Is there any lonelier feeling than when one is surrounded by family?
After decades of striving for acceptance and inclusion, it’s become crystal clear that my mother’s legacy has rendered her daughters as being incapable of demonstrating true love for one another. You know what I mean, that unconditional love one hears about, especially when talking about the supposed bonds of family. I guess that might also include myself, indoctrinated, as I am, in the pursuit of our mother’s favor to the detriment of any semblance of sisterly camaraderie, true love, genuine caring and concern for each other. I’ve never felt a fierce, nurtured compulsion among us girls to have each other’s backs. Instead, Mom has always, ever so subtly, pitted each of us against the other.
I have endeavored, my entire adult life, to present myself in such a way that my sisters, and my mother too, might finally accept, embrace and enthusiastically love and care about me, the person, their sister, her daughter.
There was the time my son lost his memory while pursuing his PhD in another state halfway across the country. He was hospitalized for almost two weeks. True, one of my sisters was there for me, helping to make arrangements for my husband and me to fly to Florida. For that I’ve always been grateful. As for the others, two of them called once or twice. The other sisters, not a word. Not a one of them sent cards or flowers.
When my husband and I got married – a second time for each of us – one sister called to inquire as to why we were getting married in his hometown, about an hour and a half away. Because I was Catholic and had no idea where my first husband was, it just seemed easier to get married in the Lutheran church where he grew up than to pursue the rigors of trying to get my first marriage annulled. When I explained this to her (and why should I even have had to?!?), she asked why we didn’t just pick a Lutheran church in our hometown. My husband’s aunts threw a very nice bridal shower for me and all of them wondered aloud why none of my five sisters were there. Well, I sure wondered too…
My passions, my achievements, my fears and concerns are met, consistently, with a ho-hum indifference. I now realize — it should have been obvious long ago — that they are never going to suddenly welcome me into the fold. Never. I can’t imagine what it might take to cause them to change. So. Change is something that I must do.
For my own sake, I must just live my own life, keeping a polite distance. I refuse to give them the satisfaction of knowing how many times their apathy and disregard has wounded me, instilling doubt after doubt after doubt. If a quote unquote ‘friend’ treated me the way my sisters have treated me throughout the years, I would not have hesitated to sever our interactions. That these women are my sisters, my own flesh and blood, has lost its power to keep me coming back again and again for more of their lack of interest in who I am as a person. It’s just too crushing and life is too short, dammit.
I’m no longer content to look on the ground for their tidbits of favor, nurturing hope that things, this time, might be different. My future, indeed, does lie beyond my own yellow brick road.