How Do You Build A Bond With A Sister You Don’t Really Know?
A friend (more of a associate that a friend) came round for a drink because she was quite fed up, I know what it is like to be down in the dumps, so before I could stop myself I invited her round to mine for as girlie night. Anyway you don’t really want to know what kind of night we had, but she did tell me about what was on her mind. This is her story: (For her protection, I will call her Jane.)
She was the favourite after dad left to go abroad to sort out the family home. He was doing to fix up the house and then they were going to join him out there, her stepmother, her half sister and her. But she don’t know what happened when he went out there; he never returned to them, his family.
Jane’s stepmother embarked on a journey to found him, they all thought something bad had happened too him but to her surprise she found him in the arms of another woman. Jane found this out when she was eavesdropping on a conversation that her stepmother was having with a friend one day. As children it was been seen but not heard, so Jane couldn’t ask any questions.
This changed Jane’s stepmother for the worse and she became the wicked step- mother similar to the one in Cinderella. The warm, loving woman that had left to find him did not return. She became angry and mean. The only person who she could take it out on was Jane, the step daughter, well Jane had no one, her own mother had abandoned her when she was a baby, and she had placed her in private fostering. Jane’s dad and stepmother had decided that they wanted her to live with them so they took her out of foster care. Those were happy days when there was the three of them; Jane was dressed in beautiful dress, pretty ribbons and black patent shoes. They would go to the fair, the circus and even the zoo. Jane’s dad brought her a little red scooter and she just remembers those few years being content. Then her half sister was born and she became the centre of attention.
But after her dad left things changed for the worse, she saw Jane as a reminder of him and she did not hesitate to tell her that she had no mother, she had no father and that nobody wanted her, and that she was going to send her back to where she came from. Jane said “Sometimes I wished she would because I was very unhappy with life. But to tell the true I don’t know if my time with my foster parent(s) was happy because I can’t remember anything about that period of my life. Expect for the fact that I use to say I want a cackie, which my step-mother’s sisters would tease me about”.
I listened intensively, without saying a word, “I tried my hardest to be good and to get her to love me but she hated the bones of me. I became Cinderella, doing the washing, the cooking, the cleaning, the ironing, and the shopping and looking after my half sister who was eight years younger that me. While she did work hard holding down two jobs,” she went on to say.
Jane continued her story “As my sister and I got older, she would tell people that I was her cousin, and then I was a friend.” Jane pursed and you see that she was having some sort of flashback, her eyes went all glazed. “This was all influenced by her mother” she said slowly like she wanted to cry. I put my arm around her shoulder to comfort her.“ If I was baby sitting and she didn’t want to do something I wanted her to do, she would wait until her mother came back and then she would start crying and screaming that I had hurt her, knowing full well that I hadn’t touch her, but I would still get beaten and I would be told that I had nobody and I should keep my hands off her child.” Jane said through teary eyes. At that moment I wanted to cry with her because this was heart breaking, I could tell that Jane was still living this nightmare, day in day out, not physically but emotionally and mentally.
“Over the years I got to the stage where I hated, maybe hate is the wrong word, she corrects herself. “ I disliked her, my half-sister with all my heart. She would get all the beautiful presents while I had the hand me downs even thought I was the oldest.”
“My stepmother’s friends at Christmas time would buy a present for my step-sister and while she was opening it they would turn to me and say oh you can share it with her,” she said, blowing her nose. “This made me feel worthless I knew she wasn’t going to share and the fact that I was eight years older, which meant the toys we liked to play with were completely different.”
Jane hesitates and looked at me, I told her to continue, as I took a sip of my drink. “At the age of fourteen I took my first overdose, I swollen a whole bottle of pain killers, which just made me ill, I throw up on the carpet and I just got told off. This became a way of life for the next twenty years, when life became too much I would take an overdose, once I tried to gas myself.” Once again she looks up at me to see if there was any reaction from me. I think she thought I would be shocked, but me, not me, I know what it is like to lose hope.
