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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sisterhood is powerful....well, maybe not so much
Posted by Jill | 5:35 AM

Friends are friends, but when push comes to shove, your family is your family.

My sister and I were estranged for decades. It wasn't her fault at all, it was all mine. I resented my sister for years. I resented her because she was the pretty one, the musical one, the talented one, and I was nothing but the funny one. Now funny is something that can stay with you forever, but when you are eight years old, or ten, or twelve, or twenty-two, and you have been told your whole life that you are NOT pretty, you are cute and funny -- and it's made clear that cute and funny are definitely NOT as valuable as pretty, it's easy to get sucked into a vortex of anger and resentment. After all, who WOULDN'T be besotted with a child like my sister? She WAS pretty, and photogenic, and musically talented, whereas I was just this weird kid who preferred to stay in my room alone and make dollhouse furniture out of construction paper than be outside with neighborhood kids who were just going to tease me for being weird anyway.

It was never about anything my sister ever did. Try as I might, I have no memories of her ever being anything but nice to me. The only photographs of my early childhood where I'm smiling are the ones where I'm with her. So I'm not sure exactly when the resentment came about.

I remember her comforting me in her car the night before her first wedding while I sobbed uncontrollably. I was wretched because the guy I was dating would not make a commitment, and here she was getting married, and in my mind it was all because she was prettier than I was and things just seemed through my warped eyes to come so EASILY to her. What a selfish thing to do, to make the night before your sister's wedding all about YOU -- and yet that's what I did to the sister who hitchhiked home from college in Indiana to see me in my high school play.

Many years later, when my mother's husband became ill, Lynn tiptoed gingerly back into the family fold, for she had been estranged from our mother for years as well. It was then that the long journey towards reconciliation began. It hasn't always been easy. I will always have a lot of guilt about how I hated her all those years for no reason other than thinking that if I just disliked her enough, that our mother would make ME the favorite. And she still has issues with a lot of what I did. But we've been talking it all out for over a decade now, and when Mr. Brilliant was diagnosed with cancer in March, she immediately stepped up to the plate to help -- to make phone calls, to find resources for help, and to just be there.

That Lynn has been willing to forgive and forget has been the greatest gift I have ever or will ever receive.

And so, when I read about Liz Cheney throwing her lesbian sister Mary under the bus as part of her cynical run for Senate in Wyoming, I felt sick to my stomach. It's one thing for an unhappy child whose mother was already sunken deep into depression by the time she was born to hate her prettier sister who appeared to a child's eyes to be the favorite. It's quite another for a middle-aged adult to be willing to sacrifice this most precious bond in order to garner votes from a bunch of ignorant yahoos in the name of political power. When you're even more soulless and heartless than Dick Cheney, that's really saying something.

Mary Cheney's marriage is not a bargaining chip, nor is it an opinion about which intelligent people of goodwill can disagree. What Mary Cheney has is a family -- as much a family as yours and arguably more of a family than mine was in my formative years. That anyone can even think of not ferociously defending a sister with whom is supposedly close as part of politics makes Liz Cheney a particularly vile sort of ghoul -- one that makes the father-without-a-pulse who spawned her look like Mother Teresa by comparison.

I know it is bad juju to wish ill on other people, but I find myself hoping that if Liz Cheney is ever in the situation I was, with a sick husband and a high-pressure job, exhausted and scared and not knowing where to turn, that HER sister says, "Sorry, honey, but you're on your own." It would be no more than she deserves.

As for my sister? Thank you, Lynn, for being my rock and for your forgiveness. I love you, Sissy.

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Anonymous Syrbal/Labrys said...
I am so glad you sisters are reconciled. I completely adored my decade-younger sister, she was the most precious thing in my life. So, when my mother intentionally destroyed our once-close relationship with a pack of toxic lies, I was shattered completely. Understanding my mother's mental issues didn't erase the hurt and loss, but it enabled me to walk away rather than making it somehow even worse. And yes, I hope Liz Cheney gets back her mean petty political grasping in spades.