empty nester, family, relationships, Well being

Sisterly love and sisterhood, a myth.

Sisterly love and sisterhood, a myth.

9/19/2022

It is a Monday morning again.

A new day to work on things and accomplish more.

This morning, my half sisters were in my thoughts. I am not even sure why?

The reason I say this? Because we were never really sisters in the true sense from the time I met them.

Here is the backstory and why we do not interact with one another.

I was born to a single parent who did not have the maturity to raise a child on her own. I was bounced around between relatives until I was about 9 to 10 years old.

I knew that my mother had other children; my half-sisters but I never lived with them. My mother when I was about a year old got married. Then around the age of five, I remember living with a grandmother, my mother’s in-laws, and going to school then.

I do not remember my mother or her new family being around much. I only have vivid memories of being so called “disciplined” by her husband. I have no happy memories of birthdays, holidays, or any good memories involving her or her family. I know I have seen pictures of me at these events, but honestly do not remember being there. It is all a blank.

Then afterwards, I lived with my maternal grandparents until the age of nine. One summer night, my mother and her family showed up, packed up my things and I was told I was going with them. I at the time thought it was just for a visit. It was not until the end of summer when I asked when I was going back to my grandparents to get ready for school that I was told that I was permanently living with her family. I remember crying and being so upset. I did not want to live with them.

The abuse started shortly after that by her husband. It was mostly physical, verbal, and emotional abuse until I turned twelve then the assaults began. If he got angry at her, he would take it out on me. If she was mad at me or I made mistakes the discipline was harsh and abusive. This was a time when people thought getting a switch from a tree and using it on a kid was acceptable. He also used his fists, an open hand, shoes, belts, extension cords, or whatever was handy in that moment. My mother would stand there and decide when it was enough.

It was not until much later in my early adulthood I understood why she had brought me there. That was the time period when they would go off on the weekends to party, drink, and do drugs but I do not remember most of it. Their weekend would start on a Friday afternoon and we would not see them until Sunday. She would leave us food and made me responsible for watching over her daughters. I was a live-in babysitter and housekeeper. The neighbors knew and would check on us every once and a while. I remember one neighbor confronting my mother when she got home from work about leaving us alone. She got so angry at me, for “embarrassing” her that way. Her husband took out this anger on me later with a belt.

The mistreatment and indifference towards me by my half-sisters started as soon as I moved there. The middle child is four years younger and the youngest is five years younger than me.

If they made mistakes or got in trouble it was a slap on their leg and nothing else. It would depend on their parent’s mood because sometimes I was given the blame and the punishment was much worse. They, my half-sisters, never grew up in fear. I feared that I was going to die there and never see my grandparents again.

I used to believe that I was protecting my sisters by taking the punishments. My youngest half-sister has cerebral palsy and could not walk. The middle sister was the favored one, she was their first kid. I always assumed that is just how it was, being the oldest kid, and not knowing until much later, that it actually was abuse.

I had always told I was just this burden by my mother, and that is what I deserved. It was a twisted way of showing she loved me.

The other ways I was treated differently, than my half-siblings, related to simple things like clothes, gifts, and anything school related. Every school year from the fifth grade on, my sisters got new clothes and shoes. I was relegated to ill-fitting hand me downs or secondhand clothes from garage sales, flea markets, or thrift stores. I remember once asking why I could not have a new t-shirt when we were shopping for their clothes. My mother’s reasoning was that since I was bigger than my sisters, my clothes cost more and she did not have the money. Yet in that same shopping trip she bought a new dress, new perfume, and heels for work.

I was just a kid but knew that it was unfair and it was on purpose. She would make me feel bad if I did not seem grateful for what I received from her. That was another form of abuse, emotional abuse is what my psychologist and I discussed during therapy. It was about control. She wanted to make sure I would just do what she wanted because I was seeking the same love my half-sisters got from her.

This is when my middle sister started to realize that there was a difference between us and how we were treated. She would purposely do things to see what kind of reaction it would get. Such as leaving a mess on the counter and saying that I did it. Touching my mother’s makeup or perfumes and blaming me for it. Hitting or pulling our younger sister’s hair and blaming me. All of these things that would be considered normal kid behavior but in my case it would result in abuse. I remember seeing her always smirking or smiling when the belt was hitting me. My younger sister would always cry for me.

My younger sister would cry for me until she got older and realized that she also would get away with things if she blamed me for it. My parents would always tell me that I should be “watching out” for my sisters even well into adulthood. It was all about control and nothing else.