“I sent my daughter to her grandmothers; her dad’s mum then I went over to my bedsit and locked the door. In them days I had a gas meter, which I had to slot in 50p to get heat. So I saved up as many 50p’s as I could for this dramatic event and even now I struggle with the thoughts of suicide, and I remind my self that I have a beautiful daughter and grand children and they are worth living for.” Jane slowly put the glass to her lips but she didn’t drink anything, I got the impression that she wanted me to something, but I couldn’t, the words wouldn’t come, so I just smiled and held her close.
“When I finally left home, I would visit on occasions but always felt like the outside and the out cast from the family. The day I left home; she (my step-mother) changed the lock so I couldn’t get into the house. I remember once I went to the house with my friend for a visit, on the way back home, my friend apologised to me”, She said “she that she was really sorry”, “I asked her what she was sorry for”, “she said that my step-mother had treated her better that me”, “she treated her as part of the family and that I was the stranger, like someone that had entered her house that she didn’t want there”. “I had got so use to her attitude and behaviour towards me that I had stopped noticing all her attempts to make me feel uncomfortable”. “I just turned to my friend and said don’t worry about it; it’s the way she is with me”. “There are many more of these little stories but you know she’s gone now and I’m still here”. Jane smiled through cloudy wet eyes.
“I could never feel comfortable with my half sister and over the years we drifted apart. We hadn’t talked in years, when I received a message saying her mother was ill with kidney failure, I still didn’t go and visit her and then awhile later a second message came saying that she had died would I becoming to the funeral”. “ I hesitated because all I had was bad memories of that woman”. “In my mind I had already buried her, many years ago but out of respect I went”. Then it went quite, the silence was loud, loud that a drum banging. A minute felt like hours.
“Ironically I now have kidney failure myself and I was suffering really badly with my treatment (dialysis) so I decided to contact my hard sister because she had nursed my step-mother through her illness. I want to find out what it was like for my stepmother to see if her treatment had gone any better that mine.”
“Apprehensively I pick up the phone, knowing that it had been a year since her mother died and I hadn’t been in touch. We both have different views of her mother, she loved my sister but hated me, and so I know that I had to be careful in what I said,” explained Jane.
“Hi M*” she said “how are you? I was wondering if we could meet up; I would like to talk to you”.
“Yes”, she said, “Do you want me to come round to you? I busy throughout the week but I can do the weekend.”
“Would Sunday be ok?” Jane said, “About 4pm, 4pm is ok with me”, “What about you?”
“Yes” she said. “I meet you by the pub and we can go for a drink”.
“I didn’t want my sister at my house, so meeting on neutral ground would be better” Jane said.
“I hadn’t really spoken to her in about 10 years. I just had to escape anything that had to do with my past, the memories, the pain I had to bury and bury it deep so I could get through each day, each night those words use to ring in my head” “you have no mom, you have no dad, nobody wants you”, “and how useless I was. Even now I have problems in forming relationships with people”.
“If my half-sister did anything wrong, my step-mother would tell her don’t turn out useless like Jane”.
“Our evening went well and we spoke about what was happening with the rest of her siblings, (her mother went on to have a further kids). She talked about the incidents around her mother’s death. She went on to tell me about her life and that she missed her mother.”
“At that point my heart went out to her, she had gone through so much by herself, yes she had her siblings but she had to be strong for them because she was the oldest. The funeral arrangement was all left to her.” Jane explained.
“I should have been there for her; I should have been the big sister that supported, and encourage her and helped her to get through the traumatic time”” said Jane.
“How do I know build a bond with a sister that doesn’t feel that I was there for her? How do I get back the lost years? the fun times, and the sad times that we didn’t get together? I had my reason in staying away but I don’t feel able to share those reasons with her, have I know left it to late having kidney failure myself,” cried Jane.
So is there anyone out there that can suggest to me how she could begin to build a bond with her half –sister, to truly bury the past and move forward as sisters that they should have been.