Tag Archives: Sisters

Do It Right

18 May

I might be 25 but I can still be a bratty little sister.

November 2011:

My mom is visiting me in Canadaland for 2 weeks. My sister calls on Skype because she is frustrated with her weight loss. (Leah has been dropping the pounds and rocking it! So proud of you Leah!)

Leah: Momma, I’ve plateaued.

Mom: This is totally expected hun. You should change-up your diet and increase your exercise.

Leah: Yeah, I know. But I don’t know what else I can do, diet wise….

They go back and forth brainstorming. My mom continues to encourage Leah, she seems to be unresponsive and set on being pouty. (I’m such a little sister)

While Leah and mom are having this LONG discussion I become a wee-bit bored. I’m sitting across the room from my mom so Leah can not see me. I start mimicking my sister. I’m moving my hands as I imagine Leah is doing, moving my head back and forth while flapping my mouth. Our mom is trying her best to ignore me. She does this quite well but at times she is a bit delayed in responding to Leah. Over time, she begins to crack and starts struggling with her facial expression and forming sentences. SUCCESS! Leah catches on. She knows I am up to something.

Leah: Lacey, what are you doing? (she’s a little annoyed but mostly curious)

I move across the room and stand directly behind the laptop. Leah can hear me, but not see me.

Me: In a very serious voice I say, “Leah, I have an idea to help you conquer this plateau.”

Leah: “Yeah? What is it?”

The look on my moms face… she knows me too well. She knows I’m about to say something dripping of sarcasm and completely insensitive.  She knows I can not keep it in my head, it has to be released. Mom is now working on her facial expression. She’s preparing to stay straight-faced after whatever I deliver.

Me: Do it right. (I say this in an obviously sarcastic way with a titch of condescension)

Leah: WHAT!?

Me: (I slow it down real good) Do… It… Right.

Leah: Oh Lacey! (this is the response I get when Leah thinks I am funny, but also rude/annoying/vulgar/or generally inappropriate)

Our mom gives Leah her best “above it all” face to Leah trying her best to not react to what just happens. She totally fails though. She thinks I am hilarious. SUCCESS!

They continue on with other matters concerning Leah. Next up for discussion was what she should do with her hair. Color, Cut, Style… I take the opportunity to pester once more.

Me: Oooo! I know! This would be awesome! I don’t think you’ve ever done this before….

Leah and my mom are interested in my amazing light bulb.

Leah: What Lace? What ya thinking?

Me: How bout’ you do it right.

Leah hollers at me and my mom once again is trying to keep composed. Leah insists I show myself on Skype. I deny her this blessing. It’s way too much fun not being seen. She doesn’t see these things coming and it’s way too entertaining for me!

I got a few more “Do it right’s” in there before they FINALLY wrapped up their conversation. As they were saying goodbye she shouted, “Bye Butthead!” I replied “DO IT RIGHT! AND GOOD NIGHT!”

She cursed at me but I wasn’t quite sure what she said. I was however sure that she cursed with a smile, and that my readers, was a great example of “Doing It Right”.

This recount of me saying “Do it Right” was playful and completely in jest. I love my sister and I did (between being a sarcastic brat) offer up real ideas and solutions to her dilemmas that evening.

 

 

BUT  there have been so many instances where I encountered an absolute moron. It takes “filter overdrive” to prevent myself from blurting out in utter annoyance, “Do it right!”

I want to design a “Do It Right” ticket/citation of sorts. There would be boxes I can check next to moronic behaviour, or things that I generally see people doing wrong. There would be space on the back for specific write-ups with pointers, books, or other materials that could aid them. At the bottom it would have big letters reading DO IT RIGHT with my number to call if they need assistance figuring it out.

