Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I've been terribly remiss in my blogging. There have been two blizzards since my last blog. Above are photos of the paths to my two offices - several days after the last big snow. Every task of my day-to-day living has been redefined by the "Snowpocalypse, or Snowmaggedon", as this winter, can boast the most snow in recorded history for the region.
This particular blog piece has been in the works for a couple of weeks, taking a backseat to shoveling, saving my home from the ravages of ice, having the darlings out of school, and a bit of dating adventure/(misadventure? :) . . .This writing was inspired by photos retrieved from my cell phone after it took a plunge and was on the blink; so many of the pictures here are candid shots, the ones for which I'd never have the camera ready, but since I'm on call 24/7, I could capture the moment.
My daughters love to hate one another. They can squabble and fight and even injure one another on almost a daily basis.
And yet, they can be so sweet and loving to the other, and God forbid anyone else threaten the sister!
When there is a difficulty, like the death of a pet, their solidarity stands in stark contrast to the bickering that dominates most days.
My relationship with my sisters was much the same. Now in adulthood, my younger sister is one of my best friends, though I would never tease a girlfriend as rudely as I do her, and she me. (Above, I'm pictured with my younger sister on a camping/hiking trip in Glacier National Park, in 1999, and here is a photo of me, my mother, and my younger sister at Thanksgiving, 2009.) I have brothers, too, who are much younger. I learned a lot about parenting, looking after those two during my teenage years. Now they are fascinating young men who I look forward to knowing more as adults.
This blog entry is dedicated to siblings. (The youngest of my three sisters pictured left.) Below are some recollections from my childhood, regarding my sisters, and I'm including a good bit of photographic evidence that siblings do, indeed, love one another.
Around 1980: I remember sobbing as mom left for a long shift on a weekend, begging her not to leave. I stood at the window, wearing my nightgown, the one she’d gotten for me when I was in the hospital; it now came down to my knees instead of my ankles. When mom worked, my older sister (With long, dark hair in the picture above, and the one below) was in charge of “babysitting” my younger sister and me. The oldest would have been 11 or 12 at this time. She would lock us out of our single-wide trailer and not let us back in, even to go to the bathroom, for hours on end. My younger sister started taking off. I was usually too scared to go with her and would stay in a favorite tree. I worried terribly about my little sister and felt sick. I was angry as hell at my older sister and would throw rocks at the trailer to disturb the quiet she said she needed. On weekends, my younger sister would be gone all day sometimes, and I would putter around in the immediate vicinity of the trailer, bored, worried, and angry until my imagination would overcome this and I would drift off in daydreams, often of how I would avenge my mean and betraying sisters. I would outdo them, they would see. I would leave them behind in the dust. Lock them out of my house. They were not really in cahoots against me, but sometimes it seemed that way. The older would just order the younger to help hold me down and tickle me until I cried. I dreaded being pinned down and humiliated. I was very ticklish and felt so out of control. My younger sister caught up and surpassed me in size at a fairly young age, despite that I was almost four years older. I was scrawny and tough, but together, they out-did me. The oldest was extremely spiteful and hateful in her pre-teen years. I was the most likely target for her rage and if I told on her, I was called a liar, or, even if mom believed me, I was a tattle-tale. She was very good at being sneaky. So I didn’t usually speak-up.
My little sister, a kindergartener, meanwhile, became a master storyteller, and on her forays, would beguile neighbors into free meals and toys, coming back a pretend orphan or victim of a terrible illness, but also a victor, sometimes even bringing bribes so we would not tell on her for being gone so long. When she did hang around, we would play together, pretending, creating elaborate worlds of make-believe where there was lots of food, fun things to do, where we were grown-ups and in charge. A few times we took off together. We’d venture across the road and pick handfuls of wild violets from an empty lot, or we’d sneak across the fence into the neighboring trailer park and climb into this wonderful rope hammock together, swinging between two trees..."
Many of my clients bring sibling issues into the consulting room. This work is rich with opportunity for personal growth, as well as positive changes in families. It is with our siblings that we first learn to relate with others, as caretakers are perceived as an extension of self in early life. Much of our development of identity happens through our comparisons and contrasts with our siblings or close in age peers. The closeness and conflict are both critical in building our personalities and lifelong coping skills. As adults, sibling relationships evolve, and often end up being the longest term relationships we have. Taking care of these bonds between sisters and brothers, is paramount.
"To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time."
"Sibling relationships - and 80 percent of Americans have at least one - outlast marriages, survive the death of parents, resurface after quarrels that would sink any friendship. They flourish in a thousand incarnations of closeness and distance, warmth, loyalty and distrust."
~Erica E. Goode, "The Secret World of Siblings," U.S. News & World Report, 10 January 1994
With love to each of my five siblings, and to my two daughters - encouraging you to nurture what you share. The years of distance between you now seem at times a gulf that cannot be bridged. As you age, this gap will seem trifling, and your common history will bind you, like no other tie.