’t see that ever changing.
This post was inspired by the novel The Mill River Redemption by Darcie Chan, about two estranged sisters who are forced to work together in order to uncover the hidden inheritance by their mother. Join From Left to Write as we discuss The Mill River Redemption and enter to win a copy of the novel. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.