December 5th, 2006
I love all my sisters. I just don’t like some of them. When I’ve heard people say those words about someone in their lives, I stop to think about what it really means. How can you love someone and not like them? Isn’t loving a person part of a process? Don’t you have to like someone first before you can move on to the next level?
Perhaps it’s not that way with family seeing as most of us have no choice but to skip the liking process. I mean think about it; you are born. The first people you meet and spend a lot of time with are your parents and maybe a sibling here and there. How do you like them first and then love them? You can’t. You’re born and you just know that you love those people… you’re born, you breathe and you love. You know nothing else. That love comes from trust I suppose. You see these people day after day and Mother Nature has found a way for you to just know that these people are important in your life and that you are loved. Little by little you get introduced to the rest of the blood line and relationships form but you never really get a chance to know anyone do you? You just assume that you love them. And they do the same. Until it happens; you grow up. You get older. You start to form opinions and have thoughts of your own and you become your own person. Then it’s up to all those that loved you from the start to start liking you and vice versa.
It took me a very long time to say that I love my sisters but I don’t like them and an even longer time to accept it. It took forever to come to terms with it and know that those feelings are probably mutual. But I’m okay with it. Or at least I’m trying to be okay with it. It’s not an easy thing to acknowledge and accept. I used to feel guilty. In fact, I think, I’m not totally sure but I think if I knew that my sisters felt the same way, it would probably lessen the burden of this negative feeling. Even though this is a reality that I have had to slowly embrace it’s not something that comforts me. If I’m writing about it, there’s a good chance I really am not accepting this as well as I should. In fact, I think I should start being honest with myself and perhaps in doing so, I might be able to get a better grasp on things; I know my sisters feel the same way, and I’m pretty sure that’s probably why this isn’t the easiest thing to confront.
I don’t know when I stopped liking some of my sisters, I just know that after a long period of time, trying to be in a relationship with some of them became an effort almost as difficult as labor, sometimes even as painful. I’ve tried to put many of our differences aside and understand that just because I felt a certain way about something and they didn’t, didn’t make them wrong or me right. It just meant we have a difference of opinion and we need to respect that and accept it. But as hard as I have tried to do this, it just never seemed to be reciprocated and after awhile, you grow tired of being the one to do all the work just for the sake of peace. I don’t need to be right, I want peace and I know that sometimes peace comes with a price but if each time I make the effort to maintain that peace and I walk away feeling battered and bashed, it becomes disheartening and I become disenchanted.
Sometimes I wish I could quit them. Sometimes I do. And even though during those times, I find myself breathing easier and feeling better, eventually I feel as if a part of me is missing. That always happens around the holidays especially. I begin to get lost in the holiday spirit and every once in a while a memory of my younger days creeps in. I’ve tried in the past to push it out of my head but that always leads to the over decorating in my home and over indulging in the holiday treats. I wonder if I can blame my sisters for the extra ten pounds I put on each year. Don’t worry, I lose it after the holidays otherwise, I’d be a very very big and unhappy sister. But that never seems to keep the memories at bay, they come back to taunt me. I finally decided this year to give in. If they want to come out and invade my mind, so be it. The way I see it, those memories are there for a reason. I think the good Lord wants me to remember a time when things weren’t so complicated, hurtful and sad. I think that’s called hope.In the past I’d get the urge to communicate with them. I used to give into those mushy moments until they all came back to bite me in the butt. Some of my sister’s just don’t know what peace is all about. They don’t get it. Now when that happens, I keep one or two nasty moments in the rolodex of my mind for just those times when I’m feeling melancholy and ready to make peace with them and bam! The thought is gone. Vanished. Back into oblivion. I’m safe once again…for the time being. I can’t stand that I do that but I know it’s a safety mechanism to protect my heart. I hate that I am slowly losing my peace mentality and running away from the negativity that always seems to surface after making peace with one of my sisters. I know why I stay away most of the time and I try to work on those issues but lately it’s gotten to a point that staying away brings me a certain kind of peace. Not the kind I’d truly like but the kind that lets me be okay with who I am. Let’s face it, when I say I love my sisters but don’t like them, the same holds true for me. I don’t like who I become when I’m around them. I go into defensive mode and find myself working too hard to maintain a light attitude in the midst of their negativity and judgments. And that’s just in the first hour of being with them. It’s the before and after that seems to get to me the most. Before I go see them, I begin to create all these scenarios in my head that I think will happen. I think about things we’ve talked about days before and how they reacted to something I said, and I begin to imagine them bringing it up and making a comment. I don’t want to find myself thinking later on that I should have said this or that in response to something they said. I hate when that happens. Then from there, more scenarios begin to pop up and by the time I get to their home, I’m so stressed out I’m ready to turn back. But by then the imaginary boxing gloves are on and I’m ready to roll. Then on the way back home, I replay all that they said and did analyzing the whys and the- “did you see how she reacted to what I said when I…?.” By the time I crawl into bed, I’m so wasted that I find myself vowing not to see them again for a long time until the next bout of melancholy hits me. My last thoughts are always; do they feel the same way I do? And if so, why? I used to think, “Why don’t they love me enough?” But I don’t think that any more. It depresses more than all of the above.
