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Letter to my sister

I don’t know why you hate me so much – `   I have some ideas, but you have never given me a reason – Maybe you don’t love me because I took your place. I was born and suddenly you lost the prestige of being the only girl. We both grew older and Dad focused his attention on me instead of you. You became too old – he lost interest in you.

Mom became sick, you were 16 years old and so many expectations were placed on you. You took care of the house, cooked the meals, and took care of me. You didn’t get Dad’s attention or approval no matter how much you did.

Mom died and he remarried 9 months later. He put our mother away and brought another woman into the house. I imagine you felt betrayed – betrayed by our mother – like me, you had no idea she was going to die. Betrayed and resentful of our father – you did so much – I don’t know for sure – but I imagine he never acknowledged or thanked you for everything you did. He replaced our mother so quickly.

Betrayed and resentful of me – you had to take care of me, our mother died, and I started calling our stepmother Mom – I’m sure it felt like I betrayed both you and our mother. Me calling her Mom had nothing to do with you or are mother – I wasn’t replacing either one of you. You never wanted to take care of me – even as a 6-year-old, I understood that. Mom was gone and I need someone to take care of me. No one could take our mother’s place – I was sad and lonely and scared – I needed a mom. I can understand that you were 16 and you were dealing with your own grief – but I would think at some point you would understand.

You never showed me any affection – never said you loved me, never hugged me, never provided any kind of emotional support. At family gatherings you would give everyone a hug, everyone except me and our stepmother You would hug our brothers, our father, my children, and any other family members that were there – but you never hugged me. It seemed normal for the longest time – because that is how it had always been. At some point I realized what was happening; it just reinforced the message that I wasn’t good enough – that I didn’t deserve your love – that what Dad said was correct – I wasn’t lovable – that he was the only one that loved me, that if I did not meet his needs he would leave, and I would be all alone. Today I know that none of this is true – but the old thoughts and beliefs slip back into my mind so easily.

I know that I hurt your feelings the first year that I didn’t invite you to our house for Thanksgiving. I told you we were going out to eat – I guess I could have invited you; but honestly, I needed a break. Dad and our stepmother were both in nursing homes – we had just gone through several years of taking care of both of them at home my husband and I took care of them – you came up once a week and cleaned the house and provided a lot of opinions about what I should be doing. I could have invited you for Christmas or Easter or the following Thanksgiving – but I didn’t. I guess I could apologize but I’m not sorry that I didn’t invite you and I’m not sorry that I hurt your feelings – you’ve never been concerned about my feelings. And you certainly weren’t concerned about my feelings at the time. I was tired of hearing how much we were all sacrificing to take care of Dad. You came up for 2 hours on Saturday and sometimes 1 night during the week for a few hours – we were responsible for him the rest of the time. Several times we asked you to come spend a weekend with him so that we could get away. Each time you called us by Sunday morning (at the latest) to tell us that we had to come home because you had somewhere you had to be – we needed to come home or he would be alone. I don’t see how that equates to us both sacrificing a lot. Just a continuation of the same – you never had more than a few hours for him. That would be fine if you owned it – he was a horrible person and did not deserve any of our allegiance. You could have walked away and that would have been your choice and I would have respected that. But to do so little and turn around and state that we were all making sacrifices to take care of him – Did you know you were lying; did you know how much bullshit that was – Did you somehow believe what you were saying.

I placed Dad in a nursing home and suddenly you decided he needed someone to visit him every day. I saw it as a relief – I could stop and catch my breath. I didn’t have to worry about him being in his house alone. I didn’t have to make sure there was always someone there to take care of him. Not only did you decide that he needed someone there every day – you decided that we should alternate days. You didn’t ask me what I thought – you just made a schedule and told me which days were assigned to me, and then you became angry when I didn’t adhere to your schedule. Of course it was my fault that you had to go every night. As I’m writing this, I realize that’s how you phrased it as well – you had to go see him every day – not something you wanted to do – it was a commitment – a responsibility – not something you enjoyed. I’m not sure why you felt someone needed to be there everyday after only seeing him 4 times a year for the past 45 years – but I guess that’s your issue not mine.

I’m afraid if your goal was to confirm that you were a good daughter – you failed. I don’t think seeing him out of some sort of guilt or remorse makes you a good daughter – I don’t know if that is what you were doing – but I believe it was part of it. I think you were trying to convince yourself that you still had a relationship with him, that if you were there, he would acknowledge you. He would give you attention, it would mean that you mattered to him. I think you did receive some confirmation – you were the one that was there, you were the one spending time with him and giving him attention. Unfortunately, you told yourself that he was someone he was not – you told yourself that he was a normal loving father and that you had a normal relationship with him. Unfortunately, the message you received was the same as what you received when you were 16 – it doesn’t matter what you do or how much you do – he isn’t going to appreciate it. You aren’t going to get back to that space where you were the only little girl. He only has time for you when you are the only one there. You told yourself and everyone else how the close the 2 of you were, the private jokes the 2 of you shared. But he stilled talked about me and asked for me every time you were with him. He ignored you whenever the 2 of us were there. If you sought his attention, and he wasn’t able to ignore you, he would respond to you with sarcasm. You were there just about everyday right before he died, and he continued to ask for me. He waited to say goodbye to me – when I arrived, he opened his eyes just long enough to say goodbye – again you were slighted. You were there – and he didn’t care. Once again, he ignored you and focused on me.

