Category Archives: siblings

Puzzling musings

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Whenever I have some “down” time I feel guilty, like I have to fill the minutes with
some important chore. Even as a child, I felt compelled to always be doing something
productive. I remember once (I was a pre-teen) my parents had a party and they had
about 40 guests. When the party was over, it was late. My mother took one look at
the kitchen, with its dozens of dirty plates and glasses, sighed and said she would
clean up in the morning. I don’t know if I imagined it or if it was true, but when the
morning arrived, Mom was pretty upset by being confronted by the mess! We did
not have a dishwasher yet and although she never said it, I suppose part of the reason
she was cranky was that she might have been suffering from a hangover!

My parents enjoyed entertaining so that parties and social gatherings at our house
were common. Mom’s reaction after guests left was always the same: she would take
care of the mess in the morning. I don’t remember when I actually began to clean up
the kitchen so that when she woke up the next morning, all was in order. I do remember,
however, that my life was always that much more pleasant as I didn’t have to deal with
her “whine” which was worse than any yelling she did. I’m not sure where my Dad was
in all this, though I do recall that before the parties, he would be the one vacuuming the
rugs!

In those early teenage years, I established a personal habit that requires my kitchen
sink to be clear of dishes and the kitchen itself to be clean. Since my parents both worked
outside the home, we had our “chores” to make sure the home was functional. I don’t know
when it became my self-appointed responsibility but as long as I lived at home, no one had
to deal with dirty dishes or greasy counters or tables full of crumbs. I remember my older
sister referring to me as “Cinderella” more than once in her inimitable sarcastic manner.
My parents purchased our first dishwasher during the days that I found myself recovering
in the hospital after an operation. I have never believed in coincidences!

As I write these musings down, I am filled with frustration and confusion. When and why
did I decide to take over management of the house? Was the fact that I was such an affable
take-charge individual the reason for my elder sibling’s jealousy? I learned early on that my
sister was not on my side, so I did everything I could to keep her from physically harming
me. I would do my chores and hers. I would give up my “leisure” time in order to get her
out of the many scrapes she got into. I would save my allowance to have it taken away from
me by her because she spent hers quickly. I would not refuse my mother’s requests that my
older sister go with me places because my mom convinced me that I was the lucky one who
made friends easily and had to be the “good” sister. It took getting to age 60 before I accepted
that my sister and I have no real bond. It was a sad realization, one that I still have trouble
coming to terms with, after all, aren’t sisters supposed to be friends and have each other’s
best interest at heart?

Going off into these stream of consciousness reveries have become very cathartic. I feel I
can only heal by writing and more importantly by writing publicly. My sister and I have been
estranged on and off several times over the years. The estrangements have always been a
source of great peace and tranquility for me and have lasted as long as she has had no need of
something only I can provide. I feel in my heart that there won’t be a next time, that she can
now enlist the help of one of our two younger siblings and I don’t know why I didn’t think of
that years ago. It feels good to get it out and down on paper…and out into the ether to see
where it lands. I am sure I am not the only one in the universe who has a less-than-stellar
relationship with an older sister, but I can bet it didn’t take others as long as it did me to
finally give up and move on!

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Sibling musings

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I have always had more than a passing interest in astrology, although this post is not going
to be about that. My interest was probably sparked by one of my mother’s comments when
dealing with anyone she didn’t quite understand. For example, if she found something dis-
turbing about a coworker, she might simply say: Well, of course, so and so is a Piscis, so…
I have devoted countless hours to reading about astrology but in a hobby sort of way, now
I am thinking of delving into it more profoundly.

My feelings for my older sister have always been complicated. I have never considered her
a “good” big sister, the one everyone else seems to have, the one that has your back, the one
that is a role model to admire, etc. No, I didn’t get that sister. My older sister is bossy, mean,
narcissistic and manipulative. And that’s just the beginning. We are both in our 60’s now
and have had periods of estrangement throughout our lifetime. Right now, we have not
spoken for over two years and I am hopeful that this will be the status quo for some time
to come. Sibling relationships are so very complex. I have a younger brother and sister also.
Perhaps because my brother and I are the “middle children” and share many of the same
values, we get along fine. My younger sister is also complicated for me but I feel I can handle
our relationship better. This brings me back to astrology. I believe strongly that we are born
into a family that meets all the criteria that we need to work out the various issues we have had
in previous lifetimes. It does not matter that you believe or not believe that, it is enough for me
that I do so otherwise the family that I was born into makes absolutely no sense. But I have
read a little of Edgar Cayce, Rudolf Steiner and others to know that coincidence is just not so.

