Barbara Alpert says,
“Sister. She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defense attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she’s the reason you wish you were an only child.”
But what happens when your sister is toxic and not what Barbara Alpert describes in this quote? Do you try? Do you reach out and beg? Do you give too many chances? Do you change for them? Do you write them off and move on? Do you wish you were the only child?
My sister and I are 3 years apart in age. Growing up with a sibling is supposed to be an amazing experience. We had our good times. We had our bad times. But, I feel, overall the bad outweighs the good through all the years.
My Teen Years
During my teen years we were not close or inseparable like many sisters are at that age. The most we did together was play sports, hang out with mutual friend or go to the beach during the summer. I never went to her for advice because I felt she never had the desire to help and she never gave good advice anyways. I was a handful for my parents and that made her life easier. If your sister is getting into trouble, it allows you to fly under the radar with ease. She took advantage of this and flew under the radar all the way into adulthood.
Despite all the trouble I caused growing up, I have fond memories of being young. I learned a lot from those experiences. Let’s take a walk down memory lane of sisterhood in my teen years.
Ready, set…let’s go!
First, let’s visit the shoplifting experience at a super market in Hegewisch when I was 13 years old and when I first realized how disconnected we were as siblings. I decided it would be awesome to steal a pack of gum while paying for another pack of gum. I mean all the cool kids did it, right? My sister was with me because she drove me there to do community service for the grammar school sports program. When I got caught, she dipped faster than flash lighting. She went home and said NOTHING to my parents about me getting into trouble or that I was being held by store management. Thank God for my mom’s friend, who called the store and talked to the manager. My parents then called the store to find out the details. I guess they came back from Disney really fast, as that where I told the store manager they were. My parents grounded me for shoplifting and to this day I have never stepped foot around that supermarket again. My sister also got grounded but still am not sure exactly why she did. I can speculate why my parents choose to ground her and the reasons were because she was there when it happened or because she did not tell my parents about the situation.
My shoplifting memory is one of the most laughed about childhood stories, as I became an adult. As much as we laugh about the story it became the most hurtful memory as I realized how fast my sister would turn her back on me and leave me high and dry. Will these be the way she treats me my entire life or will this be how we change our relationship.
The first time my sister showed me any emotion (that I can remember) was when I was in High School and was admitted into the hospital to have my stomach pumped after a suicide attempt. She had my back that day, she wanted to hurt the “bitches” that hurt me. It was nice to have an older sister and it was one of a few times I felt like I did have one. I am certainly not sure how or why our relationship grew apart and I hate that it fell apart when I was still hurting.
My sister’s freshman year of college was quite a memory. She went to school in Clinton, Iowa for her five year degree. Instead of putting on the “Freshman 15” my sister went from being a heavy girl to a skinny girl. I found out from her boyfriend at the time that she had an eating disorder. I could have kept my mouth shut and acted like I did not care, but I did care. I told my parents and when we went up to visit they spoke to her about the revelation. She could not lie too much about it because she lost a lot of weight.
Her eating disorder and my attempt of suicide was the beginning of the lifelong story of a jealous competition. I always wonder if she acted out because I was getting attention and by attention, I mean a negative form of attention. Now my parents had two children in therapy, she recovered and I never did.
Years passed and she was still in college and I was the summer before the start of my senior year in high school. I had an amazing life and was not in therapy anymore. Despite these things going well, I was killing myself slowly. I was feeling great about it too because I was in control. Then suddenly that control came crashing down. I was being driven to the hospital by my sister and my mom to be admitted into a mental hospital for anorexia and a mental breakdown. I remember when my dad first came to see me that first night after my mom admitted me, he was heart broken and I seen it in his eyes that he didn’t want me there but ultimately he wanted me better. Once admitted, I never saw my sister. She did not come for the visits when I was allowed to have family. There was even family therapy but to my recollection my sister never attended these. Isn’t family therapy for a family? It was like I was 13 years old again and I was abandon by my sister, who mind you seemed pretty happy to drive me to a mental hospital.
