Why My Sister and I Don’t Speak


Sisters Posted by Hello

I’m in pink. She’s in blue. She was born sixteen months after me. You might imagine that we grew up braiding each other’s hair and playing Barbies together. You might picture us whispering secrets from our matching twin beds covered with pink chenille bedspreads. You might think I am lucky to have a sister so close in age.

You’d be wrong.

My sister and I were never friends. Sure, we lived under the same roof for seventeen years, but we were never, ever friends. We were so different as little girls. I had no patience with her. I didn’t want to play with her–she did not follow rules, she was messy and she couldn’t fold a blanket into a neat square. (That really bugged five-year old me.) She whispered at night, keeping me awake. She left sandwiches under the bed. She bit me more than once.

By the time we were teens, our parents had divorced. I will never forget seeing tears stream down her face in the kitchen while my mother packed boxes. She ugly cried at my mother’s wedding a year later. Her grief swallowed her whole.

I didn’t comfort her.  I didn’t know how. I could barely keep my own head above water. I was broken and distraught but coped by striving for perfection. My emotions were tightly wrapped, under control, hidden.

Of course, from an adult vantage point, I feel sorry for her.  I wish I’d been softer and kinder and less self-concerned. But early on, I switched into self-preservation mode. I kept everyone a safe distance and worked hard at being good and right and smart.

My family might have been in smithereens, but I appeared to be thriving. I continued earning good grades, babysat, attended youth group, participated in student government, played the piano, read a lot, volunteered even more, and kept myself so busy I didn’t have time to worry that I was a failure.  I did fear I was on the brink of catastrophe at all times if I were less than perfect. I coped with our disrupted lives by controlling my own life with grim determination.

My sister struggled. Everything I was, she was not. I overshadowed her, but not with malice. In fact, I didn’t give it a second thought. I sound so ruthless, but in my family, it was every man for himself. We were very separate, isolated in our own bedrooms, never hanging out together. She was a grade behind me in school but I never saw her on campus.

And finally, I left home when I was eighteen.

When we were in college, we became pen-pals. She had pen-pals all over the world.  I was just another name on her list.  We exchanged pleasant correspondence, but we didn’t share our hearts. I always answered her letters, though, and tried to share my life.

I remember the last time we argued. I was newly married and she was newly employed as a language instructor in Japan. She’d come to visit. My youngest sister, my mom, my sister and I drove to the house in Whispering Firs where we spent our elementary school years. (My youngest sister was born in the master bedroom, as a matter of fact, attended only by my completely unprepared father, but that’s another story.) The house was for sale and my sister had arranged a tour. (I think she lied to get us in, actually.)

After our nostalgic tour of the shrunken house (it seemed so much bigger back then) we discovered my youngest sister had locked her keys in the car.  We stood in the driveway, helpless, hapless. My mother suggested asking a state patrol officer friend a few streets over for help. That plan failed. Then my sister mentioned she had a AAA membership. Hooray! We were saved!

Except she informed us, “It’s my membership. I’m not letting HER use it.” I said, “No, no, no, it doesn’t cover your car, it covers you. So, you can use it, even for her car!” I thought she just didn’t understand.

She understood. She was just inexplicably selfish.

We argued loudly and I admit I veered off topic, pointing out her failures, as if she hadn’t noticed them before. I was unkind and mean. She was worse.

Eventually, we called AAA.

After that, I vowed never to fight with her again. No more yelling. Ever. I hate conflict and didn’t want to be vulnerable again. I’d be polite as if we were mere acquaintances.

And so it went. We continued being pen-pals. As years passed and I had children, I thought maybe we could begin again. I wrote, “Let’s start over. Tell me what you like. What color? What music? What dreams do you have?” She said she didn’t have time to answer my questions.

Every time we interacted, I grew frustrated until one day, I realized my expectations were too high. I had grown up, gotten married and had kids while she was still living a weird adolescence. She acted like she was fourteen–completely self-centered, self-conscious, inconsiderate. For instance, she’d fly in from another country, appear on your doorstep and expect you to be excited to drop everything and entertain her.  I expected adult behavior and grew annoyed, but when I adjusted and expected teenage behavior, I could excuse it.  After all, a teen doesn’t know better and they will eventually mature.

So you can overlook their attitudes, make excuses for them, stop expecting things. You can laugh instead of grind your teeth.

