Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Visit from My Sister (and the Thoughts it Stirred Up)

My sister and her boyfriend came up to visit me today. I am the last relative to meet him (not because they were avoiding it, it just wasn't convenient to meet until today). They got here in time to follow Ace and I over near my chiropractor for lunch (where I quickly ducked out for 5 minutes to get my back aligned). Then, we all came back to my house (the word our just doesn't seem appropriate here, as the house doesn't belong to my sister and her boyfriend, but it is Ace's house too) and talked for a good long while. Then, they stuck around while I went to aerobics and came back home, had dinner with us and visited for a little while longer before going back home.

My sister and I were able to share things with each other that we've never talked about before. She totally gets why I don't talk to our mother right now and let me know that she was angry that I was "leaving" her when the whole thing first happened. And then, after dealing with what I had been putting up with, she started to see that I wasn't trying to leave her, but I was probably trying to protect me. And she totally understands why I did walk away. She understands that I really do want our mother to be happy. She also understands that I can't take our mother's frustration that she makes bad decisions and then is unhappy with the consequences she faces because of those decisions.

In a way, I look up to my little sister (not height wise, as we are roughly the same height although she is slightly taller). She's much more confident in her own personality. She's willing to fight for what she deserves and for that she gets what she wants and needs from our mother more often than I ever did. And she's willing to tell my mother the complete and honest truth about her habits (what she does when she's trying to make you comply with her wishes with guilt, how she's pushing away the daughter she has that is still at home, that she should find happiness, that she should try to reach out to me [she didn't know I had asked that our mother not call me which explained the odd call on my birthday]). I'm not sure I've ever had the nerve to say anything like that, ever. Especially not to our mother.

I dislike confrontation, and that probably has kept me from voicing my own opinion more often than it should have. There were times, especially with my mother, that I didn't feel like my opinion would be respected. And because of that, I bowed to her pressure and did things to make her happy so much that it surprised her when I finally started to stand up some for myself and looked out for my interests over hers. And she called me selfish for that. Which started me wondering if being slightly selfish sometimes, especially when at the end of your rope, was really a bad thing. I'm not talking taking candy from a baby, just taking personal time away from family (mostly, my siblings) to spend one on one with my dad and step-mom. Time for me to forget that I was supposed to be "responsible" and "a good influence" and "someone to look up to" and was able to try doing something for me that was just fun (like getting a perm, re-piercing my ears, and buying nice dresses because I liked them, they looked good on me, and I didn't have to pay or beg for them). It was a small taste of freedom between for a few summers between being responsible as a student and an older sister to remind me that I'm allowed to have fun.

I spent the first couple of years of my marriage trying to find a way to "fix" myself. I felt broken. I was happy with Ace, but I felt like part of me wasn't quite right. It took me 2 years to realize that the problem wasn't me, it was the way I related to my mother, or rather the way she related to me. The system was broken, and I tried for another year to see if I could live with it broken as it was. And I couldn't. I couldn't be my mother's support, because that's not my role to fill. The last time we talked, she blamed her shortcomings after the divorce on her own emotional state and me not telling her what I needed. I think Ace finds that silly, as I'm not a hard person to keep happy in general. I thought it was silly as she had never seemed to care what I wanted or needed unless I pushed and pushed those things in front of her face until she couldn't ignore it.

I fairly sure that she probably has felt like my dad got a pass on how my teen years went. She probably thinks that he was never talked to about why my needs weren't met enough and that his responsibility in the whole problem was never addressed. She would be wrong. He broached the subject with me long before I talked to her about her part. He told me that he took all the blame on himself for his failings in supporting me as much as I needed him to during all that vulnerable time. He apologized in no uncertain terms. He told me that he was the parent and it was his job to ask me about what I wanted or needed from him and I was the child so I shouldn't have to have any responsibility for the problems that happened then. And his apology healed any hurt that I had for his part. He took the responsibility to let me know that I wasn't in the wrong for not getting everything I needed from either parent at an emotionally turbulent time that being a teenager is (and having your parents divorce, etc.).

Well... this has been cathartic. And I really didn't expect to write this much about my past tonight. But, I needed to say it, I think. And I'm hoping that someday, it will help someone else. Right now, it helped me to just say it.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about my second day of aerobics and how it tried to kick my butt. But for tonight, I'm going to curl up with my blanket and eat some grapes while reading things that will make me smile. Because after all that, even though I feel better and lighter, I need to spend some time with things that make me happier than I am right this second.

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