In any event, getting back to my complicated relationship with my older sister. My mother
worked outside the home since before any of us were born. She was a woman of great ambition.
She vowed she would never be poor (as she was in childhood) and did everything possible to
guarantee that. She was very successful. When she passed away, she and dad had amassed a
small fortune, some property and with good management my father will be well provided for
until it’s time for him to go, which I hope is not soon.

My parents could not afford child care (indeed if that was even a thing in 1960’s New York).
They depended on their two oldest children, ages 12 and 9 to watch and care for the younger
siblings ages 7 and 4. It was up to us older ones to make sure the younger ones were picked up
from school and did their homework. We also had to start preparations for dinner so that it was
underway by the time our folks got home from work.  My mother went back to college to get
her Masters Degree because having it would move her up a few notches on the success scale
and add some necessary income. She excelled in these activities, unfortunately, she paid the
price in terms of time not spent with her kids.

I somehow always “got” the situation; my older sister (rightfully resentful) challenged every-
thing with senseless arguing (I didn’t ask to be born!) which caused me no end of stress. Since
I was more interested in peace within the family, I ended up accepting her outrageous demands
(You have to pick up so and so today, I’m going to the park with my friends!) and bullying.  These
days, the more I write about it, the better I feel that I made a decision (estrangement) that is at
last serving me and only me!

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My first post of 2018!

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It’s kind of ironic! My last post was on the 30th of December, posting about the birthday
celebration we had for my father. I was excited about the end of 2017, a terrific year for me.
I ended that post by saying that I had my three priorities in a row for 2018 (lose weight,
concentrate my energies on my writing, and tackle my weed-filled small area and turn it
into a beautiful garden.

All plans are made to be changed, and mine were no different. On January 1st, my mother
passed away. Although it was not unexpected since she had been in the last stages of her
very long illness, it was a shock that she died on the first of 2018. It was almost as if she said
to herself “Let my daughter enjoy the end of 2017 since it has been a good year for her, and let
her realize that she has only so much control over some things.” It was so like my Mom.

In any event, we took care of everything related to this life event and after two weeks, I am
finally at home and ready to begin my year anew. It is wonderful to share with you all that
in the last two weeks, I have been careful about what things I put in my mouth and I happily
report that I have lost almost 9 lbs. since the beginning of December of my Weight Watchers
journey. I am thrilled with that number and have already seen the benefits of the weight loss,
not only on how clothes fit me or how I look in the mirror, but also in terms of my self-esteem
and the physical endurance I seem to possess right now.

My mother was my world growing up. I stayed close to her, despite our different perspectives
on many things, for my entire life. Although her illness was hard to watch, I did not ever feel I
would be prepared for her passing. Back in August, I broke down when talking to my daughter
and I shared that I didn’t know how I would face a life without her. But I believe in God, and
God gently nudged me in the direction of acceptance. Seeing my mother’s peaceful countenance
confirmed that she had gone quietly and hopefully without any pain.

I am now the second oldest of the many cousins I have. I might as well be the oldest since my
older sister has more or less abandoned the family. I feel it is a tremendous responsibility but
also a great honor to be the “matriarch” of our tribe…

Happy 2018 to us all.

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Personal development trends

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I have shared before that I was eight years old when my family moved to the U.S.
My mom did not work the first year we were here but by the time I was ten, she was
a full-time employee and 3 of her 4 children were latch-key kids. Our youngest
sister was only around 4 so she spent her days being cared for by a retired couple
and my older sister or I would pick her up from there every afternoon on our way
home from school. This is not an atypical situation for the newly arrived and I
guess I didn’t think much of it at the time, it was just the way life was.

While I am curious about things, I am not the kind of person willing to go through
hypnosis in order to bring up memories of the past, I honestly like my life and see
no purpose in exploring what might turn out to be a negative event. I would love to
know, though, what experience I lived through or observed that made such an impression
on me that I realized very early in my life that I am responsible for everything that
happens to me; that events aren’t necessarily as important as our reaction to them.

