How do I begin…I guess I start from the beginning. I have 4 sisters and each one of us is different. We didn’t have the easiest life growing up but we always had each other. I felt lucky to have my sisters because they were also my friends and I always knew even though we were very different and didn’t always get along that we would always have each other’s back and like the saying goes: friends may come and go but family is forever. I was the independent strong headed one and was closest to my sister just a couple years older than me who I’ll refer to as “Lori”.
She was kind, soft and some would even call her weak; I was more of an older sister to her than her to me. She didn’t handle the hardships we went through as children very well and always seem to have a hard time taking care of herself. If she ever needed someone to help her through something it was usually me that would come to her rescue. This was our relationship and although some may say I enabled her or took too much on; I was ok with that.
Things started to change. They say when you are married to someone or with someone for several years you can start to become that person or change and be more like them. My sister married a man that unfortunately had a lot of demons and although he had a generous nature and overall a nice guy to be around; he was not good to her or his son. He also had a tough childhood; tougher than ours that I believe molded who he became. I started to see my sister that was always the “nice one” turn. She was different; seemed colder. Soon things within our family started to change. Issues between my sisters prevented them from speaking to each other for several years. I don’t know that they could even pinpoint the exact reason they had such hatred for each other and didn’t talk. I felt sad about the state of our family. We no longer all got together. The fun times we had as sisters changed. I had hopes early on that they could resolve their issues but it never happened. When I moved away for my job I felt somewhat relieved to not have to see this anymore.
When my younger sister decided to move and live by me. I was thrilled. We didn’t grow up together and having her close by along with her son was great. I felt so happy to have her near especially since we both never had issues with each other and even though we were different we got along great and had a lot of fun times together. When my sister “Lori” also moved to be near us I was happy to have them. Having family nearby is always a good thing or so I thought. As I did with my younger sister I helped my sister “Lori” when she moved. Her husband wanted to open a food establishment and I did everything I could to help them open the business and get started. I spent most days taking orders; passing out flyers and telling anyone that would listen about their new business and to try it.
Unfortunately after only a short time in business things did not work out and they had to close their doors. Ultimately selling the business for a fraction of what they put into it. It was a really hard time for them and very stressful. Their marriage didn’t survive but not because of the business failure but for other reasons that contributed to it. I think the business failure was just the last push that ended it. Even though I knew the end of her marriage was a good thing long term I felt bad for her because he was big part of her life, father to her son and he was a part of our family. I tried to talk to her about it. Asked her how she felt…she refused to talk about him or her feelings. She would immediately shut down and say “I’ve never been happier”. I knew to let it go. She would talk about it when she was ready. She never did; at least not with me.
When her husband left; my husband and I stepped in to help her. We helped her move into her new apt, had Sunday dinners at our house, Hosted every Holiday, Birthday parties, pool days, anything we could to keep their lives especially my 13 yr old nephew’s life somewhat normal and stable. During this time I was pregnant with my first child and became an instant step mom to my husband’s autistic son. To say I had a lot on my plate was an understatement. I continued to do whatever I could for my sister. Helped her create a resume and get a temp position at my company. When that didn’t work out and she started working at another place and I made her lunch every single day since I was home on maternity leave and knew she was having money issues.
The one big problem she had was she never changed her spending habits even though financially her situation changed dramatically. She continued to eat out every day and almost every night for dinner. She was going out a lot and I knew eventually the little money she had from the sale of her business would be gone. I tried to talk to her about making small changes; changes I even made to save money. I brought her food shopping and bought her groceries and even shared with her some easy recipes she could make at home for dinner. She had no interest in making changes and eventually ran out of the money she had left. She started selling off her belongings and jewelry to get extra money. When the items to sell ran out she started asking to borrow money from family/friends. I tried to help her find a 2nd job now that her son was older and was not home often as he was involved in sports at school and the local rec. However, she refused to work two jobs. I worked two jobs for a couple years when I lived alone and didn’t have enough money to pay my bills but we are all different and what works for one doesn’t always work for another.
One afternoon when everyone was over for a pool day at our house my sister “Lori” started talking about my older sister that was having a hard time with her son. She called her an “idiot” and started speaking badly about her in front on myself and my nephews. This made me angry; again we may not always agree with each other’s decisions and we all have our opinions on things but this is your sister and she isn’t even here to stick up for herself. We got in a bad argument and she left; I told her to leave. And yes, I was mean when I told her to leave. I had held in all these feelings for so long and swallowed all the lies she told that when I heard her call our other sister an “Idiot”; that was it for me.
Growing up we had 2 friends that were only children. They were also like sisters to us and we spent most of our childhood and adulthood with them so they were part of our family. I started to notice they were distant towards me and couldn’t understand why. One of our friends came to visit and never even would see me. I was really surprised but figured it had something to do with my sister and the stories she was telling them. Then I got the cold shoulder from her co-workers and started to find out that she was telling friends and some of our family I was not good to her and didn’t help her. I was shocked and upset. Why would she lie? Yes, I didn’t pay her rent every month; my mother did that for almost 2 yrs. But why was I the bad sister? My husband told me all the time I did too much; he couldn’t understand why I did so much for her even though she never did anything for me. I felt it was time to talk to her directly; tell her how I was feeling you know get it out on the table so there was no resentment towards each other. As I have said the last thing I wanted was to not speak to my sister or have the situation where we were distant and not in each other’s lives. When I spoke to her and told her how I was feeling she immediately shut me down and told me I was “hormonal”. I knew at this time trying to discuss this like adults was not possible. I still continued to keep the peace and didn’t bring it up again even though it bothered me that we were no longer close. When I was home on Maternity leave with my son she never came by on her own to visit me. She never called to just stop over, offer to keep my company. Nothing! That was probably the most hurtful thing; as most mothers know having your first child is an amazing experience but it’s also hard. Having a sister to be there for support would have been great. I sat home alone for 6 months on maternity leave and wondered why everyone at work told me how lucky I was to have family nearby. I would just smile and say I know but inside I was all alone. Over the next couple years I did what most working mothers do…worked full time; went home to take care of my home, baby, and step-son. It was a demanding time for me because I was not only a new wife, mother and step-mom but I was now expecting another boy at the age of 41. Yes, it was my choice and not an “Oops” to have another! When I told my OBGYN I wanted to try for another child he just said “Why?” Ha-ha! I love being a mom and having my boys is by far the best thing that has happened to me. Having my 2nd was a blessing and a gift because of my age I didn’t know if it would happen naturally; and it did. When I planned his baptism I wanted all my sisters to be there and invited them all. My sister “Lori” immediately said she would not be there and neither would her son because my eldest sister was coming and the two of them did not speak. She didn’t even consider coming; never sent a gift and never acknowledged it still to this day.
I realized the sister I knew growing up was no longer here. It’s like a death and you need to accept they are not here anymore and no longer in your life. I tell my boys all the time to be there for each other now and always. I always stress to them the importance of family. My hope is that as they grow up and even though they will almost guaranteed to have differences they can resolve them and be close.
I do truly wish my sister all the best in life and hope she finds true happiness within herself.