In 2014, there was an incident that made me realize, that even though we were all in our forties, married, had kids, that my parents and sisters were still treating me the same disrespectful way they always had.

My then husband and I had just decided to separate and get divorced. It was January and I had gotten a new job working overnights as a stocker for Walmart. I would be exhausted the next day but still took my kids to school every day. I was sleeping on the couch then while I searched for a new place to live.

My then husband was contacting his own family, who I had never met, and making plans to bring his mother there. We had been married for over sixteen years by then and it was the first time I would ever meet my then mother in-law. He had told me for the first seven years that they were all dead. That is a whole other story.

Then February rolls around and my sister was having a get together for her birthday, she was turning forty. She had invited me, which I was really surprised by, because she never invited me to her get togethers. I thought because she was turning forty that it was going to be the turning point in our relationship. I really wanted to have a friendship with my sisters but that never transpired.

It was during this party at a bar with her, her fiancée, her friends, and my parents, I was introduced to her old high school friend. He was really nice and we hit it off really well. We spent most of the evening talking, dancing, playing darts, and just having an enjoyable time. As the evening wore on, my sister was getting increasingly upset and drunk. My parents had already left and I was still having fun. It had been an exceptionally long time since I had gone out and just had fun.

This new person, that I had just met, started becoming more flirtatious and kissed me on my cheek when we were playing darts. My sister got really upset by that, her fiancée got mad and left, her best friend said she was taking my sister home. We all decided to leave at that point, the party was over. We were walking out and my sister kept apologizing to her old high school friend but he kept saying it was okay. As her best friend walked her to her car, her high school friend walked me to mine.

Needless to say, too much drinking, dancing, and flirting led to a lot of kissing and groping by my car. It had been such a long time since I had any affection towards me, I just went with it. Afterwards, he started texting me every day. He actually lived in another state and only came to our state every few months to see his kids. He was divorced and had run in to my sister who invited him to her birthday. The texting and phone calls went back and forth for a couple of months.

Then one day, I was having to purchase another vehicle because my car’s transmission went out and the engine was dead. I had arranged to have my mother’s husband take me to the dealership to pick up the car.

After we got back, he was comparing my car to my sisters, and mentioned something about the high school friend. I asked him what he was talking about and he said that they, my mother and him, hoped they would get together, because my sister always wanted to live in Chicago. That is where the high school friend lived.

I just started laughing and mentioned her being engaged to someone else. He said that she was not married yet, and they, did not really like her fiancée anyway. That is when my mother pulled up, got out of her car, and joined in the conversation. She said the same thing. I just stood there and told them that was not possible because we had been texting each other every day since the party. They got very abrasive, dismissive, and said they had things to do. I knew they were mad.

I never actually got to see the high school friend again because I was working all the time. I had found out he was going to be in town but did not know why, asked him if he wanted to meet for lunch, and he said no. I then saw later on Facebook that it was because of a funeral. I did not think much of it at the time and thought he was just busy.

I was starting to feel indifferent about him later and unsure so I sought the advice of my sister since she was friends with him. She said she knew about the texting and calling between us, I assumed he had told her about it because we had discussed telling her.

At that point it had been a month since the conversation with our parents about her and him. She was still planning her wedding and that was still ongoing. I had assumed they had been mistaken about her. That is when she told me that her high school friend was just a user of people and when he got what he wanted that he blew people off. She told me I should just drop him. I got upset and told him I could no longer talk to him.

A few weeks later, I was taking college classes at the time, when in between classes on my phone, I had been scrolling through Facebook and I saw a post from my sister. It was a picture of her, her high school friend, and their families together at a barbecue she had put together. It had been the same weekend when he told me he could not see me. She was the one that told me to drop him and have no contact with him. I trusted her because she was my sister. I got so upset. I know she did that on purpose.

Instead of just walking away, I sent him a text and told him about my conversation with her about him. I told him what she said about him and that is why I stopped talking to him. I told him that was his friend. He must have texted or called her right then and there, because my phone started blowing up with messages a few minutes later.

My friends from class were asking me what was going on and if I was okay. I just sat there looking at these messages from not only my sisters but my mother as well. They unleashed thirty years of hatred for me in those messages. I was called every name in the book by all of them. I just sat there and in disbelief. I showed the messages to my friends who were appalled that they were from my own family. They asked what caused it and I told them it was over a guy that my sister wanted to be with but he at the time was texting me. It was a surreal moment to say the least. I was being dumped on and verbally attacked because of a man.