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Leah

2 May

I’ve written this post several times over but I struggle each time because our history is ugly. Leah and I didn’t have much of a relationship growing up. We lived in the same house and for several years, the same room. We were sisters by blood but that’s as far as the connection went for most of my life. I don’t want this post to bash my sister, that’s not why I am writing it. As an adult I have been able to look back and reflect on Leah’s early years, and gain perspective as to why she hated me (turns out she didn’t really hate me, she didn’t like herself and had a lot of inner pain). And because of my ability to remove myself from the equation and focus on understanding the bigger picture, I’ve been able to release myself of all ill feelings and resentment towards Leah.

Leah experienced feelings of rejection as a little girl. My parents separated and our dad disappeared for a while. Leah was left with feelings of abandonment and although she was only 2 when it took place, she remembers it in detail. As a 2-year-old you perceive things quite differently. Those feelings never changed as Leah grew older. And although my parents had reconciled and to this day maintain a beautiful and healthy relationship, she held on to old feelings formed in an undeveloped mind  that belonged to a little girl. Those feelings had an unhealthy effect on her relationship with our dad, as well as with myself.

Soon after my parents reconciled and started working on their relationship, I was conceived. Leah was 4 when I was born and she took to the big sister role quite well. She did however struggle with sharing the attention of our parents. For a while it had been just Leah and our mom, and she had just got her dad back when I popped out. That was difficult for her, but the real issue came around when I was able to talk and assert myself.  Around the age of 4 or 5 I no longer took orders and had my own ideas and opinions. When I was 1 my brother Bryan was born and he became my BFF. I no longer needed Leah as a playmate and it appealed to me that I didn’t have to do whatever she told me, in order to have a friend in her. I had an equal now in Bryan, and Leah soon withdrew from my life.

Another factor was age. Leah is 4 years older than me and for developing children that’s huge. We didn’t relate much. We were always in different stages, with different interests. She was into modelling and performing, I was super shy and reserved (weird right?) I liked barbies, she hated them. In fact, she liked to shave their heads and shove them under my dresser leaving the feet sticking out, so I could see them but not get them out. Leah did some cruel things and never let me forget her dislike of me. Often she would pinch me hard and not fess up when I cried, or threaten me over telling on her for anything she had done that was mean or wrong.

Honestly, I just wanted her to like me and love me. I’m not saying I never did anything mean back, or annoyed her or even provoked her. We were kids after all. And I knew we would never be best friends, but I wanted a sister. I longed for a sister I could confide in and get advice from. That never happened. I remember a time when our arguing and Leah’s cruelty had reached an all time high. Our parents were fed up and handcuffed us together in a room. They had hoped we would resolve whatever the issue was and even though I tried to talk it out, Leah wouldn’t listen. She told me that she was going to hug me and pretend like everything was good so she could get away from me. And she did, and it worked.

When I was 7 I sang a song to her that I had worked really hard on. The song was “Love Can Build a Bridge” by The Judds and I am pretty sure I cried while singing it to her. I thought that by singing, which she loved to do, we could relate to each other and try to be nice to one another. I remember Leah hugged me and said how much she loved me and liked the song. That moment stuck with me and to this day brings tears to my eyes. I let her know how badly I wanted to be close to her, I let her know of how some kids were making fun of me for being so small. I thought we could find something to relate to as she struggled with her body image as well. And briefly we did connect and it felt nice. But all that disappeared once I got sick.

My health declined rather quickly soon there after and I was in and out of doctors offices and hospitals. I began taking of a lot of my parents time and attention due to the muscle disorder and Leah needed more from them. She resented me for this. She knew it was nothing I was in control of but instead of being supportive and sympathetic she retaliated by telling me ” You’re faking” “You’re a liar” and “I hate you”. I now know that at that time Leah was dealing with he rown emotional pain and adolescent challenges. She was being bullied at school, feeling a lot of insecurities over her body, struggling to keep friends and loathing being poor. I became the target for her anger with life. Of course then I didn’t know what was taking place in her life and internalized all the mean things she would say and do. I was in physically pain, struggling with my own losses and fears and all I wanted was a loving sister. This continued into our teen years.

