Lynn is my younger sister by two years. We share the same mother, different fathers. Our family consisted of Dad (David and Lynn’s biological father), Mom, David (my oldest half-brother), Preston (my biological brother), me, and Lynn. It was first torn apart when I was about five due to my mother’s mental instability and alcoholism.
We were in and out of foster care. Me and Lynn’s sibling relationship was “normal” for the most part. There was sibling abuse, rivalry, and physical and verbal fights and arguments. But, overall, I thought we were close, especially those last few years before I turned 18 in 2009 and moved away.
About eight years ago in the spring of 2011, we had a fight over the telephone and have never fully recovered from it. I can’t remember details, not even how it was brought up, just that it had something to do with our different opinions and experiences in regards to our latest guardians, Grace and Dean, who happens to be Lynn’s paternal aunt and uncle. She was trying to get me to talk to them, but I tried to tell her how utterly insignificant and like a burden they made me feel to them. Lynn would have none of it and immediately became defensive and argumentative; I, in turn, became argumentative.
Lynn views Grace and Dean as her parents, as mother and father; I did not and still do not. I view them as family and previous guardians, just not mother and father. They, especially Grace, were very judgmental and critical of me, perhaps because I could not conform to their expectations of me to replace my birth family with them. I felt like the black sheep and the scapegoat and like I could never do anything right in their eyes. (You can read details about my relationship with them in Chapter 3: Thorns of my autobiography.)
I wrote this poem shortly after that 2011 fight:
I Once Had a Sister
Sister, sister, I once had a sister.
We used to laugh. We used to play. Or was that reality? Did I really have a sister to share my hopes and my dreams with, to confide my secrets to?
It’s been months now since she’s uttered a word to me. She’s ignored me all this time. And I don’t quite understand what I’ve done to upset her, to drive her away. Did I really ever have a sister?
We’re both grown now. I’ve moved away. I’m a wife and a mother now, but I think I am always a sister. Is that why? Because we’re so different now?
But, what about the good times? What of the laughs, what of the play? Does this really have to be goodbye? Must we pretend that we were never sisters?
What about the tough times in our lives that the only thing that was holding me together was the love and the example I had to set for my little sister?
Oh, goodness, I miss her, and I know for sure I once had a sister.
When I finally tried to make amends with Lynn recently, she utterly rejected me. We had been on awkward speaking terms for years. I know I felt awkward. I was unsure how to approach her. I was trying to give her time to recover whatever her quarrel was with me, since I only had theories as to what the problem was then. But that turned into months before we were even on speaking terms and now years. I kept thinking, “Later, I’ll fix this” and “In time, this will blow over.”
I’ve seen her three times since that fight in 2011. None of them were particularly pleasant.
With Dean’s recent death the day after Christmas of last year (Wednesday 26 December 2018), I’ve been thinking more of them, of the good times. Bittersweet. I finally decided to take the plunge on the morning of Friday 14th June after a conversation I had with our biological mother.
Mom told me that Lynn wouldn’t even speak to her anymore, unless she wanted money. She also mentioned that Lynn’s getting married to her boyfriend soon, who is also her two kids’ father. Mom had already told me about their engagement in a previous conversation.
“Hey, [Lynn]! Just wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you. I’m sorry we haven’t been keeping in touch and for whatever else I did to push you away. I wasn’t trying to; I was trying to give you space to heal. I hope you’ll forgive me one day. Remember how close we used to be and how much fun we had? I miss that; I miss us. I love you fiercely and miss you terribly. Congrats on the engagement, and I hope your wedding goes beautifully!!!”
“I have nothing against you. I just honestly don’t want a relationship with you. We have never been close to each other. You were always so mean to me and wouldn’t let me call my parents mom and dad.”
When I read that text, it broke my heart. I talked to my husband about it and cried. I waited until the next day, Saturday 15th June, to respond to her because I wanted to have time to collect my thoughts to give her an appropriate, loving response:
“Is there anything I can do to make amends? We both had horrific childhoods. Our family was ripped apart and we were left broken and scarred. We dealt with the aftermath differently. I know I was selfish and I am terribly sorry for hurting you in any way, shape, or form. I didn’t know what I was doing – I was hurting and confused, and I know you must’ve been, too. Please, if there is anything I can do to make it up to you, let me know. I love you, [Lynn]. You will always be my baby sister. Otherwise, I totally understand why you don’t want a relationship with me and I don’t hold that against you. I’ll part with you in peace.”
She never responded back. Perhaps she blocked me?
For two weeks, I obsessed over it. Why would she think those things about me? She doesn’t remember any good times? She doesn’t remember playing “Princesses” or the clapping games? She doesn’t remember our sister talks? She doesn’t remember all of the times I yielded to her volatile temperament in silence and restraint to keep the peace in our relationship and from losing her, too?
Of course not. Why would she?
We were close for a while, at least a few years. I wasn’t always mean to her. I admit, I could be mean to her, but she could be hateful, too. We’re sisters, after all. I never held anything against her, not for long. I never kept her from calling Grace and Dean Mom and Dad. I may have mentioned that they weren’t our parents or certainly not my parents as I aged. But I never prevented her from claiming them as her parents.
I eventually came to two main conclusions:
1. Lynn was “brainwashed” by Grace. Grace manipulates people. She’s a gossiper, talks negatively of people behind their backs. She demeans them. I know – I lived with her for eight years. There is no doubt in my mind that she planted seeds of discord against me in Lynn’s mind over the years.
2. Lynn cherishes and is loyal to Grace, and I respect that. The best thing to let happen is to wave that white flag of surrender and let her go. After all we’ve been through, she found happiness and home and family in Grace and Dean Sanderson – just as I have found happiness, home, and family in my husband and children – and I won’t stand in between that love.
Nevertheless, she will always be my sister.