My sister and I have always had a difficult relationship. Periods of closeness were followed by bitter fights and silent distances. Yeah, so are most sibling relationships, but in our case I think it went a little further than the average. It’s ventured into the territory of pathological from time to time.
Sibling rivalry was the name of the game. Bigtime. From day one. As I’ve written before, we’ve in the past sorted out our domains, and for the most part stayed off each others’ turf. There were exceptions of course, dance and music mostly though we each had our own territories there too. Most of my life I’ve felt like I’m a shadow to her, as she commandeers attention and conversation, and isn’t happy to sit and recognize someone else’s perspective or success. My sister is a drama queen. I know, I know, I should have a heart. She probably felt similarly, this kid sister who was good at math and languages, did science, and tried to do everything that she did. I suspect that we fed each other’s ravenous insecurities, creating one heck of a positive feedback rivalry loop.
Even though she doesn’t talk to me any more, even though I know there’s a whole world of crazy going on in her head, I can’t seem to drop it.
For a while I could keep it in perspective, even let it go. Sure, I reacted badly to finding out that she was doing pottery. Suddenly the bowls and such that I was so proud of looked like preschooler creations. Then there was the climbing freak-out, but I know that has little to do with her actually climbing and more to do with my NOT climbing lately.
But now there is writing. This is bringing out the worst in me. The nose-in-the-air I got published first reaction, the snooping (now extending beyond Facebook to blog reading and Twitter), the eye rolling at her choice of topics and her lack of formal background in them. The sniggers as she consistently uses it’s when she means its, and who’s when she means whose (seriously, and she calls herself an editor!). The desperation to get published in a magazine first.
What is WRONG with me?
I know that a good deal of the things she’s boasting about are just drama, phrased to give an appearance along the lines of the false storefronts of the Midwest in pioneer days. Yes, she may actually be writing a book. Anyone can have that ambition, can even work on it. It’s getting it published that’s the tricky part. But why am I threatened by this? Why is it triggering my insecurities and … why do I care? Even more, why can I not smile and be happy for her if she does find success? Uh. Scratch that, I know that answer.
I don’t have the time to spend on this. I don’t have the time to waste obsessively checking up on my estranged sister’s life three or four times in a day. It’s not healthy! And so what if she has faster progress than I do in her apparently chosen career as a writer. She’s a stay at home mom who sends her child out to daycare full time and has a husband to take his share of parenting time. I have a career that involves full time work and no help at home. I don’t have the time right now to spend contacting magazines with pitches to write for them.
I need to find a way to get my computer to emit some horrible noise when I type her name. I need to find a way to just see her as anyone else out there, some anonymous person (with a made-up name because her own wasn’t good enough for her … ahem …) in another country. I need to wean myself off of this harmful and one-sided game, because this is saying much more negative things about me and my personality than I like to think about.