When I was 15 I had become even more sick. Leah had been living away from home since she was 16 (early to college then a banking career) but returned home when she lost her job after 9/11. I begrudgingly shared a room with her and tried to forget she was there, as well as the mess she left in her wake (the mess will always travel behind Leah…). It had been 3 years since spending time with Leah and she didn’t know the magnitude of what my disordered had done to my body or my life. Soon after returning home, Leah witnessed one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had with my muscle disorder.

I got into a bath to calm the spasms that were taking over my legs. The pain was excruciating and none of the meds I had taken were working. After a bit of a soak in the bath my breathing began to grow weak. I started struggling to keep conscious and it took all the air in my lungs to cry out for help. My memory of this experiences is shadowed with intermittent consciousness, but I know my mom pulled me out of the bath and wrapped a towel around me. They brought me to the living room and laid me on the floor. I remember gasping for air but it felt like none of the oxygen was getting in. I remember opening my eyes just slightly, seeing my father over top of me, and my mom and sister at my feet. I blacked out. I stopped breathing for several minutes and my dad began rescue breaths until the paramedics showed up. I regained consciousness shortly before they arrived, but I couldn’t move. My breathing was shallow and my legs were paralyzed. This episode ended in an ambulance ride to the emergency room, blood work, medication evaluation, and an extended stay in the hospital.

Now, I wasn’t searching for sympathy but I did think that by Leah witnessing that, she would show a bit more compassion toward me and maybe believe me about my disorder. She couldn’t still think after all these years that I was faking it? Nothing changed though. Everyone in my family came by to offer their best at cheering me up but it wasn’t until a couple of days later that Leah appeared. I was happy to see her but was soon disappointed when I realized she wasn’t there for me, she was there to talk to my mom about her job and something good that had happened for her. She left without saying anything more than hello to me. I discussed with my mom how hurt I was, and she was sympathetic. I said that I thought I needed therapy because this thing with Leah hurt so badly. I don’t want to always feel like this when she comes around.

After the hospital stay I sought counseling for a number of issues and gained a lot of knowledge and perspective. After a few weeks of talking it out, I was in a better place emotionally. My counselor urged me to write a letter to Leah about my feelings towards her, specific memories that pained me, and more importantly, letting go of what I longed to have with Leah, a friendship. Leah was unsafe for me. It was the unattainable dream and only brought me pain when I would seek it. I had to let her go, in order to heal and move forward. I never gave the letter to Leah because it wasn’t actually for her. It was for me. I started over with Leah like she was someone I just met. I treated her as an acquaintance. I was cordial and never talked about anything other than surface. She was unsafe for me at that time and for my heart and well-being I had to keep her at an arm’s length. We went on for several years like this and I began to feel better in regards to Leah. I had essentially mourned the loss of a close sisterly relationship, and replaced it with something different. We still had our spats but generally, this new approach to a relationship went well. I lowered my expectations of her so I wouldn’t be let down, therefore, rarely became angry or disappointed. I know that sounds terrible, but it’s true and it’s what I had to do to be in contact with Leah.

When I was 17 a shift happened. I don’t know exactly why it did, but I do know that as things got better in Leah and our dad’s relationship, things seemed to improve within our relationship. I’m not a psychologist but I believe that as she addressed old feelings of rejection from our dad, as well as her own insecurities as a child/teen, she was able to evaluate the driving force behind the cruelty she exhibited towards me. Leah began to make changes and apologized several times. I don’t know how many times, but I think she knew she would have to say it a lot. She was determined to make sure I knew how sincere she was each time she did so too.

The more effort Leah made, the more I would open up for her. I did however remain guarded but I kept an open mind and didn’t allow any hiccups to discourage me as we rebuilt. Over time, Leah and I established a new relationship. It took a lot of effort on her part to win me over again and through the course of a couple of years (and a lot of ups and downs) we’ve arrived at a good place.

Leah,

We didn’t have a great start as being sisters. We don’t have good childhood memories together to look back on with fondness. We missed out on a lot of years together. We built walls and burned bridges.

