Friday, 25 February 2011

Mending Fences

Image: anankkml /
It's not easy to do, but when you finally forgive someone it sure feels great!

I've had a strained relationship with my sister for most of my life. As a child I used to blame myself (and be blamed by my parents) for our spats because I was the older sister and I shouldn't have done things to make her so upset. *Note to self:  If I am ever lucky enough to have two children I will not always blame the oldest for arguments. As we grew to be adults I had hoped that our fighting would get better. Sadly this was not the case. Our arguments have continued over the years and I have found myself pulling away from her just to keep some sanity.

Why do we argue so much? I think it's because we are so very different. She is a very emotional and dramatic person. She needs constant reassurance and praise. She lives her life on an emotional roller coaster. But she's not content to ride this roller coaster alone, she insists on dragging everyone in her life on it with her. I am a logical, level headed kind of person. I despise drama. I like to think things through and make decisions based on that. I hardly ever get myself whipped up into a frenzy, and when I do I try and keep the people I love out of it. *Maybe the husband would disagree on this last point, but you get what I mean. I dislike confrontation and will often just walk away seething about something rather than saying anything.

So you can see the problem. The things that she needs are things I can't give her and vice versa. My ideal sibling relationship would be calm and supportive. A two way street where we can talk about things in our lives that are bothering us, or what funny thing happened that day. Her ideal sibling relationship would be where she could call me daily with every crisis and allow me to talk her off the ledge each time. I just can't handle her drama. It stresses me out and makes me miserable. Especially since she never takes advice and gets defensive if you challenge what she is doing.

Things really blew up when I went home to visit family back in November. It was my first time seeing the family since my son died and I was in a very vulnerable place. As you can read in that post, things did not go well and I came back from my trip very angry with her. But instead of not saying anything to her which is my normal method of dealing with things. I actually told her how I was feeling.

Since then we have been working hard on our relationship. After I finally told her all about how she's upset me over the years, she also shared with me how she has been feeling. She told me that she did notice that I had been pulling away. She thought this meant I didn't care about her. I told her that I do care, but that I have felt frustrated that she always makes everything about her. Amazingly (well not really) she told me that the reason she talked all about herself that night in my room was because she thought it was a good way to encourage me to talk about my son. I am still baffled at her logic. I told her that there was no room for me to talk about my son because she had made it all about her. I told her that a better way to find out how I am feeling is just to ask me.

It may seem like such a simple and basic thing to do, but it never occurred to just tell her what I need. As much as I know we are different, I still somehow expected her to know how to be a good sister. Apparently she needs me to be very direct with what I like and don't like. So I have been doing that, and it's been working. She is now emailing me every week or so to fill me in on what's happening with her and to ask about what I'm up to. This is huge because in the past any contact between the two of us was either initiated by me, or came via our Mom telling us what the other is up to.

I have forgiven her for making me feel so unloved that day back in November. I know she means well but she's just not good at doing anything that isn't all about her. So if I want a good relationship with her I have to teach her. I'm sure it won't be easy because the rest of the family still caters to her every whim and mood. But maybe what she learns from me will benefit them as well.

So I'm getting to know my sister again, almost like you get to know a new friend. I have no illusions that we will never have another argument. But I am hopeful and optimistic for this new beginning.


  1. This is a nice post. My sister and I used to have horrible fights...and I would say that if she weren't my sister, she would not be someone I would want as a friend...but as time and distance apart have grown...I have realized she is one of my best friends that I can talk to about anything...I am lucky to have her. I hope you are able to find a new relationship with your sister, and also a new great friend as well...


  2. Wow -this is a great post. In my life, it made me think of my relationship with my dad, which for me has been quite strained for over 2 years now after he said/did some very hurtful things (in my experience). I thought of him while I read your experience with your sister because I too have had to "teach" him what kind of relationship I would like to have with him, and I have to be VERY direct with him, or just doesn't get it. It can be oh-so-frustrating and time consuming for me - but reading your post gave me a nudge and some hope that I would feel better if I can work on forgiving him for the past, and keep working on our future. Good for you and all your hard work at your relationship with your sister!

  3. I have a strained relationship with my sister and mother as well. With the death of TanaLee all they could think about was themselves and things they needed to go home to do. Mean while I'm more broken than I had ever been and literally just lost my child that day. It's awful that some people just don't get what tact is and they seem to make everything about them and challenge your grief with what they are going through. I am glad that things are being patched up. Hope that things go well this time.

