Tag Archives: bullying

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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