But made ourselves a second chance and we have a lot to be proud of. We worked through difficult feelings towards each other. We learned from the mistakes we made as children, teens and young adults in regards to one another. We tore down the walls and rebuilt the bridges to make new memories. In the process of rebuilding, we formed a healthy relationship and discovered appreciation for one another. We accept each other for the unique individuals that we both are. Instead of beating each other up, we offer words of encouragement. We support one another in life and give all we can to one another without any conditions.We are who we are, and we are beautiful sisters.

If I had to choose to have you as a  loving young sister or a loving adult sister, I choose the adult sister hands down. I used to mourn not having you near when we were kids. I used to think that I missed out on this huge thing, but ya know what? You can give me a heck of a lot more support and love now, than you ever could have been capable of then. And you do Leah. I no longer look back and feel pain or sadness over our relationship, but I use it as a marker to see how far we have come.

I know our relationship is not perfect, and we’ll always have to work harder to maintain it than we do with other family members. I know we’ll always need to err on the cautious side when confronting an issue and take extra care as to not wound one another. Because although we have moved forward, we still have scars, and our relationship will always need to be nurtured.

I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of your adult life. I am blessed to be your friend and happy to see you blossoming as you move into your 30’s. You are a wonderful mom and a great wife, you are simply outstanding! Besides being awesome moms and wives, we have few things in common. In fact, we couldn’t be more opposite but I think that makes things exciting. I am proud of you for everything you have accomplished in your life, as well as all the effort you have made to mend my heart and our relationship. I love you Leah. Thank you for being the sister I always wanted. And thanks for loving me for me.

Always,

Lace

Communal Living

2 Sep

I’ll be writing a “Player” post about Leah very soon but you do need to be brought up to speed a bit so you can understand why living with my sister was such an odd choice. Leah and I grew up without a relationship. Yes, we were sisters and we lived in the same house but that was as far as it went with us. I had longed to be loved by her since as far back as I can remember, but I never got that from her. I didn’t even have mutual respect from her or a casual but good relationship like you would have with a co-worker. No, she hated me and told me it often. That’s the gist of it. We had only just started addressing issues and patching up the pain between us when she offered me a room. Maybe that’s why she did it. To give me help now, since she wasn’t present when I needed her time and time before.

Whatever her reason, I was very grateful when my sister and brother in-law opened their home to me. I honestly didn’t expect Leah to do that and she was the last person on earth I would think to willing have as a housemate. I had several other choices of places to live when it came to moving on in my life. I could have stayed at my Aunt and Uncle’s house, got a job somewhere nearby and eventually moved out on my own. I could have gone back to my parents’ house in New Mexico, or have gone back to school and lived on campus… But for some reason, and I still don’t know why, I chose to move in with my sister and her husband on Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.

Living there was easier than I thought it was going to be. Leah and her hubby were happy to have me and it felt nice to be around family. As long as we kept the conversation light and avoided “soft spots” concerning our relationship everything was smooth. I used this living arrangement as an opportunity to get to know Leah’s husband better and he really was meant for her. He’s a man who isn’t intimidated by Leah’s strength and appreciates her abundant uniqueness. Of course, every relationship has its challenges and theirs was no exception. I learned that they were both very passionate, stubborn and always right…. Leah had met her match in wills as well it seemed. Good for her. She needed that!

Overall though I was very happy living with the both of them, excepting that we differ greatly in our habits of cleaning. (Love you Leah, but you are one messy woman…you know this. I guess strangers do now as well. Sorry bout that.) It was a great time for Leah and I to make new memories and build on our new friendship as adult sisters. I was able to be by her side when her personal life hit a rough patch (details don’t matter) and I was glad for the opportunity. She was also there to witness my budding love for L and share those sisterly giggles about boys. Those never go away no matter how old you get…they just get dirtier in context!

Leah encouraged me to take my time in figuring out the direction I wanted to go in my life. I never felt like a freeloader while living there and I did my part to clean up after myself to ensure I didn’t leave cause for her to push me out the door. I did however decide that after I got back from Italy, I would find a job and get my life started.