Dear Kindred Spirit,
Hi. How are ya? Like you, I’ve seen tons of whimsical quotes out there saying that sisters are forever best friends to be loved and cherished and to put it mildly, I’m over it and I’m sure you are too.
The idea that sisters are supposed to be these elegant, regal, people with whom you can giggle with in the late hours of the night and cry to when the world is a bit too rough, is a dream, and I’m not saying this because of some misguided annoyance (or maybe I am.)
Regardless, I’ve noticed that as I get older (and admittedly more cynical) I’m convinced that the people who write about these perfect beings called sisters are either living a dream or in denial and you may be feeling the same way. “My sister is horrible,” you may say to yourself or “why isn’t my sister like that?”
You may feel uncomfortable because you slowly start to wonder if you even like your sister until it hits you that you don’t. Now you feel like an ass. Well honey, I can tell you that yes, you might be, but that’s okay, because so am I.
‘When it comes to my sister I have very little love or admiration for her and if she wasn’t my sister, she sure as hell wouldn’t be my friend.’
But to understand why, here’s a little backstory. From the moment she was born, my sister and I were incredibly incompatible. She was a terror, a baby that suffered from Colic and she cried all the time – and I was an incredibly selfish kid who didn’t like sharing my toys, much less my mother. When she was born, I like to think that I was just coming to terms with the whole sibling concept after being an only child for the majority of my younger years and that may have contributed to my distaste for my sister.
My breaking point with her (as a five year old, mind you) was when she threw up on my Blues’ Clues shirt, forever destroying it, and her breaking point with me was when our parents insisted that she would never need anything new because she was ‘perfectly fine living off of my hand-me downs.’
I’m somewhat joking of course, it’s crazy to have a vendetta on a baby but clearly, we never forget the little things. Later in life, that same kid and I had a nasty argument and in the heat of the moment she told me I disgusted her and I believed her. I pretended to shake it off, but words like that tend to stick with you like the taste of orange juice right after you brush your teeth. Still, I tried to show her some semblance of love and support as we grew up. I forced family members to go to her dance recitals (even when I didn’t personally care about them), I gave her elder sisterly advice which she largely ignored, I even encouraged her to go to school and pursue her passion rather than a profession but let’s just say she did the opposite.
Over time, I realized I was hovering over her more like a mother hen and less like a sister, and after a while I backed off so she could make her own decisions. I watched as she grew and I grew and things were cool. Little did I know that as we grew into our own people, we were rapidly growing apart.
One November, during a time when I was greatly reflecting on myself as a person , she slipped into my room where we had begun to spend hours chatting about life and our goals and she let slip a secret that she’d held on to for five years. You read that right. Not five minutes, or five months, five years – and it devastated me. I spent a lot of time being angry and hurt about it mostly because I felt betrayed but also because it forced me to think about this person who I had grown up with, who I thought I knew everything about, and realize that I didn’t know who the hell she was at all.
‘What’s more, it made me realize that I didn’t like my sister. ‘
Now, you may be thinking that it’s a little extreme to suddenly decide that there’s no love lost between you and your sister over a betrayal that you’ll both eventually get over, right? Wrong.
The betrayal wasn’t the main point, I forgave her for it a long time ago, but it was a catalyst. It made me realize who she really was, what she was really capable of, and how I was too busy trying to make her who I wanted her to be; Someone likeable, someone I could talk about boys with, someone to go shopping with, to realize that she wasn’t any of those things. She’s kind of an ass and that’s probably the only thing we have in common to be honest but it took something major for me to see that.
‘Just like we tend to do in relationships, we wear blinders to hide the things we don’t like about a person until we’re forced to face them, and that’s what happened.’
Then an idea hit me.
Why should I continue to love someone toxic just because they’re my sister? Because if it was my friend who had done this, it would have been the end of a friendship. Still, the idea of disliking someone I was supposed to have unconditional love for made me uncomfortable but it also taught me one of the best life lessons I’ve learned this year and something you’re beginning to learn as well: They may be family, but we don’t have to like them.
When it comes to sisters and family in general, it’s okay not to have love and admiration for them (even though we feel guilty for doing so) because sometimes you’re given a family that you just don’t click with. Sometimes you’re given an abusive family, sometimes you’re given a family that just doesn’t understand you, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is forcing yourself to love toxic people just because they’re your family members.
‘Now, don’t get it twisted. I’m not a she-man-sister-hater by any means (extra points if you get that reference), and not all sisters are bad.’
Some are sweet and some just steal your clothes and borrow your nail polish. Some are great and supportive, and then there are those who sleep with your boyfriend/fiance and then smile and ask you to pass the gravy over thanksgiving dinner. My sister in particular has a large personality, she’s artistic, passionate, and opinionated. She’s the definition of a ‘woke, independent black woman who don’t need no man,’ and I’m a woman whose still figuring out who and what I want to be. Perhaps that’s why I just can’t vibe with her.
Now, I can only speak for myself, but you never know what kind of sister you’re destined to get and as a sister to two other women, I can say that I’ve never been blessed with the perfect sister that everyone creates inspirational quotes about but I have been blessed with three individuals that can call me out on my crap and teach me the inns and outs about life, love, and who is worthy of each.
So, are you an ass for not loving your sister? Perhaps, but welcome to the club.