I Don’t Recognize My Sister, Nor Do I Think I Want To

My sister hasn’t spoken to me for about 25 years. As I described in detail in my book, I don’t really know why she’s so angry. She has never been willing to tell me beyond the time she and her husband (who, I believe is really the abusive control freak responsible for my sister cutting me and my entire family out of her life) took me to court over something completely nonsensical and lost. If I passed her on the street I’m not sure I’d know who she was and I doubt she’d recognize me. People tend to change a bit in that many years and besides that, I’m pretty sure she’d walk right past me if she did know it was me.

But yesterday I saw her online and I didn’t recognize her. It wasn’t her face, it was her words that were foreign to me. Once upon a time when we had a relationship. We had things in common, we liked shopping together, we we were of similar minds politically. Among other things we agreed on, we were pretty much both pacifists. Okay it was during the Vietnam War era and a lot of people were pacifists but we were and I thought it was for real in both of us.

So yesterday when I happened upon an Op-Ed piece she wrote in a newspaper I was shocked. My pacifist sister was not only no longer a pacifist, she was pretty much strongly advocating going into regions of the world and scorching and burning people, places, and things. Agree or disagreeing politically is one thing but this was a complete reversal of her belief system. She really had become a different person altogether than the one I grew up next to. I wondered, what if she hadn’t cut me out of her life? Would I even want to know this person? Yes, I know we all  have people in our families with whom we may not agree on every point. We hear myriad stories of family holiday celebrations rife with discord as the family members loudly and verociously argue their respective points of view. But the person who wrote this Op-Ed piece sounded nothing like my sister. (Yes, I know it was her; she has a very unique name.) I wasn’t at all sure I could like or embrace this person. I didn’t even know if I could have a meal with her, let alone embrace her!

So what happens if you have a family member with whom you really cannot have a relationship because you are diametrically opposed in belief systems? How do you handle such things? For me, it’s easy (I use the term loosely, nothing about losing my sister was easy) in that she won’t talk to me anyway, but in my musing, I wonder what I’d do if she  suddenly offered to come back into my life?

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18 thoughts on “I Don’t Recognize My Sister, Nor Do I Think I Want To

  1. That’s a tough question. I haven’t spoken to my brother in over a year and haven’t seen him in almost 2 years. He’s about 5 1/2 hours from us by car, and he doesn’t drive so if it’s kind of a one way street in terms of visiting. We drifted apart more and more after my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and he, as always, did nothing to help out. Long story. I wish you luck with your sister.

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    1. I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re dealing with. The caring for aging parents puts a tremendous strain on even healthy sibling relationships. With those that are even slightly challenged, all bets are off. I hope you don’t end up permanently estranged. It’s quite unpleasant. And, yes, those stories are often long and very complex. Good luck to you as well.

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  2. Hi Debby, interesting, I was thinking about this topic this morning as I walked with my father. My two younger sisters have never bonded. As far back as I can remember this has been the case. There seems to be a possibility that my sister who lives overseas may move back home, so I was musing about how things would be. People think it is such a shame, but my feeling is that is just how it is.

    I was thinking, that just because we come together as a ‘family’ for some reason (I believe in reincarnation) doesn’t necessarily mean that we are going to feel that we fit in that family totally. We just may not. It is clear to me that for some reason neither of my sisters feel anything remotely familiar with the other and instead of wishing it were different or members of the family ‘putting the pressure on’ for one or the other to change, why not just accept that that is the way it is and leave them in peace? Each one has their own lives, interests, friends and way of living. I’m just happy to leave it that way 🙂 Have a great day, R

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    1. You sound remarkably logical. I agree if they’re happy with the way things are, why not leave it that way? And over time if your sister does move back things may change. It sounds like you’re open to accepting what comes your way. Very healthy choice!

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  3. All I can advise is to tread carefully, Debby.

    I have a half brother who I lost contact with many years ago for various reasons. Then he found me on Facebook and send a Friends requests. I thought about for a long time and gave him the benefit of my doubt. Two days later he left a comment on my Timeline which I can only describe as coming from hell. I ended up deleting my account altogether.

    As the saying goes “a leopard never changes its spots”.

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    1. Wow, Hugh, that must’ve stung. I can see my sister (or at least her husband) doing something similar. I haven’t reached out to her for years. I did reach out to her son once after he was an adult. He didn’t respond. I’m afraid you’re right about people and leopards. They do not change often or easily. I appreciate your comment, though. It’s stunning how many people can relate to this situation. It’s also quite sad. It’s why I wrote my book, in part to support others who have done through similar situations. We should probably form a club. (and perhaps serve vodka at the meetings)

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  4. Funny, this blood business. I’ve always felt more at ease with my created families although my dearest, next to my daughter, is my sister. We completely get each other and laugh like only we can laugh. I’m sorry you don’t have that. Of 2 big brothers, one I have not spoken to in years and when we do, it’s awkward. Mostly, I feel relieved to be free of most familial obligatory business.
    The politics part is tough too — and, like most of us, I tend to surround myself with like-minded friends. (family are all on the same page) however, I’ve been trying to get more open minded – and have the perfect opportunity with my boss – who I love – even though she is completely at the other end of the spectrum from me. Mind you, we don’t talk about politics much – and that sure helps!

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    1. You are right. While they say blood is thicker than water, that might also just make it messier! It’s great you’re close with your sister. I have friends who come pretty close to being that person for me. I’m trying to be, as you suggest more open minded and it’s true that not all of my friends are on the same page politically but they (and I, I hope) are at least open minded enough not to judge each other for our differences. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment,

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  5. So sad for both of you that you are not in each other’s lives. I am a much younger sister 16 years but we don’t get together much but keep in touch, She is still working full-time while I am retired and busy with my writing. I feel like her mother sometimes but we are close. I also have a younger brother by 5 years but I never get to see him or talk to him until the holidays. Sad – but I love him but don’t want to push too much. His spouse keeps him away from the family somewhat.

    Best wishes, Debby, and don’t give up. Maybe one day she will turn around and need you. Blessings. If you need a friend/sister just let me know. I am here to share and talk.

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  6. Thanks so much for your kind words and equally kind offer. This blogosphere is a awesome and wonderful place. I’m happy to have “virtually” met you and I expect we’ll hear a lot from each other as time passes. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  7. I can certainly relate. Dysfunction runs rampant in my family, and so I write. Different family wars have torn siblings in different directions. I’m the common bond between them all. A hefty job. 🙂

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    1. I can’t imagine being that “common bond.” That’s some heavy lifting to say the least. But I’m glad for you to be the one who keeps peace. I couldn’t have done that in my group but I did try so I know how hard it is. Thanks so much for taking the time to read, to write and to “tweet!”

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