I know you were upset because I had power of attorney and was the executor of Dad’s estate. That was bad enough but then I refused to listen to you. I made my decisions based on what I thought Dad would have wanted - not on what you wanted. Once you found out you weren’t included in Dad’s will, there was no longer any reason to pretend that you liked me. You blamed me for that as well – I had the will and didn’t share it with you – it wasn’t mine to share. I had nothing to do with the will – Dad wrote the will – maybe some of your anger should be directed at him instead of me. It’s ironic that the while dad was sick you would confront me and accuse me of not handling things the way he would want me to. You told me that the only reason I had medical POA was because I was the youngest – that if Dad knew that you would still be living when his end-of-life decisions needed to be made – he would have given you POA.

But than when the will came out and you found that I did what Dad wanted – well than you were angry at me for that as well. Makes me think the issue was more that I wasn’t doing what you wanted and not so much about what Dad would have wanted.

I still believe your biggest issue was that I called our stepmother Mom, that I got along with her, that I would hug her and tell her that I loved her. I believe you saw that as such a huge betrayal.

You know it’s ironic that you talk about how perfect our mother was and how she and Dad loved each other so much. It was like we had our own Camelot. Then you talk about Dad and our stepmother – you discuss what awful people they are – I’m not sure about Camelot but I’m not disputing Dad and our stepmother’s character. According to you, you had the perfect mother until you were 16; I did not - I had my mother until I was 6. I was left alone with Dad. He remarried – he married someone that wasn’t much better than him. Somehow, you thought that I was spoiled, that I got everything I wanted. My life was so easy. Let me enlighten you; my life was not perfect. I missed mom as much as you did. I certainly felt her absence more than anyone else – again I was only 6 years old. I know it sucked for you and I understand that; maybe put yourself in my shoes? What if you were 6 years old when she died – how many things would you have missed? How many more times would you have felt lost without her. I don’t mean to diminish your loss – please don’t diminish mine. Don’t assume I didn’t care that mom died or that somehow, I stopped loving her and moved on.

I did not realize the extent of your hatred and your vindictiveness until are oldest brother died. When our youngest brother died; you and our oldest brother weren’t speaking – all of that was put aside. We were all reminded how uncertain life is; that you can lose anyone at any time. We all attended the funeral together. We made an effort to see each other more often.

Why didn’t the same thing happen when our oldest brother died? Why weren’t you able to put your anger aside – what made you decide that I didn’t have right to know that he passed? What made you decide to use his death as a weapon to hurt me? What did you think would happen when I found out? More importantly, why wouldn’t you put all the petty bullshit aside. Regardless of your feelings toward me; he was my brother too and I had a right to know that he died. I had the right to attend his funeral. Possibly you thought this was one thing that was going to be yours. You weren’t going to let me take it away from you. You weren’t going to allow me to infringe on your moment. I don’t really know.

I did get to say goodbye to him – so, not being able to go the funeral isn’t as big a deal as it could have been. I’m not sure why, but I am shocked that you would stoop this low – it’s really beyond belief. Who does that?

So, what’s the takeaway – that your love is as conditional as dad’s love was at least as far as I’m concerned. Maybe there is something wrong with me, maybe Dad was right, and I am not lovable.

But if I take a step back and try to look at it a bit more objectively; maybe it says a lot more about you than it does about me. Maybe you are like our father – your love is very conditional. You don’t have time for anyone who does not give you more that you give them. You are the only one that matters. You are always right; you don’t have time for anyone who questions you. Maybe, like Dad, you just don’t have the capacity to care about anyone but yourself. Maybe, like Dad, you aren’t aware of anyone else’s feelings and you are incapable of empathy.

I need to stop measuring my worth based on the messages I receive from you and Dad – they are all lies designed to manipulate me.

I do love you, but I don’t want to go back to the way things were. I don’t think that is possible; we have both been changed by events in our lives – we are no longer the same people. You would need to let go off all your anger and resentment. You would need to see me as an adult; as an equal. And I would need to trust you. I would need to stop shutting you out and open up to you – I’m not sure if either of us could do these things. We would both need to forgive each other – not sure if that will ever happen.



Entries in this blog

Letter to my mother

Mom, I sat in the chapel and tried to talk to you. It was difficult to imagine you were there because you haven’t been here in a long time. As much as I begged and pleaded with you to come back; you never did. All the times I needed you; you were never here. Why would you be here now? I guess I can concentrate on what I would say to you if you were here; if somehow you came back and I, as an adult, could talk to you, what would I want to ask you? Why? That would be my first question. I
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