Thursday, October 4, 2012

on life's disappointments.

via here.
there are some things in life that we can't change. sure, we can always change our perspective, but some things are the way they are. your parents are your parents. your siblings are your siblings. your genes are your genes. some things can change with hard work, perseverance, timing, luck.
some can't.
a few weekends ago, as i settled down to watch another episode of "keeping up with the kardashians", brian asked me why i watched the show. at first the answer was obvious - curiosity i guess. interest in how other people live their lives. wondering where they like to shop. no different, really, from why i read some blogs. but i thought about it a little more, and there's another reason, too. it's really the only thing in life that briefly arouses pangs of jealously whenever i see it - the relationships the sisters have.
you see, i have a sister. we grew up across the hall from one another for the first 18 years of my life and we played with barbies and legos, but as we got older we grew farther apart. we had little in common and even less when it came to our personalities. now, we talk about twice a year. we awkwardly hug at holidays. we tell each other we love one another because it makes my mom happy. we have nothing in common. we have nothing to say to each other. we don't talk about boys or make-up or clothes or cooking or careers. we talk like acquaintances.
how are you?
catch that football game?
yeah, this stuffing sure is good!
my mom says when we have kids we'll be close, we'll be friends. my parents, both from big families, have close relationships with their siblings and are saddened that we don't. i think sometimes they blame themselves. so they tell themselves we'll be close, one day. i think they see something i don't. or something that just isn't there.
so, yes, a part of me watches the kardashians for that. for all the vapidness on the show, kourtney still stops at kim's house before she goes to the hospital to have a baby. kim and khloe go to the doctor together. they shop together. travel together. i watch as though i'm straining to get a glimpse of what it's like to have a sister. then, of course, i remember that i do have one.
our relationship can't be dissected in a post. like any close family member there are layers and layers that explain how we got to where we are today. but no issue is as insurmountable as the realization that when i sit across the table from her, the two times a year that i do, i have nothing to say. we won't have spoken in eight months and still - we can't think of anything to say to one another. there is no quick fix, no apology, no forgiveness, that can change that. it just is what it is.
i was talking with my college roommate about this a few weeks ago and she reminded me that i am in no shortage of close female friends, which is true. i have made very deep and meaningful relationships from each stage of my life with girls, now women, who mean the world to me. whose houses i can stop by before i have that baby, or who can go to the doctor with me, or shop with me, or travel with me, or cook with me, or discuss career strategy with me. but still. it nags at me. it tugs at me. i have a sister.
and yet, i don't.

23 comments:

  1. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one who struggles to understand a complicated relationship with a sister. Unfortunately we can't force what we wish was there. But there's always the possibility in the future.

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    1. as I was writing this a part of me wondered why I was putting it here - to get something off my chest? to understand it better? to tell people why I watch the kardashians?! but really it's because I wanted to feel a little less alone and let others feel that way too - even if its not a sister we all have struggles with our family. so thank you for this comment. I don't feel quite as alone in my struggle. here's hoping the future may bring us better relationships with our sisters.

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  2. Colleen, this was beautifully written (which I should expect with you!). Relationships with sisters aren't always great. A lot of times they are complicated. My sister (who's closest in age to me) and I went through a phase where we hardly talked. I think it started in middle school. In the past few years we have both really been making an effort and our relationship is a lot better now, but it is still not totally natural. It's hard when you are so different from someone, you know?

    I'm sorry you never had that real sister relationship. Proud of you for being able to acknowledge it, that sure is hard.

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    1. oh I know! I also know that, like many relationships, putting effort and hard work into it can make it better (per your example). it's a nice reminder that maybe things will get better. thank you for this Laura :)

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  3. LOVE this post!!! SOOO cute :))))

    Are we following each other???/ If not, lets do it :)

    http://fashion-a-holic.com

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    1. I take it, Janet, that your comment about how this post, titled "on life's disappointments", is "SOOOOO cute :)" means you didn't read it at all. and that you're just looking for followers and comments and page views, which makes you insufferable. so no. we won't be following each other. which is such a shame, because you seem like a really intelligent and thoughtful person. stay cute.

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    2. i knew my long-term readers would like this ;)

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    3. Are you kidddddddding me with this shit?

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    4. I know, right?! ridiculous.

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  4. I spent the last 15 minutes trying to write a response to this, but honestly, it all just sounded so advice column-y: "maybe you're relationship will change with time" or "your sister might be feeling the same thing", blah blah blah. And, ugh that's just so...smug, presumptuous of me? I don't really have the right words now. I just don't want to assume anything, since I know nothing except for what's written here.