Despite my misgivings and vows, I did keep trying. I really did.  After all, my dad was dead (when I was 24 and she was 23) and she had no one but family. No husband, no boyfriend, no children. We were family. I extended myself to her over and over, probably out of guilt, maybe to atone for my careless teen actions, perhaps to redeem my junior high self.

When I became unexpectedly pregnant for the second time (what do doctors know anyway?), I invited her to photograph the birth. I wanted photographs, but I didn’t want a stranger during those intimate moments. She dabbles in photography, had taken classes and owned a fancy camera. I thought I could share the miracle of birth and she could be my photographer. I thought my idea was a generous offer.

I went into labor on Labor Day.  My contractions were two minutes apart when my midwife arrived. By then, I was flinging myself to the ground and howling. Between pains, I telephoned my sister. When she arrived, I was in the birthing tub, clutching the edges of the pool, screaming through the contractions.

I looked up when she and my mom arrived and said, “I’m having contractions. I will scream in a moment. Do not be alarmed.”

And then I slid into another avalanche of pain. She clicked the camera, snapping picture after picture. I was vaguely aware of her camera, but contractions consumed my attention. Less than an hour later, my baby was born.

In the following days, my sister brought the packets of pictures to me. (Obviously, this happened in pre-digital days.)  She told me, “Look them over and I’ll get reprints.” I said, “Why?” She told me she wanted to keep the pictures with her. I said, “Why?” She hemmed and hawed and finally admitted, “I want to show them to people.”

Ding-Ding-Ding-Ding! Alarm bells went off in my postpartum head. “Who?” I said, dumbfounded.

“Oh, our brother and uncle . . .” she shrugged.

I went into full cardiac arrest and when the paddles brought me back to life (CLEAR!”) I sprang into action. When she left, I sorted through the stacks of pictures and removed all which were unflattering and unsuitable for public viewing. She’d taken some graphic shots of things even I didn’t want to see.

The next time I saw her, I handed over a heavily edited stacks of photographs. I explained I had removed the pictures I wasn’t comfortable with people seeing.

She nodded as if she understood my feelings.

After she left, she told my mother that I had stolen her pictures.

She came to say goodbye before returning to her home in Japan, dropping a final packet of pictures on my dresser. After she’d gone, I finished nursing my baby, picked up the envelope and pulled out the pictures. I found the negatives in sleeves, with twelve of them marked for reprints. I held them up to the light and discovered that she’d made copies of twelve of the pictures that I specifically deemed too private. The pictures she’d taken were of me at my most vulnerable, at the moment my daughter was being born.

I was livid.

I emailed her a furious demand that she return the pictures. She ignored it.

I told my youngest sister what had happened and she reported that our sister had showed her a picture. Our sister told her, “Mel doesn’t want me to show you this.”

I emailed her repeatedly. No response.

Almost a year later, our paths crossed at a barbecue held by my brother to celebrate his marriage. The small gathering was held in their backyard. No room to hide. How awkward! I decided I would be polite. I would respond to her, but I would not instigate a conversation. I would not extend myself. I wouldn’t speak first. Would she?

And so, we did not speak. It dawned on me that I had always been the one to reach out first. It was always me to say, “How are you?” “How’s your job going?” “What are you doing for fun these days?” “Did you enjoy your trip?” “Are you classes going well?”

She had never really cared about me before. That realization changed everything.

We had no connection, not because of me but because of her.

As I described this broken relationship to friends over the past two years, I sound like the villain holding a grudge. Why don’t I just forgive her for . . . what? Stealing photos I asked her to take? Ignoring my emails? Ignoring me? Cutting off my children entirely? Being rude and selfish?

I mean, it’s just so weird.

But still.

A few months back, I decided that someone needed to be the adult here. I hate for my mother to have her children estranged. I don’t want the rest of our family uncomfortable because I was mortified strangers would see my birth photos.

So I emailed her. I simply asked, “Are you willing to discuss the reason we are not speaking?”

After several days, she emailed back, “I’ll call you when I’m in town.”

I immediately replied, “When will that be?”

She did not answer.

My youngest sister let slip our sister would be in town in May. I emailed her and said, “I’d really like to discuss this issue before you arrive in May. Please email me back.”

She never did.

Ten days ago, she arrived for a one-week visit. She stayed with my mom a few miles from my house. She made a point of taking my niece and nephew on outings. She ignored my kids entirely. She had dinner with my youngest sister. She saw my brother and his wife. She did not call me. I didn’t see her.