What is it about sisters that make some of them the best of friends and other’s the worst of enemies? I don’t think there are enough talk shows in the world that can figure it out. It just is. It’s something that can be explained but it’s just not understandable. I know if I felt the way I do about some of my sisters with any one else, they’d be out of my life for good. I wouldn’t have a second thought about it. And yet, with my siblings while there are moments when I really don’t care if I ever speak to them again, there are equal moments when I wish we could at least be on friendly terms. It’s a very bizarre feeling to feel that way about someone that shares the same mother with you.
I’m done wishing that I had an Ozzie and Harriet home life or even a Full House kind of home. I’ve stopped hoping that Oprah would call me and tell me she’s found my real family and that the life I’ve lead all these years with the exception of my daughter was all just a big mistake. I won’t pray anymore that Montel comes to my home to tell me that I was switched at birth and waiting right outside my door are my real sisters; sisters that want to love me and accept me. I’m not giving up hope. I’m just accepting a reality that just about bites, stinks, and hurts.
I’m not quite sure when this all started to happen. I can’t exactly pin point a particular moment. I can think back and probably guess if it was something I said or did that pissed one of them off and that started a chain of bitter, angry and negative feelings. But let’s face it; I’m the youngest, so what could I have done to them years ago that would make them behave the way they do now? And why can’t they see the me that I am today and leave behind the person I was yesterday? And why do they think that the mistakes they made in the past are okay but the ones I made aren’t?
I wasn’t an angel but I wasn’t a devil either. I wasn’t a problem child. I didn’t do drugs or cause a big family scandal that dragged them through the mud. I was a typical young girl who looked up to her sisters until one by one they each disappointed me and I kept trying to find ways to win back their hearts. I don’t know why I felt I had to do that but I knew back then that family was every thing to me and family was about love and forgiveness and acceptance. It didn’t matter to me that one of my sisters pissed my mother off so much she was kicked out of the house. That was between my mother and her. If I could have brought them back together, I would have because knowing that they were both angry with each other meant that they were both hurting and I couldn’t stand that thought. I didn’t know about peace back then, I just knew about family and love. And any time anything threatened that, it hurt every one, even those not involved in the current conflict.
As the years progressed, I came to understand that all of our behavior was learned behavior. It came partly from our upbringing and also from a need to survive and protect ourselves. I don’t know what we were protecting ourselves from as I never saw any of my sisters as the enemy but it’s become a habit, just like breathing. I’ve tried throughout the years to think back on the things that have happened to all of us in order to comprehend why we are the way we are today. I can remember things I said, things I did and while I am not proud of it, I know why those things happened. I’ve accepted my role in the estrangements but throughout the years, it’s become painfully obvious to me that some of my sisters don’t want to accept responsibility for their behavior and that’s where I think the problem lies. They just don’t want to be wrong. I think they also feel if they forgive that might leave them open to more hurt. I’m convinced even more so, that they don’t understand the meaning of peace. Being at peace with loved ones, doesn’t mean that you are allowing them to come back into your life to hurt you. It means that you want to live in harmony. It means you want to be a family. It means you love unconditionally and accept the good with the bad. But I like to take that one step further. For me, peace means tranquility, it means love. It means that I choose happiness and joy over anger and bitterness. It means that I have accepted faults because I want to embrace the whole person not just the person that appeals to me. Peace shouldn’t have conditions, at least not the conditions that appease just one person. Peace is universal and I wish that my sister’s could understand this. I can’t do this by myself. I have tried. I have failed miserably but I hold unto those moments because they remind me that for a brief period of time we were sisters once again. I hold on to those moments because for me, it means I tried, even if I was unsuccessful. But at least I know that I was not successful not because I didn’t try but because others didn’t want to.
For a good long while I believed I was this not so nice person. I guess when you have enough people in your life always putting your faults on the carving table, you tend to believe you are nothing more than the horrible things they say you are. It’s hard to find the good person you are. But then things begin to shift. You grow up. You make friends. You leave home. You start to surround yourself with people that start liking the you your sisters don’t like. You begin to wonder if those people are crazy or if your sisters are. And that’s when you realize, you aren’t such a bad person after all. How can so many people be so wrong? But along with that realization you also conclude that it’s pretty messed up that your own sister’s think so negatively of you. And you can’t help but wonder-why?Wondering why, has taken over my life. I cannot do this any more. Or maybe I just don’t want to. I’ve concluded that I love my sisters and I know if they allowed themselves to be liked, I’d like them too. I cannot mourn what doesn’t seem to exist any more but I can hope. I can’t lose hope because then to me this will all be to final and I don’t think I’m ready to go there, not just yet.
I know things are changing. Maybe (gasp!) I’m growing up. I know that this isn’t about me any more, it’s about them. Well, maybe it’s about all of us. I know that I have done all I can to find a place where we can all co-exist and try to be civil and work our way from there. I know I can do a little more and that’s what gives me hope. Sometimes, I just don’t want to do it because I grow weary. I know that when that has failed it hasn’t been because of something I did or didn’t do, it’s because they just don’t want to be there. I know that I’ll probably always have a hole where my sisters used to fit and some day, one by one they’ll meet me in the same place I am in today and walk along side with me until the others catch up. But most of all, I know and I pray, that one day, I can say, I love my sisters but I like them even more.
Copyright © 2006 by Sonia Agron
Word count 2702