    I'm just going to say that you are so awesome for writing this post and being able to share this so poignantly. I hope in the future, things do change for the better. All the best, Colleen.

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    1. honestly, this comment made me tear up - must be my glass of wine ;) thank you jillian - it's true, there's so much unsaid with this post (we could devote entire blogs to dissecting relationships), but no matter what i feel frustrated and tired about this. and i'm glad i was just able to get it off my chest and have people like you listen and make me feel ok about it. so, thank you, again.

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  5. After reading through the comments as well as your responses, I agree that all families are different and every family has its rough spots. I'm lucky to have a sister who I'd rather hang out with than any of my friends. Then again, I've never wanted to punch someone as I want to punch her, when she does something immature or obnoxious. Both of my parents have a ton of siblings and I'd be lying if I said that everyone got along and were each others' best friends. My mom always tells me that I don't "get it" when they don't get along and quite possibly I don't. But I get that it's hard and I wish you lots of relationships like the Kardashian sisters (but without the Kardashian mom)

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    1. haha - luckily my mom isn't like that! but hopefully it will get better - and while it's hard to see, maybe it will change more with age or if we live near each other or something along those lines. i really, really hope so.

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  6. Colleen I am sad that your relationship with your sister is disappointing. It's hard to imagine/wish/expect something to be a certain way only to realize it isn't, and perhaps never will be. I don't want to say some pat answer like "hope it gets better" - just know that I'm sad you aren't experiencing a good sister relationship. BUT I am so glad you have good girlfriends! I think the important thing is to have close relationships, whether it's sisters or other girlfriends.

    p.s. tomorrow is friday = shoe story!!!!

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    1. right? there are times i feel so lucky to be a woman, because i think there is nothing better than the way we bond with one another (sisters, girlfriends, whatever). i'm very lucky to have people like that in my life.

      p.s. it sure is! get ready!!!

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  7. Colleen, I can't tell you how much this resonated with me because you just described the exact same relationship I have with my sister. It's weird, it's forced and honestly, I find it quite heart breaking. We've never really been close, we are so different I sometimes questioned whether I was adopted. My mom always said that we would be friends when we got older but I could never imagine just picking up the phone and having a chat with her. We have absolutely nothing in common. I email and call every few months (but it's seldom reciprocated) and the conversations are so vapid and forced that I get off the phone feeling exhausted and sad. I've realised that I have spent a great deal of time forcing something that just isn't there and repeatedly blaming myself. So I am trying to let it go as you can't choose your family. And yes, I share your love of Keeping Up with the Kardashians for the very same reason.

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    1. i completely understand you - and i know how heartbreaking it is. comments like these remind me that i'm not alone (and neither you). here's to watching more episodes of the kardashians and continuing to hope that one day it will get better.

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  8. There is nothing else in my life that brings me more frustration, yet so much happiness (at times) than the relationship I have with my twin sister. I love her dearly, and we are friends, at times, but she also exhausts me. This summer I had to force myself to step back and accept that some things in life I cant change, my sisters life is one of those things. Just like you say, some things are what they are. You aren't alone with this, as you can see from the responses so far. Enjoy the people in your life who are there....its much more fulfilling.
    Louise xo

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    1. Louise - thank you so much for this comment. it's true - even when things look good from the outside I know we all have our struggles with family. focusing on what I have is such a good reminder - thank you for this.

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  9. I get this. Sometimes I feel like we should have more kids than I really want, just in case it doesn't work out for two of them, they'll have more options :|

    My older sister and I haven't exchanged any nice words in over a year, and we've never been friends. It's heartbreaking, especially since I know how good it could be from spending time with my younger sister. I always take comfort in the fact that we can fill the empty slots of our family with friends if we find them.

    You deserve a good sister relationship, but it doesn't have to come from your sister.

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    1. that's true - there's more than one way to have a sister relationship. I feel your pain about your older sister, ad it must be so much clearer to you what you're missing because of the relationship with your younger one. it's a cliche, but I still think it with my situation - maybe with some time it will get better. I hope it will for you, too.

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  10. Girl, I meant to respond to this when you posted, but just realized I never did. I have a somewhat complicated relationship with my sister (we're pretty different), but am so thankful for the relationship we have. I can imagine how hard it must be to have no relationship with your sister. I get what you mean about those silly Kardashians... they're ridiculous, but it's pretty cool how close they are as a family. I don't know if your relationship will ever build with your sister, but I hope that it will. I'm sure writing this felt kind of good, to get it off your chest, and that you see how you're not alone.

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