I guess that’s the end of my tale. Maybe it’s just the middle, but I think it’s likely the end.

And the pictures? They weren’t even that good.

UPDATE: January 2016

We are still not on speaking terms. She has never reached out to me and in fact, when I reached out her to her in 2009 to send her a gift, she responded with this.  I’m still not sure if I’m the whale or the sloth.

Did you send me an email recently or is it spam?

Mom says I should write to you and talk to you, but I have nothing to say.  I am not angry at you.  There is just absolutely nothing that I want to share with you and I am not interested in hearing about what’s happening in your life.  If you want to write to me, that’s fine, but don’t expect to hear from me.

The way I see it, one of us is a blue whale swimming around in the ocean and the other one is a sloth happily hanging from the branch of a tree surrounded by leaves and noise.  What is there for the whale and the sloth to talk to each other about?  They can’t comprehend or care about the other person’s life…  That doesn’t mean either of them has a better life than the other.  They cannot be compared.  The whale does what feels comfortable and natural for the whale while the sloth does what feels comfortable and natural for the sloth.

You and I are just too different to have anything to talk about.  That’s the way I understand it, anyway…

UPDATE: August 2022: And her final email to me in 2009 after we went back and forth and I explained my viewpoint:

Ok.  You lied by telling me months before the birth that you would pay me for the pictures I took and then never giving me any money or any kind of compensation for them.  You stole the negatives and prints that legally still belong to me and you refuse to return them to me.  You lied to me shortly after the birth when you said you would write down the numbers of the pictures on the negatives so I could make copies of them for you (generous on my part, not even expecting you to pay me for them) at Costco before I took the negatives with me when I returned to Japan.  You agreed to that at the time we arranged it, but then when it came time for me to take the negatives with me, you had hidden them and you refused to give them back to me.  When I was there for the birth, you NEVER offered to give me any money.  I lost close to $5000 for missed work (I had no paid holidays), plane tickets, car rental, gas, film, a special lens that I bought specifically for the birth, a cell phone that I had to rent and leave on so you could contact me any time of the day or night, no matter where I was…  I would not have had to spend any of that money if it wasn’t for you.  I would not have even gone back to America then if it wasn’t for you asking me to be there because you so desperately wanted me there.  You seemed to want me to be there but then after the birth, you never said you liked the pictures I took.  You never said “Thank you.  You did a good job.”  or “Thanks for being here.”  You never said anything…

Yes, I went to Costco and made reprints of the negatives that legally belong to me.  They are my pictures. 

Yes, I showed some of those pictures to Becca.  She was invited to the birth.  She was there to be the first person (other than the midwives and you) to hold your baby.  How can you say that it’s ok for her to see the birth but not to see the pictures of the birth?!! 

Yes, I told you when you asked that I wanted to show some of the pictures to a few of our close family members.  I think I take good pictures and I am proud of some of my work.  Why should I not be able to share MY pictures with a few special people?!  Of course I wasn’t going to invade your privacy by showing all of your pictures to everybody.  You asked me to not show pictures of the birth to people who weren’t there or weren’t invited, so I didn’t.  What kind of a horrible person do you think I am?  I DO have the wisdom and the conscience to not do what is wrong and what I have been asked not to do!!!  Give me a little credit!!!

Her final email to me

To which I say:

I did offer to pay for the film and photos after the birth. She said no.

She “legally” owns the negatives and prints of MY BIRTH, the one I invited her to attend? Come on. That’s crazy. If I took photos at your kid’s birthday party at your request, would you expect me to keep them? I did not hire her. I allowed her to attend my birth as a personal favor to her. I cannot even begin to understand her viewpoint.

(And I’ve been in her situation. Before I had kids, a midwife friend invited me to a birth. When I arrived, I was handed a camera and asked to take photographs. I did so, and then GAVE BACK THE CAMERA ((and negatives, obviously)) to my friend. In a million years, I wouldn’t have thought I owned them.)

I invited my sister to my birth. I never, ever mentioned paying for her flight, car rental or anything. In fact, in those days she visited the U.S. every year and often went on holiday to other places as well. She could have declined, citing the lack of vacation or the expense. I just figured she’d work around my due date since she’d be in the States anyway on one of her frequent trips. But mainly, she NEVER EVER EVER mentioned this before this email. She simply agreed to come to the birth and seemed excited to do so.