  4. How wonderful that your finding a new relationship with your sister. I'm like you about keeping emotions inside, not wanting drama or to involve others... but I'm slowly learning through this journey to tell others how I feel... and it's amazing what doors that opens up, like you so beautifully describe xoxo

  5. Family relationships are so hard... Honestly I would not be friends with my two younger sisters if we werent related... We are soooo different! But in many ways that "forced" relationship is a great opportunity for me to learn how to appreciate a bigger variety of people, if that makes sense. Sometimes they are my best friends, sometimes they drive me crazy, but I always love them :)

  6. I had to smile while reading this post...I to have a strained relationship with my brother(although now MUCH better then ever before) as we are two completely different people. Funny thing, my personality is probably more that your sis's & your's like my brother. Lol!! Found you thru FTLOB & am your newest follower:) I'm so looking forward to coming back & reading more your posts! Happy Friday:)

  7. It is hard to forgive, isn't it. I'm following you from the weekend hop!

  8. Good for you... Inspirational!
    Following from the hop- visit me anytime!

  9. Hi, Visiting from Reason to be Cheerful. making up with yrou sister and really chatting is definately a great reason. Well done you.

    Mich x

  10. I think it's wonderful that you're giving your relationship another chance. It's not easy to do!

    I'm a new follower from the Boost My Blog Friday blog hop. Nice to meet you!

    Wife on the Roller Coaster

  11. I've dropped over from weekend grateful. I used to fight with my sister all the time. She was 4 and 1/2 years older than me and we were at such different stages of development. And yes, I was goddy-goody two shoes annoying.

    As we grew older we began to find a middle ground. We talked on the phone, and managed to keep the peace at family visits. Then she died. Nineteen years old. Gone. No chance to repair relationships, no future sibling support to work on. Death is final, and you can never say "sorry", or "I love you" once they are gone.

    I am glad you are working towards healing and mending fences. Because you never know when it may be too late.

  12. It's funny how people reason things in their head isn't it? To them it sounds perfectly logical and yet it simply isn't. I am glad you and your sister are figuring this all out. x

  13. Wow, sibling dealings in adult life, it's hard isn't it?? My sister & i are completely opposite, i'm more like our brothers & she's the black sheep. I hate to say it as you've lost a baby & all (your story is heartbreakingly unfair) but since we both became mothers we get alone MUCH better, we can relate. I also worked out, about 10 years ago, that we compete for our mother's attention, she lives an hour away but i live interstate, so when we're together, even though i'm the 'star visitor' i still let her soak up our mother & take a back seat. Now our mother has Alzheimer's it's different again, but i know after mum's mind or body has gone, my sister & i will continue a happy sisterly friendship. Yes, i'm the baby of the family & she got blamed but she was the drama queen (she's a ballerina) & i just cruised along, we weren't allowed to fight, she got in trouble all on her own. Sigh, as a mother of 4 i sort out any issues from the bottom up, i don't blame the eldest, although the line 'set the example' does come out of my mouth, she's in high school & seriously, do we need to argue over Lego??
    I wish you every success in your life, sisterhood & wishing you to be blessed with motherhood too. Love Posie

  14. What a courageous and brilliant thing you've done. I think being able to get on with our family is so important. It says a lot about people, really.

    I think we argue and resent our siblings so much because we have higher expectations of our relationship than with others. Plus, no matter how we look at it, there is competition there and comparison, jealousy and resentment... all those mean things that we need to conquer in order to be friends.

    All I know is that it is worth the climb!! x

  15. I read this with awe. What honest and incisive writing. We are all so very complex aren't we. sometimes siblings become opposites in order to get the attention. Maybe she saw that the outwardly calm rational spot was taken so went on to fill the roles available. Who knows? The answer is to communicate honestly. Difficult when she is far away. maybe get skype and have long chats?

  16. Well, I am not going to spew vitriol on what kind of sister you have, because I really do not know her. But I have seen people sparring over stuff, and it seems as if both of them have a point to make.

    I am very happy that you communicated what you had to with her. I myself did that with a part of my family. While there might not be dramatic changes after that, the other party does get aware of from where you are coming.

    If she is too dramatic, she might not really understand why you feel so upset. But maybe, just maybe, she might.

    Sending you lots of peace.

  17. I really appreciated this post. You are so strong for wanting to teach your sister. I also find that it might just be best to ask people for what I need, but for whatever reason it is so difficult.

  18. I'm happy that we're back on track. I just hope it lasts.