After being discharged from inpatient; I had to attend outpatient day therapy. I did not want to be there but I was getting better. Sometimes she had to drive me and when she did I felt like it was a huge inconvenience to her. On a few occasion we would briefly talk about my day but mainly it was silent and we never connected. It was like we were two complete strangers who only cared about themselves.
I look at her freshman year of college and my summer before my senior year and compare them in my head. I wanted my sister to be okay and I would’ve done whatever I needed to do but why was it not reciprocated. I never knew her real reason to why she developed an eating disorder but I speculated my theory of a jealous competition and mine was developed because I felt that I needed to control something because I felt I was not properly treated after my attempted suicide. Trust me the last thing I wanted was to be defined with an eating disorder which I still struggle today with.
Growing up I always told my dad that I was going to join the Navy. When others would hear this they would laugh and I honestly don’t blame them. I hated to take orders and no one could ever tell me what to do. Despite knowing this about myself, I signed papers to join on my 18th birthday and not one day later. I joined because I didn’t want my parents to have a financial burden of two kids in college. I made this decision despite being accepted to college because I would hear my parents discuss how much money was spent on college or her expenses. Ultimately, joining was my way of starting a new life.
I was scheduled for boot camp in July of 1999. In the beginning of May, my sister returned from school for the summer and things were not happy at home for me. I wasn’t happy because I had to share a car with her, I had to walk on egg shells and quite frankly I had to share my parents. One day, she and mom both said to me “I wish you left now and not in July.” Like every teenager, we always did not see eye to eye with our mother and for some reason when my sister was around, I never seen eye to eye with my mom. I don’t remember till this day why they said that but I granted there wish and begged my recruiters to move my date up to after graduation. It was that, or I was going to live in one of their homes until it was my time to leave.
My mother, sister and I did not speak for weeks. Why would I speak to people that didn’t want me around and wished I was already gone. Even though my mom and I were not speaking, she still took me shopping for the stuff I was allowed to take to boot camp. My bag sat there in the living room screaming at me to leave and to leave FAST. My sister and I never spoke before I left. My dad however, didn’t want me to leave but he knew that leaving was going to be the best decision for me and my future.
When in bootcamp, I wrote many letters to varies people including my mom, dad and sister. I would received a lot of mail from friends and family as well. I wrote my mom constantly while away but sent them to her work so my sister didn’t see them. Thankfully we were able to repair our relationship and she became my best friend. My dad would type me letters on a typewriter! He was off of work still recovering from open heart surgery, so he would update me on his physical therapy or on sport. I remember phone conversations with my parents asking “Did she received my letters?” and they would tell YES. I would follow up with “Did she wrote me back?” and they would tell me YES. Everyday, I wished I would have received just one letter from her and I NEVER DID! I wanted to make amends with her like I did my mom. But, all I wondered was does she HATE me that much. To make matters worse, she did not even attend my boot camp graduation. I still don’t quite understand…why would my sister not come to one of the biggest moments in my life? We were really that broken and in that much of a competition?
After schooling in Great Lakes, I had a week or two leave before being stationed in Florida. I made the most of it and visited everyone I could while I could. I was proud of my new life, my new chapter, new beginning and my future but it did not come easy.
When I was stationed on the USS Sullivan’s, I remember my sister having a minor incident with the car we shared. The passenger mirror was ripped off but somehow I did it as close friends have told me. Good golly, I must have come home from the middle of the Persian Gulf and took a ride. I mean seriously, did she really think she could pass the blame on me when it wasn’t even remotely possible! I refused to fix it and why should I be the one to fix it? Who tells everyone their sister did something knowing their sibling is on a six-month deployment? Sure hope my parents, never believed that story. This car incident was the beginning to her end of not being about to fly under the radar. She was now flying with no coverage to mask her maneuvers.
The beginning of my 20’s, I still lived in Jacksonville, Florida and became a mom just two weeks after turning 20. I was a full-time stay at home mom and my sister was about to be the first Kleszynski to graduated college……How will our 20’s be, will they follow the same as my teens?
TO BE CONTINUED……..