I did not desperately want her there. I invited her as a favor to her. At my previous birth, I simply had a church friend photograph it for me (and guess what? that lady did not keep any of my photos!). I invited my sister in the spirit of generosity knowing that in all likelihood she’d never get to be present when a baby was born.

I was very disappointed by the actual photographs. They were poorly lit, not focused well and extraordinarily unflattering.

The bottom line was that she believed she owned the photographs that I had asked her to take. (This is still baffling to me to this day.) This was not a contract between strangers but an agreement between sisters and I guess that’s where I went wrong.

Can you imagine showing photographs of someone’s private birth to random friends across the globe? Imagine.

Finally, I started to really think about her outrageous beliefs and behavior and came to believe she has narcissistic personality disorder. So maybe I should feel sorry for her. It must be difficult to be her.

And yeah, we still don’t speak, twenty years later.

54 thoughts on “Why My Sister and I Don’t Speak

  1. Oh, my blood is boiling! That just makes me so mad! How can she be so awful!?
    I’m sorry about your sister. I hope she comes around and her hardened heart can melt some.

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  2. Oh, my blood is boiling! That just makes me so mad! How can she be so awful!?
    I’m sorry about your sister. I hope she comes around and her hardened heart can melt some.

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  3. I feel your pain Mel. I wish I had some magic words for you to say to make it all better, but I don’t, I just wanted you to know that my heart hurts for you right now.

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  4. They say that blood runs thicker than water, but I think it’s “sicker” than ater. If she wasn’t your sister you would have blown her off years ago.

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  5. Well, let’s see now. it would seem that “Joy” needs a good ass kickin. And since I am in an ass kickin kind of mood I’m your girl for the job. Let me know when and where and I’ll have at it. 🙂

    On a more serious note, I have abrother like that. He is a severe alcoholic and I am in the midst of trying to keep what little respect I have for him intact seeing as how he is severing most of his ties with the family. It ain’t easy bein’ cheesy………..

    Hang in there.

    Tangie

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  6. Mel, I can relate. I have a brother who has major problems and essentially has shit on my family for 18 years now.

    We seem to “not want to beleive it is true” but it is.

    We have removed ourselves from his life by no longer volunteering to be hurt. There is nothing wrong with doing that. Give yourself the freedom!!

    We realize my brother has serious issues and until he wants to grow up (yes, he is 42) — then there is little we can do.

    We’ve come to the conclusion that while you have family, it doesn’t mean you can make it work — and we have tried — just like you. Endlessly.

    My heart goes out to you. I know the pain. Well.

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  7. Mel,
    What a terrible situation. It is heartbreaking when you desire familial relationships and there is nothing you can do to keep them healthy. Please remember that it is possible to forgive – even have pity – without excusing the behavior or allowing it to continue in your life. The forgiveness is for your benefit, not hers.

    And, actually, I do pity her. She is clearly jealous, vengeful and full of misery.

    Blessings to you, Mel.

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  8. I feel your pain Mel. I wish I had some magic words for you to say to make it all better, but I don’t, I just wanted you to know that my heart hurts for you right now.

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  9. Mel, I haven’t spoken to my brother since April 2001. My thoughts are that you can love someone, but sometimes you just have to love them from a distance. I think your sister is jealous that you have a life, a husband and great kids. I wouldn’t give her a second thought and let her live with the guilt.

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  10. They say that blood runs thicker than water, but I think it’s “sicker” than ater. If she wasn’t your sister you would have blown her off years ago.

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  11. Well, let’s see now. it would seem that “Joy” needs a good ass kickin. And since I am in an ass kickin kind of mood I’m your girl for the job. Let me know when and where and I’ll have at it. 🙂

    On a more serious note, I have abrother like that. He is a severe alcoholic and I am in the midst of trying to keep what little respect I have for him intact seeing as how he is severing most of his ties with the family. It ain’t easy bein’ cheesy………..

    Hang in there.

    Tangie

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  12. Oh my.

    Well, *scratching head* ahhhhh….
    Nope, forget it, I got nuthin’, total loss of words.

    Sorry things are so tough. Hope God has something good up His sleeve here…

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  13. Mel, I can relate. I have a brother who has major problems and essentially has shit on my family for 18 years now.

    We seem to “not want to beleive it is true” but it is.

    We have removed ourselves from his life by no longer volunteering to be hurt. There is nothing wrong with doing that. Give yourself the freedom!!

