Friday, January 14, 2011

Family Matters

Dead To Me
So every person that is not an only child has likely experienced sibling rivalries. These can be harmless fights that don’t really amount to much more than a quick argument. You know the stupid stuff like that’s mine and even though I am not using it you can’t either. Sometimes these disagreements can become more serious and one of the siblings holds a grudge, but inevitably gets over it and things return to their normal state. Not always though. These rivalries can become long term problems that never heal and only fester over time. I have one of those siblings in my life. My eldest sister and I have never been close and at this point I could happily go through life never having to speak to her again.

I am the youngest of three children and the only boy. I may have been a spoiled mama’s boy (no I definitely was) and to be totally honest I don’t know if my sister ever liked me. L is seven years older than me; M my other sister is six years older. Whenever L would babysit she would always try getting me in trouble with my parents, and believe me I had likely done something bad. When I was six years old I pulled a knife on her because I didn’t want to take a bath, it was only a butter knife, but the point was made. So by the age of six we really did not like each. Over time it only got worse. She was a goody two shoes jock and I was, well to put it plainly I was a spoiled rotten brat who hid behind his mother to avoid punishment from his father. This further increased her dislike for me and she never tried to hide it while I flaunted my complete disrespect for her all through my childhood.

As I become a teen my behavior grew increasingly worse. By twelve I started smoking and drinking. Not many years later I was smoking pot, etc… and was generally an out of control train wreck of a teen. By the age of sixteen my parents asked that I at least have the decency to call on the weekends so they knew I was alive, because I would leave on Friday night and not return until sometime on Sunday. My sister had a legitimate reason for not liking me during those years; I put my parents (especially my mother) through countless sleepless nights and was in trouble at school on a regular basis. Occasionally I would be brought home by the police, if they found me passed out in the middle of the street or in driveway or some other place. I gave my parents a lot of grief and I can understand her not liking me during this period, looking back I wouldn’t have liked me either.

When I was seventeen, L was in the army and while stationed in Germany she got pregnant. She chose to be medically discharged and opted for moving back home. I decided to take the initiative, she called one day from Germany and I told her I wanted to forget the past and that I was looking forward to her moving home. I was also looking forward to being an uncle for the first time. When she moved back in though, pretty much nothing changed. I was still a punk ass teen; a rebel without a clue and she was still cold toward me. Honestly, I was starting to feel that she just flat out hated me. If anything we drifted further apart, while also developing a tolerance to each, we had to for my parent’s sake.

M and I have always been close and to this day we still have a great relationship. The first time I closed the book on L as a sister was in 1990. A friend and I were hitchhiking from Jamestown, NY to Dayton, TX (the novel I am currently writing) we were on day four and in need of food and a shower. By this time L had married the father of my nephew, he was still a soldier, stationed in Saudi Arabia. L was living on the barracks in Louisiana. My friend and I were in Louisiana, so I called her to see if we could drop by to eat, shower and sleep, promising to leave the next day. Without the least bit hesitation she said no. I don’t blame her, she was probably afraid of me (thinking maybe I was crazy person for hitching) or something, but that did not stop it from hurting.

Through my late teens into early adult, even when L and I were next door neighbors, the gap between us grew further. Even after I quit drinking and become a mostly responsible person L and I just could not become close siblings. Years pass, we now both have families of our own, we have moved around some and seldom, if ever talk to one another. L is living in Texas and I am living in Pennsylvania. I am a regular ole responsible adult and parent now with a great job and family. I hear through my mother that she is having problems finding work in Texas. I am in a position at my job that I could easily get her a decent paying job, but she would have to move in with me. Oh the fucking irony! I tell my mother I could get my sister a job but she would have to come up to PA. To my surprise she agreed and within a couple weeks she was working with my wife and I and living with our family. She paid us two hundred dollars a month for staying with us.

We had a great place in Pottstown, PA. A nice Cape on an acre of land with a huge hill in the background, it was beautiful, quite rural. L lived with us for eight months or so. She wouldn’t eat meals with us, instead eating in her room. She did not interact with us often and seldom bothered with my two young boys, her nephews. She did for a short period get somewhat close to my younger son, but that did not last. I was starting to think that nothing I would ever do or be would make the least difference to her; L would always disapprove of me. If I wasn’t the problem, maybe she was.

As I have written about in past blogs, I am a highly emotional charged person, I feel things strongly. It is how I make my best connection with people through the ability to empathize with them, if I can’t make that connection I am unable to get close to them or feel for them in a significant way. You get about the same emotional response from a wall as you do from L when you talk to her about, well, anything. Recently I made another attempt to reach out to her, as mentioned in my Thanksgiving Day Miracle post. Well that part in the post about next year’s miracle being that sister L and I end up being like best friends, yeah that is not going to happen.

This year for Christmas L got my family a gift and my mother asked me if I could at least text her and say thank you. This Monday I finally remembered (yes I know it’s late but I kept forgetting.) I sent her a text- Thank you very much for the gift. Love your favorite (only) brother, John. Please try to come up for Thanksgiving next year, it would mean a lot to all of us. Waited a couple hours, and got no response. So I texted my mother (since she had harassed me into texting L) telling her that I had texted L. I forwarded my mother the text I had Sent L and said that I had yet to hear from L. So my mother texted my sister and also told me what I wrote to L was very nice. About a half an hour later L replied- I got ur text. That’s it? That’s all she frigging says, are you fucking kidding? It was the straw that broke my ability to restrain myself and the emotions boil over and within thirty seconds I was texting her back- Oh that’s cool. Ya know what I am uninviting you from my thanksgiving. You are a cold hearted bitch and if I ever have to talk to you again it will be too fucking soon.

I will not say what my parents and other sister have said and not because they have said anything negative about my response. I will say that L is not like anyone else in our family, we are all close and see and talk to each regularly, and we have a strong emotional connection to one another. L has a strong emotional connection to nobody and I think she prefers it that way. For now, she is dead to me and like I told my father today the next time I see her will probably be at a funeral. I know it seems harsh, I am just tired of trying and I believe her and I will be much happier being dead to each other than we ever were pretending that we liked each other.


  1. That is brutal, but I understand. My mother has the same type of relationship with her sister, and its really sad. Everyone in my family gets together all time, for birthdays holidays and weekly family dinners and my aunt is not included. For years we invited her along and she always had excuses. So strange, she gave my kids Christmas gifts via my Grandpa...and mails us a Xmas card...but no other contact. It's exhausting to keep doing all the work and frankly I forget about her a lot! Like I probably should have invited her to Christmas Eve at my house this past year and I completely forgot, but she always declines anyway so who cares.

  2. Yes, it is sad, because the person is family and they should matter, but when they don't care, what can you do? It is much too frustrating to continue bothering with them when it seems they don't want to be bothered with.

  3. its not you , it's her. you are a great writer, I was captivated, couldn't stop reading! your sister , M, is a friend of mine! too bad you have to be tortured with this, you are a good egg, i can tell!

  4. Thank you. I'm not really tortured by it, I'm just done with her period, end of story. M is an awesome person, you're lucky to call her a friend! Thank you for reading.