I turned off my phone and we went on to class. Afterwards, I was picked up by my son and we were sitting in the car. I turned on my phone and there were even more messages. My son asked me what was going on. I just handed him my phone and he read them. He did not know what to say and neither did I. All together there were over a hundred text messages and twenty voicemails between the three of them in less than two hours. It was overwhelming to say the least. I felt broken by it.

All I ever wanted was to have sisters in my life that would always be there for me, be my friend, and a mother that loved me but it was never meant to be. Instead, I knew then that I was truly alone, except for my kids.

That moment changed our dynamic with one another, forever. I cut everyone off at that point and was walking away from the toxicity they carried with them. A year later, my niece had a terrible accident, and it brought us back together but we were never the same with one another. Then this past August, I finally walked away from them permanently.

I had to come to the realization that they never cared about me and they never would. I could go on being this complacent person trying to keep the peace between us or walk away and be happy for once.

I chose happiness.

Sisterly love and sisterhood are a myth. It was in those moments dealing with my own mother, sisters, relatives, co-workers, and supposed friends that I realized that we, as women, are always in competition with one another. In competition instead of being a support system to rely on.

We are told from the time we are little that we have to be nice, pretty, smart, funny, and the best. Yet, all these words do, is make us feel self-doubt and self-conscious about who we truly are.

It is even more damning when a mother pits daughters against one another because of her own insecurities. A mother is the face we look up to as a role model of who we want to be. This goes for any strong female presence in our life, not just a mother. It could be a grandmother, an aunt, a cousin, a friend, or even a teacher.

We, as women, have been made to believe and see one another as competition for a man’s affection, a fantastic job position, being a mother or just being the best at what we do. Yet, all we do is weaken the strength of a true sisterhood by playing into these rules of a system created by men.

Instead of building one another up, we will find that flaw or weakness, just to expose it, and tear the other person down, so others will not see ours. It is a shame.

I have become this very vocal person who says what she is thinking, within reason and the intention of doing no harm to another. Yet, when I am this stern person it comes across to others, especially women, as being a bully or too aggressive. That label has always been stuck on me since I was a kid. I was deemed a bully because I was aggressive in sports or excelled in school yet those same traits are praised if you are a male. Why? Why can men and women not carry the same traits? Why is that a terrible thing?

If we as human beings built each other up, supported ideas, thoughts, and imaginations then wouldn’t the world be better for everyone?

We live together on this big floating rock, yet we function as if one is more important than the other. In reality we have to rely on one another otherwise the human species will not survive.

In the case of women, we have to either play by these imaginary rules or break them. The only problem with breaking them, it does not always guarantee success, and if you are successful, then some women will dislike you. It is a vicious circle.

In the end, I wanted to portray to my own daughters that they could be whoever they wanted to be.

I myself, led by example, pushing myself to excel and be accomplished by any means possible. It meant the end of a disastrous marriage, struggling financially afterwards, and being alone, but it was worth it to prove a point. That a woman can stand on her own, accomplish what she wants, but she must be willing to sacrifice some things in the process, because that is just how the system works. Well, that’s how it works when the wrong people surround you. There are women out there right now who had a great support system that cheered them on to success. Not all of us were that lucky.

I encouraged my daughters to be successful academically and they have excelled but I am paying a price for it. They now feel that I pushed them too hard and was unfair. Our relationship with one another is muted at this moment. We haven’t talked in over a month. I am saddened by it, and understand why they feel this way towards me. I am not going to push back, just give them space. They know deep down that I love them more than anything in the world, and want nothing but the best for them. At least, I hope they remember that. They are grown women and need to stand on their own two feet. I will always be here though in the background if they need me because that is what a mother does.

Until then, I will continue on doing what I need to do.

I will wake up every day, be grateful for what I have, and do my best.

I will continue to seek out the goodness in the world and in others.

I will continue to have hope, faith, and belief in a better world, for everyone.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Have a wonderful week!

Peace, love, happiness, and good vibes, always.

Suzanne

2 thoughts on “Sisterly love and sisterhood, a myth.”

  1. We are taught to compete with one another for everything or we are jealous and tear each other down. Theres enough things against all women right now the last thing we need is to be against each other. We need to support and raise each other up and be there for each other. I have sisters and friends I choose as my sisters and they are awesome. And Families can be amazing things or our worst nightmares and I am sorry you never felt what it was like to have sisters. I dont always get along with mine but they would also be the first to tear into anyone who messed with family. Good for you for breaking their terrible cycle of abuse. You deserve better..

    Like

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