    We realize my brother has serious issues and until he wants to grow up (yes, he is 42) — then there is little we can do.

    We’ve come to the conclusion that while you have family, it doesn’t mean you can make it work — and we have tried — just like you. Endlessly.

    My heart goes out to you. I know the pain. Well.

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  14. Mel,
    What a terrible situation. It is heartbreaking when you desire familial relationships and there is nothing you can do to keep them healthy. Please remember that it is possible to forgive – even have pity – without excusing the behavior or allowing it to continue in your life. The forgiveness is for your benefit, not hers.

    And, actually, I do pity her. She is clearly jealous, vengeful and full of misery.

    Blessings to you, Mel.

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  15. Mel, I haven’t spoken to my brother since April 2001. My thoughts are that you can love someone, but sometimes you just have to love them from a distance. I think your sister is jealous that you have a life, a husband and great kids. I wouldn’t give her a second thought and let her live with the guilt.

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  16. Oh my.

    Well, *scratching head* ahhhhh….
    Nope, forget it, I got nuthin’, total loss of words.

    Sorry things are so tough. Hope God has something good up His sleeve here…

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  17. This makes me so sad! I’m so sorry for you. How completely frustrating to attempt at healing a relationship only to be rejected. I, too, hope this is the middle of your story, and not the end. God can work wonders…

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  18. This makes me so sad! I’m so sorry for you. How completely frustrating to attempt at healing a relationship only to be rejected. I, too, hope this is the middle of your story, and not the end. God can work wonders…

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  19. My dad is one of those people that I do not speak to, for somewhat similar reasons…you know, in the broader sense of the word. I agree with above. I don’t think you should have to have a relationship with people just b/c they are family. My life is better off w/o my dad, I have tried to be the bigger person, and it’s turned out that our lives were just meant to be spent separate from each other. That is so upsetting, though. I’m not sue crazy, but all I can think is how you should have sued her for showing off your private pictures w/o your permission!

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  20. My dad is one of those people that I do not speak to, for somewhat similar reasons…you know, in the broader sense of the word. I agree with above. I don’t think you should have to have a relationship with people just b/c they are family. My life is better off w/o my dad, I have tried to be the bigger person, and it’s turned out that our lives were just meant to be spent separate from each other. That is so upsetting, though. I’m not sue crazy, but all I can think is how you should have sued her for showing off your private pictures w/o your permission!

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  21. Wow! Mel, with a sister like that the best fake name you can come up with is “Joy?” lol, I can think of a few better ones. ~Sue

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  22. Wow! Mel, with a sister like that the best fake name you can come up with is “Joy?” lol, I can think of a few better ones. ~Sue

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  23. I remember when the thing with the pictures happened and how hurtful it was then. We both have experienced betrayal in related ways and it just doesn’t go away.
    I’d like to comment about the people who think that you show an unchristian attitude with your lack of forgiveness – I personally think these people live in a fantasy land of denial and have a warped sense of what being a “christian” actually means but that is another post, isn’t it?)

    My sister and I are not close and it worries me sometimes because I think about what ‘could be but isn’t’ and then I remind myself – the only thing we have in common is the same parents and beyond that-we’re just two people going about our lives and doing the best we can. I’m sure she thinks its me and I know I think it is me. Its me not putting up with the nonsense and bullshit, the drama and her expectancy that she should be able to make whatever choices that she wants with no regard to other’s feelings or the empending consequences….
    Maybe one day. Until then, I’m doing the best that I can. This past weekend was difficult for me but I made it and so did she.
    Birth can be complicated and the power belongs to the mother. Period.
    She might have one up on you, but I’m not sure she realizes all that she gave up to have that one up. She has nothing else and I wonder if it keeps her warm at night?
    Probably not.

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  24. I remember when the thing with the pictures happened and how hurtful it was then. We both have experienced betrayal in related ways and it just doesn’t go away.
    I’d like to comment about the people who think that you show an unchristian attitude with your lack of forgiveness – I personally think these people live in a fantasy land of denial and have a warped sense of what being a “christian” actually means but that is another post, isn’t it?)