For example, as a latchkey kid and an older sibling, I had a tremendous amount of
responsibilities: pick up my sister, do the shopping, start dinner, straighten up,
do my homework, get good grades, etc. It made no sense to complain. My dad rarely
involved himself in household disputes and my mom was a bit of a tyrant and not
in any way shy about the use of negative words or the occasional slap to make us
comply with her orders. Rather than fighting or resenting it, I did my best to
do what was required quickly so that I could spend the rest of my time on my own
interests. The problem with this method is that I was usually ahead of my schedule
but my older sister rarely was ahead of hers and I ended up doing her chores so that
we wouldn’t have to listen to our mother’s screaming when she got home tired, hungry,
and anxious after a long day at work. My penchant for “peace at any cost” became
my mantra but until recently, I never really gave it any deep attention.

I received a phone call recently from someone who was inviting me to participate
in a personal development opportunity. I have been very interested in the Human
Potential Movement since 1971 (or before probably) and I am fascinated by the things
that people do, considering myself an unpaid journey(wo)man in this field. The
invitation, rather than interesting me, annoyed me because I felt I was being
pressured into accepting giving up precious hours on an evening when I would rather
perfect my craft (writing) or do nothing at all, something I rarely indulge in.
When my refusal to attend was met with incredulity at first and an abrupt send-off,
I realized I might have offended or even hurt my friend. Alas, I am too old and now
too aware of what I do want to do with my time to worry too much about it. I suppose
it will be a while before this friend reaches out to me but it is something I accept.

I used to love to watch a larger than life personality when he first started doing
infomercials. Since my desire to make every second of my day count is strong, I was
often sewing or writing into the night and enjoyed listening to his powerful message
of transformation. I was mesmerized by his ability to grab my attention and keep it
and I stopped short of purchasing any of his “empowering” videos or books simply
because I was very frugal and did not have too much money at my disposal.

I accepted that I could change my current situation if I wanted, I held myself
accountable for every single thing that I experienced. I guess you could say,
I didn’t really feel I needed the help but enjoyed the heck out of the infomercials!
A few years ago, I noticed that my “mentor” has changed a lot.
It seems to be all about marketing now, and where his videos and books
were available for under $50 back then, his workshops are now very, very expensive. My
love affair with him has ended and while I understand that many rich people can afford
his events, I am disappointed and saddened that he has gone this route. I have a minor
in marketing and I have never been comfortable with the notion of “making someone believe
they need something they never thought about before”. I think ethics have gone out the
window and I refuse to join that club. As I used to say and haven’t had to in a long
time, I want to recognize the face I see in the mirror looking back at me. At least
for today, I still can.

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Adult siblings!!

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Abraham_Lincoln_II_and_his_sisters,_Mary_and_Jesse

I am currently estranged from one of my siblings. It pains me to admit it but
it is a reality from which I will not move a finger to reconcile. After +50
years of being bullied, manipulated, lied to, taken advantage of, etc. I guess I
saw the light and saw my sibling as an individual rather than someone whose
connection to me (blood) was so strong I actually (and often) gave in to unreasonable
demands just so we could be in relationship.

I realize now that my sibling was always jealous of me and that perhaps my
loyalty lied with my parents and also I did not want to be the child that
disappointed them or made them think their parenting styles were somewhat faulty.

While I cannot really recall being compared negatively with my sibling, I do
recall my mom telling me that my sibling was somehow lacking in emotional maturity,
social skills, etc. and that because I was thought to have an abundance of these,
I should feel sorry for my sibling and include my sibling in my life and activities
all the time.

We grew up, married, yet remained connected. Sometimes long periods of silence
between us ensued as a result of life getting complicate for us both but I always
managed to connect and make sure I had plenty of information to provide my parents
from whom my sibling was estranged for years at a time.

This is the first time that I feel no urge to reconnect; the last insult was almost
a year ago and rather than feeling lonely, I feel light and airy that I have lost
the constant stress and anxiety that walking on eggshells put me under. I will admit
that losing a sibling who shared many memories of our early childhood is rather sad
but the benefits for me are what I focus on each day. These days I can honestly say
that my thoughts do not center on my sibling every day like they used to. I think of
my sibling perhaps a couple of times a week, without any guilt or desire for connection.

Life is short, only lived once and as I age I realize that no one really needs to be
a martyr and that my immediate family is relieved by my decision, one they thought I
should have taken long ago.

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