I have five sisters. But we ain’t got no sisterhood — that, you can bank on.
Oh, we go through the motions. We hug each other when we reunite after a long period of no interactions and then again when we part ways. We may occasionally end our texts and our phone calls with a cursory ‘love ya’ but there’s no undercurrent of stability or history or bonding there to support these proclamations. Not really….
This week, while doing some spring cleaning, I unearthed some old journals of mine, a few of which go back ten years or more. I made myself comfortable, sat down with a hot cup of tea and read through every one of them. A recurring theme, scrawled in my messy cursive which has since given way to a neater, tighter printed hand, was the hurt and anger and the renewed insistence on my part – time and time again – that I was going to, once and for all, keep my distance from my siblings. I was no longer going to allow myself to be disappointed and frustrated, I was tired of trying to fit in and be accepted and liked by them. And yet, I still tried.
How was it that my friends and co-workers found me to be a positive, fun and creative person but in the company of my sisters I was often little more than a bumbling incompetent, someone who’d made too many poor life choices, someone whose comments were often ignored, mocked or berated? I so wanted their approval. I wanted them to, a la Sally Field, simply just ‘like’ me – was that too much to ask for? Above all, I very much wanted the six of us, as well, to delight in and seek out each other’s company. I wanted the media-fed image of sisters as best friends, to experience a camaraderie amongst those of us who had been born to the same mother and father.
It’s gotten somewhat better over the years although a recent interaction makes me question even what little gains I thought had been made. And now, at age sixty, as the oldest of six girls, I should perhaps be wiser (and serene in that ‘wisdom’) but I still find myself feeling only cynicism and a grudging acceptance that what we are, what we have, of what our sisterly relationships have become, as being cast in stone. Knowing this, accepting this, realizing this may help me to manage my expectations but it doesn’t make this reality any less sad for me – or for any of us, really.