    My sister and I are not close and it worries me sometimes because I think about what ‘could be but isn’t’ and then I remind myself – the only thing we have in common is the same parents and beyond that-we’re just two people going about our lives and doing the best we can. I’m sure she thinks its me and I know I think it is me. Its me not putting up with the nonsense and bullshit, the drama and her expectancy that she should be able to make whatever choices that she wants with no regard to other’s feelings or the empending consequences….
    Maybe one day. Until then, I’m doing the best that I can. This past weekend was difficult for me but I made it and so did she.
    Birth can be complicated and the power belongs to the mother. Period.
    She might have one up on you, but I’m not sure she realizes all that she gave up to have that one up. She has nothing else and I wonder if it keeps her warm at night?
    Probably not.

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  25. Oh Mel, I am so sorry that she has (and is still) putting you through something like that.

    I have never understood why people insist that you must forgive family members when they do horrible things just because they are related to you.

    To me, that just isn’t a good enough reason to let someone walk all over you and your feelings.

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  26. Oh Mel, I am so sorry that she has (and is still) putting you through something like that.

    I have never understood why people insist that you must forgive family members when they do horrible things just because they are related to you.

    To me, that just isn’t a good enough reason to let someone walk all over you and your feelings.

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  27. mel you sound like an uptight bitch,sounds to me by you writing this your looking and needing everyone to tell you that your right.i think your jealous that your sister cares less for trying to please everyone and shes ok with it.sounds to me like she leads a very interesting and fascinating life and your stuck in suburbia,with a pastor for a husband,little kids and your bored and upset with your choices in life.growup and stop acting like a child except people for who they are and stop being jealous and the moment you admit you are jealous the quicker you can heal and do something about it.ps and as for her not answering your emails back on such subjects….mel she probably just does not have time to cater to your obvious disection of every incident,i would love to hear her side of the story,and why did you remove olives post?

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  28. Anonymous, Do you realize no one is reading this comment but me? Leave your name and email address and the URL for your blog if you are seriously expecting an answer.

    Oh, and I didn’t remove the comment by “Olive.” Do you see it says “removed by author”? That means the person who write it–OLIVE–removed it.

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  29. Mel, someone just sent me the link to this because I’ve got issues with my younger sister right now. She’s very self-centered and doesn’t do a thing for anyone, especially family. I’ve gone through periods of not speaking with her. As someone said, we are really 2 different people with nothing in common other than our parents. I try to be patient with her, but it is always like walking on glass when I’m around her. She’s the one who’s been in therapy, so I know it’s not me.

    Hang in there. I think you are the one who is blessed. You have your own family to be close with and she does not. I think she is jealous.

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  30. Mel, someone just sent me the link to this because I’ve got issues with my younger sister right now. She’s very self-centered and doesn’t do a thing for anyone, especially family. I’ve gone through periods of not speaking with her. As someone said, we are really 2 different people with nothing in common other than our parents. I try to be patient with her, but it is always like walking on glass when I’m around her. She’s the one who’s been in therapy, so I know it’s not me.

    Hang in there. I think you are the one who is blessed. You have your own family to be close with and she does not. I think she is jealous.

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  31. Mel, Sorry you have to deal with that in you life. We all have our cross to bear. Just want to let you know, I spoke with my Priest about a simular situation in my family. He said that I can still love my family member from a distance and am not required to have contact with them. I can still pray for them and pray for a better relationship. Remember we can only control what we do, and sometimes that’s not even too easy. God bless you.

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  32. Dear sweet “alma” (as if that’s your real name, you coward),

    I, too, would love to hear HER side of the story . . . but she has rebuffed three of my requests to hear her side of the story. She is exactly as I portrayed her here. Only less mature.

    Talk about guts . . . I have enough guts to speak the truth, and to allow your ridiculous comment, and you don’t have the guts to sign your real name, leave an email address or a URL.

    Furthermore, you do realize that no one reads these old comments but me, right? But thank you so much for leaving your snide comment. I hope you feel better now. Perhaps you should schedule an appointment with your therapist tomorrow to work through some of your hostility.

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  33. Gee, it sounds to me like Alma has issues with her own older sister. A little seething envy, perhaps?

    My sister was born 15 months after I was and we were the best of friends, the two eldest of large family. We shared those confidences in the bedroom with the matching twin beds…but it wasn’t until Sis went away to college 1,400 miles distant that she finally felt comfortable telling me how hard it had been on her, being a year behind me. I fitted your description of yourself to a T, except for the student government participation (I was way too shy) and piano-playing (I lost interest in my lessons in second grade. Our second-hand piano was in the garage and it was too hard to practice with my mittens on during the cold New England winters!)

