Sisters. No other woman knows you better or loves you more…or at least, has the capacity to do so. Even if you think she doesn’t know you at all, you’d be surprised at how well she really does understand you. No one knows your early history as well as a sister. No one else knows how to use it to your advantage or against you the way she does. She knows your weak spots and your strengths. She can make you or break you. You know it and she knows it. No other relationship carries such power. It’s what you do with that power and what you allow the other to do with theirs that makes all the difference in the relationship.
Even when your relationship is conflicted, most sisters still have your back. Growing up there was probably no one meaner or nicer to you than a sister. At times, you’re one and the same. Other times, you feel like you’re from different planets. Yet the energy exchanged between you is unlike the energy of any other relationship. It has the power to diminish you or fly you to the moon. The maternal instincts battle one another. Sisters are fueled by competition, stifled with jealousy, and driven by love. It’s a constant clash of control and surrender.
There’s an emotional connection those without sisters don’t get. We see through one another and feel their pain and elation as deeply as they do themselves. Often we are one another’s strongest cheerleaders. We live among the roots that bind us.
Above all, admit it or not, we care what our sisters think of us. We can’t imagine life without them. They were the ones there from the beginning. The ones we trusted to teach us the ropes, or we were the ones who ever so patiently molded them into miniature versions of ourselves. We’ve cried on one another’s shoulders. We’ve made one another cry, but we’ll be damned if we’ll allow anyone else to hurt them. We remind them of the stupid things they’ve done in life, all in the name of not repeating mistakes or to remind them of how far they’ve come.
Sometimes you just don’t get what you feel you need from your “real” sister. You reach to other women who validate you. They become your sisters in spirit. They are your encouragers of life. They are the ones who pick you up when you are down. They feed you when you’re too weak to eat. They lead you through the darkness. They hold your hand just so you know you are not, nor will ever be, alone.
Relationships are tested as we take liberties where we wouldn’t in other relationships. We have unreasonable expectations as well. We trust them to tell them everything; we might trust them to tell them nothing. Neither is right or wrong. It’s all a matter of relationship. Sometimes we’re just plain disappointed in the sister relationship. We feel they’re not giving us what we need…or we think they expect too much from us. That’s when it’s time to take expectations off the table and accept one another for who we really are as adults. We sometimes have to drop the sibling order of relationship and try to be friends of an equal partnership. We have to put aside childhood differences and start over. Sisterhood is like marriage, it needs nurturing and takes two to make it work for both of you.
(I have four sisters. I am the youngest. I am separated by twelve years from the oldest, nine from the next, and five from the other. We each have different relationships between us. Through the years our relationships with one another has changed as we have changed. I can only hope the future will bring us closer.)
Living in the Gap
January 30, 2012 –Ordinary moments
I’m sitting on the sofa like most evenings. The dog lay at my feet, snoring to her heart’s content. The noise of her breathing is louder than the grandfather clock and the dogs barking across the street. The humming of the dryer and whooshing of the washing machine are barely heard as Wylie’s snorting rises to meet the vaulted ceiling. I start laughing, and she looks up as if to say I’ve interrupted her beauty sleep. She settles back onto the rug as I sip a glass of merlot. DirtMan quietly edits his photographs on the computer beside me. I look around to see the reflection of the lamp in the picture window and a neighbor’s porch light as the beams seem to reach out into the night to shake hands. I am thankful for the comfort ordinary moments offer me.