Sisters

I was packing the suitcase when she came in, shoving clothes in without caring about being neat or wrinkling something…or even whether or not it was clean or dirty.
“Mom wants me to talk to you.”  She moved to the side to let my husband slide out to the safety of the living room.
“Great, talk then,” I shot a look at the Bible in her hand.  “But just you and me…don’t start on that sanctimonious crap.”
“Look, Mom thinks if we don’t get this straightened out, you won’t come to visit.” 
“Oh I’ll come, it just won’t be when you’re here.”  I concentrated on keeping my voice low and calm.  “We’ll trade off holidays.”
“That’s not what Mom wants.” She slid down the wall to sit on the floor and watch me pack.

“I really don’t care.  I moved 1700 miles to get away from people who thought it was acceptable to treat me like crap.”  I heard my voice shake, and added steel to it.  “I’m not gonna let you do the same thing and pretend it’s OK.”
“Maybe I was out of line, but…”
Maybe?  You don’t have any idea what our lives have been like, but you have no problem judging us…me!”  For the first time, all the hidden details poured out: the in-laws who hated my guts, endless struggles to make ends meet, the humiliation of welfare, the terror of a seriously sick baby and no insurance. 
Mercilessly, I compared my life to hers—supported by my parents until she and her husband could stand on their own.  Support I hadn’t thought to ask for, but they’d received without question, accepting it as their right.
The words stopped and we stared at each other across my suitcase, our relationship balanced in the silence.
“I’m sorry.”
This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge – we were asked to write a memoir piece on a pivotal conversation.
My sister and I are ten months apart (I’m the older one, thanks for asking).  We were as different as night and day growing up–even now it amazes me that two people, raised in the same house by the same parents at virtually the same time, can be polar opposites.
Hubby and I packed up our little family and ran from the state we loved to North Carolina.  We were following a job, it’s true.  But more than that, we were looking for peace.  Nothing can twist you into a knot faster than family! 
Then, at our first Christmas with my whole family, I discovered that my sister had somehow gotten the impression that we were living some kind of fairy tale life out in Wyoming, sponging off welfare.  Nasty comments and little digs peppered the conversation like buckshot…until I snapped and did what I should have done all along.  I raised the curtain on the reality of our life.
We’d been too good at pretending everything was FINE.  Things are tough at the moment, but we’re FINE.  I was mad and hurt–it wasn’t until I started spilling the details that I realized I’d been expecting my family to know and understand our situation (and the stress we were under), when I’d never actually told them anything about it!
What about you?  Ever pretend everything is fine, only to get mad when you don’t get the support you need…because it’s not as fine as you’re pretending?
Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and for commenting!
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12 thoughts on “Sisters

  1. I've seen this at church, as well as with family. You'd think that church and family both would be the one place where a person can say “Look at what happened!” and ask for help.
    But unfortunately in both, the answer is all too often “Ooh… just look at that. I knew it. I always said you were a loser, and now you've gone and proved it.”

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  2. Oh my, this is chilling.

    I felt like I was right there with you both- hoping that the balance remained strong.

    I really loved that line about the balance of your relationship- it feels that way in a “standoff” doesn't it?

    I hope that this pivoted things in the right direction?

    (I'm so sorry for all of the hardships.)

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  3. Galit – We're good. It took some doing on both our parts because (let's face it), no one is completely innocent! We still fuss, but that's what siblings of all varieties do. It's like I tell my boys: no blood, no foul!

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  4. Oh, yes, I've been there. I had to talk to my sister-in-law about some of her judge comments, and it was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I can still feel my heart beating my chest, and the sheer fear and release of confronting her.

    I had confrontation, but it changed our relationship for the better.

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  5. Nancy, it's so hard to take that step! I don't know if it's because we're afraid of damaging something that can't be fixed, or if we are afraid the other person is going to shoot us down in the most painful way possible. I'm glad you did it though, and really glad that it helped!

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  6. That was excellent! And sorry that it's true. I like to stop by WriteonEdge. I didn't link up but I picked yours based on your title. I'm in NC. I have a friendship write now and I pulled up the curtain just this morning. So far its one-sided so I'll see what happens next. Life is too short for people and there's no room in my spirit for negativity. I a new follower, I'll be back!

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  7. Oh, it's so hard to admit when things aren't fine. I don't know why we do that – EVERYONE has hardships and no one's life is perfect. I think we'd all feel better if we were more honest, but it's hard to admit when you're struggling. I hope things worked out in the end.

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  8. My sister and I are polar opposites as well. I really don't understand how that happens. I'm glad you stood up for yourself and didn't take any of that crap. So many times we assume we know what someone else's life is like, so often we have no idea.

    Great job capturing the intensity of this conversation. As I read, I found myself getting angry on your behalf. When reading something affects you like that, it means the writer is doing their job really well. Nicely done!

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