    Sis said that she was greeted with a big smile by her teachers at the beginning of each school year — a big smile and the comment, “Oh, you are Elle’s sister? Wonderful! Then I expect that you will get straight A’s, too!”

    Nothing like starting off each year with a feeling of impending doom, is there?

    We didn’t realize until she was halfway through elementary school that Sis couldn’t see the blackboard because she needed glasses, and she was an adult before she was diagnosed with dyslexia. No wonder it took her hours to do the same homework that I could knock off in 45 minutes!

    I was very lucky that she was able to rise above any resentment toward me. I was luckier still that she was a kind and caring person and WANTED to rise above her negative feelings.

    We have a good relationship these days. The process of reconnecting began when we had our first children at the same time.

    But she still lives 1,400 miles from me. Maybe so our children aren’t compared to each other?

    I hope that, some day, your sister wakes up. Life is too short to be mean and spiteful. Alma, take note.

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  34. Mel..I wonder..if Alma and the previous anonymous commenter are not your sister.

    You sister sounds a lot like she became stunted emotionally as a child and never fully matured into an emotional adult. I truly hope she can someday get the help she needs so that you can find civility together.

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  35. Hi Mel,

    I remember hearing a comment that went, “You can have two Daughters, but you can’t make them Sisters”. I can really relate to this comment and know what you are going through. My Sister can be nice one minute and then totally spitefull the next. If She can find a fault with me She’ll let me know what it is. We lost our Mum when my Sister was 21 and I was 17, and it should have made her realise how lucky we are to have each other.

    We had a semi ok relationship when my Sister moved to London ten years ago. She started to contact me more frequently and would tell me what was happening in her life. I don’t think She had many Friends and I was available. She would tell me her problems and I would listen and give advice and try to reassure her. Just what I think a Sister is meant to do.

    We were both married this year and have good lives, but now I feel surplus to requirements. She has people in her life now that hardly bothered with her when she could have done with them. I get the odd duty phonecall where we mostly talk about her. I wouldn’t mind but I keep thinking to myself that I wasn’t a good enough Sister to her and that’s why She’s being like this. I break down alot and cry in frustration. My Husband tries to reassure me that it’s not me. He has suggested that I treat her like dirt and She’ll come running, but it’s not in my nature to treat someone like that.

    I don’t want to lose my Sister and she knows this. I have tried to explain how I feel but She gets so angry and nothing changes. So what can one do? Should you just walk away and get on with your life, or put up and shut up?

    Take care,

    Michele.

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  36. Hey Mel,
    I have a similar story with my sister (who coincidentally is about 16 months younger than me). We always fight because she is never willing to let someone make a comment about something or to have an opinion in opposition to her. Recently our relationship has hit a complete standstill and I have decided that I never want to speak with her for the rest of my life (I am 25 she is 24). She physically attacked me over a stupid argument. I would not have made such a big deal about it, but my parents have decided to be against me in this whole scenario and have even somewhat alienated me. So, like you, I have lost a sister, but I also feel like I have lost a great deal of my family.

    I am not sure how things will be in the future, as I want to be able to get along with everyone, but I know that with all the changes that I have had to make in my life as a result of this incident, I will never want to be close to my sister again. I do not wish her bad, but I also do not care to root for her future success. I have never had any single person in my life do and say the most horrible things to me the way that she has and never for once apologize or be the bigger person. I realize that now that she has escalated to physical violence it is pretty clear that she and I can never ever be friends, let alone communicate with each other outside of any necessary communication.

    I guess I just wanted to share this because I feel your pain and as someone who is going through the early stages of a seperation like this, it is nice to know that I can still feel like a whole person without talking with my horrible sister.

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  37. Mel, I am 54 yrs old and have a very similar relationship with my younger sister. Then, after my father died, I learned that he had left her about $400,000.00 outright and about the same amount in a trust, with me as beneficiary and little sis & her husband as trustees.

    When I first learned about the trust, I thought maybe we’d become closer and even communicate once in awhile, but that was not to be. Every conversation with her turned into an argument, with her yelling at me and/or hanging up on me.

    They send me some money every month, but it’s clearly not the “total net income” as specified in my father’s will. I was going to go to court over this, but it was so costly and stress-inducing (I have MS) that I gave up on that and just take the money that they send, figuring I’m grateful to have that at least.

    But now I hate her. I took every childhood picture that had her or my father in them and burned them, along with other things, in a “hate fire.” I’m pretty much over that stage of anger now.

