About year and a half ago, I sat my daughters down to have a discussion. You see they’ve reached those possessed teenage years when the hormones are unstable and the attitude ranges from “I hate you and I really hate you”. Unfortunately for me the sweet days of watching one cry at the sight of the other one leaving morphed into the melodramatic “I wish you would just leave!” As a mom this was painful and exhausting to watch not to mention trying understand it often escaped or frustrated me. Our family discussions often assisted me as I practice being observant of the non-verbal displayed and actively listening to what was being said by both hostile teens. The older one of the two just wanted her space, have her own friends without being force to drag her kid sister around, well at least that’s what my assessment was. You know it’s easier to climb Mt Everest on the coldest day in swimwear than it is to get a teenager to openly discuss feelings to a parent while appearing vulnerable to siblings. I was also able to rely on my own experience as being an older sister.
During our discussion when my youngest daughter spoke about how much she missed her sister and she just wanted to be noticed in such sadness, I couldn’t help but think about my own younger sister. Then suddenly I didn’t see my youngest daughter crying with hurt feelings I saw my youngest sister crying. I didn’t just feel the pain as a mother but I felt the pain of my own mother. It was so odd but I decided to explore my thoughts and feelings later so that I could handle what was before me. I was careful to relax my speech so that I could comfort the youngest and try helping her understand what her sister was going through without making her feel disregarded. (Geesh talk about walking a tightrope) I also had to make sure I wasn’t condemning to my oldest daughter because I did understand her desire but I also wanted her to tap into her sensitivity and compassion. It was quite the balancing act but during our resolution portion of the discussion I made sure we reviewed old pictures which triggered happier memories when they played together and it help them both to listen to each other, for understanding. The pictures helped to soothe them both and I admit me too.
After assisting them in resolving their conflict, I decided to call my mother and my youngest sister. I felt the need to apologize for causing them both heartache. I saw for the very first time in my youngest daughter that my sister wanted to be “noticed” and shown some compassion. I identified the selfishness that I blindly cultivated at the expense of my sister's feelings much like my daughter was doing to her sister. Unfortunately for my sister and I, we didn’t have the guidance nor the knowledge on how to embrace and express our feelings. My mother comes from an upbringing where expressing how you feel wasn't really allowed, so feelings were often suppressed or masked as something other than what’s truly being felt. In its place anger was displayed instead of hurt, an attitude of disregard was being shown instead of sadness. My mother didn’t have the skill set to identify these defense mechanisms so there was no teaching or learning truly going forth to myself or my sister only a “band-aid” method. You know, where you just cover up the wounds without really treating the wound with Neosporin (knowledge) so there is no real healing until years later.(hopefully)
The phone call with my sister lasted over 3 hours, I literally talked and listened to my baby sister for the first time in a really long time about our feelings, thoughts, ideas and past hurts. We were able to openly share how we truly felt for the first time, accepting what we did and didn’t do for each other. Being able to earnestly say “I’m Sorry” helped to truly apply the “Neosporin” to old wounds. Please understand that through the years we’ve supported each other like sisters are supposed to, we’ve gone on trips and spent holidays together; however there was always an underlying element not being addressed. In our three hour plus discussion I truly believed we were both able to release so much of it and embrace where we were in life continuously building and growing. Our strongest bond has always been our weakness for a good laugh we’ve never had problems being silly together, cracking jokes or enjoying a good laugh no matter what was going on in our lives. My sister is hilarious to me, she has the craziest laugh ever and I love how we’re able to talk about everything.
I love to witness strong genuine bonds between sisters that are based on more than blood ties. Bonds that are built in difficult times, cemented in loyalty, grow with encouragement and nurtured with respect and love. I believe that women who are not biologically related know how to cultivate a bond between each other by choice. It’s when you are related you have to learn how to like the person you are told and in some ways condition to love. This is why I appreciate my sister all the more NOW than I ever did before. We are friends and I treasure our friendship like I treasure our bond as sisters. She is on the brink of becoming a newlywed and to see her happily in love fills my heart with joy! It’s good to see people happy but it’s something about seeing someone you love and truly LIKE smile with happiness. She's her complete true self when she's with him and it's delightful to witness. I look forward to the days that my own daughters can truly appreciate each other and honestly like each other. I can see now why it meant so much to my own mother and why she usually has a ridiculous smile on her face when she watches us be silly together. I'm sure we'll have an awesome time together as we celebrate her nuptials adding to the wonderful memories and pictures we have.....this is one of my favorite pictures of us because it embodies how we are when we are together. It also depicts how I want us to be until the end of our days…..