    Sometimes we have to accept what IS and go on with the good parts of our lives without benefit of sisters.

    There’s lots more to my story, but perhaps you can find some comfort in the fact that your sis doesn’t have any control over your finacial matters.

    Best of luck,
    M

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  38. I feel that maybe at the beginning of your relationship you didn’t have much empathy for her or understanding and this may have hurt her alot. Maybe when you decided to try it was to late. If you weren’t their for her in her younger years or for 18 years by the time you started trying she may have been so hurt that she let go of having a relationship with you. I’m sure she did really love you. The best you can do is just say sorry to her for not being their for her when she was younger. Say sorry because your family and you should have supported her. Tell her that you were wrong and that you drove a wedge between you both. The best you can do is to be sorry and then give her time to forgive you. Let her come to you in her own time. But if you say sorry to her then you have done the best you can. Her taking the photos was just a reaction to how distant you have been to her, her whole life. But we all make mistakes your a good hearted person and i believe a truly caring person. If she can see your not just trying to make up for your own guilt, but really start to accept her as she is. You need to accept your sister as she is and love her for all her faults. She’s your sister, she’ll never be perfect but thats what sisterhood is. Loving someone although their not perfect. Your family and you need to accept each other even if the rest of the world won’t. Family is what you have nomatter what. Give her one more chance. don’t let someone walk all over you. But you both have things to be sorry for so give it one last try. Good luck with everything.

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  39. I feel no sympathy for you whatsoever. You are a big factor in ruining your sister Joy’s self esteem. Realize that. Pay your dues. Your selfishness, coldness and arrogance towards her when you were young were reasons that she is the crazy person she is today.

    NOTE BY MELODEE: This commenter left a fake email address. Unfortunately, she was unable to receive my thoughtful email. But isn’t it nice to know that strangers can be so kind and caring after reading a blog post? Ha ha.

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  40. Your story really saddens me, as I see myself as a younger version of you. Our parents divorced too, and I also wished I was kinder to my sister. We are both in our twenties, and just reading your story makes me realize that my sister and I will never have a relationship. As much as I want to believe that she will change and one day ask me how I’m doing, I don’t want to be disappointed by the fact that my sister doesn’t care about me and doesn’t want to get to know me as much as I do with her. I better say goodbye to our childhood closeness and move on before I get hurt again.

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  41. I have a sister who sadly she and I have never been close. There are many similarities but I relate to your sister. I spent most of our lives trying to fit into her life and be accepted by her, but I know that she is embarrassed by me. (I ” am annoying and too sensitive and she can’t stand me”). She is 54 years old and I am 52. After hearing those words for the 10 thousandth time 2 Easter Sundays ago, when I cooked for our family and spent the day doing my best to make it a nice day, I responded. I told her that she annoys me too and I am tired of her looking down on me and insulting and hurting me. If she really wants to be “an only child” I grant her that wish. She no longer needs to spend holidays with me, as I no longer see any point as it is always unpleasant for me and unsatisfactory to her , and an imposition for both of us. I have been supportive and happy for her and many times accommodated her availability. But I am tired. Her constant competitive nature and jealousy is exhausting. I have found that I thrive now that I do not need her acceptance. She is incapable of giving me the kind of sister relationship that I have always wanted and for a long time pretended that we had. Her words can’t hurt me anymore because she no longer has an opportunity to say them to me.

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  42. Maybe your attitude towards her growing up had a long lasting effect somewhere in the heart of who she is now. It sounds to me like she was just very different than you, and her little world started crumbling. She needed her big sister in a time when her parents felt unsteady. And her big sister was just disgusted with her. I imagine she is selfish because she had To be for so long… She spent many years without you caring about her. Maybe she just got hard wired to look out for herself.

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  43. Some people doesnt mean born in same family.
    I genuinly fekin hate my sister.
    I wish shes gone.
    I dont know. I just i cant stand up wd same condition for many years. She so manipulative self obsessed n make her self as queen. She was never respect me as the older. Ive been tried nice for long. Then those bitch got me 0 feedback.

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  44. Pingback: Life atm
  45. Hello that’s sad and actually disgusting that you did not comfort your sister during the divorce of your parents .Yes you 2 have always been completely different but that is the only major issue between you two.I know sisters that completely violate each other ,sleeping wirh each others men and steal from each otheri can understand not speaking in those circumstances.You and your sis do not have REAL issues to not speak.

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