Why we do the things we do…

I’ve been mulling this over in my mind for the last few weeks and finally, after a very sleepless night last night, I came to the conclusion that I’m just not a very nice person. I THINK I am, but my actions lately have disproved that.

We all change over the years, we all make mistakes and hopefully, learn from them. It seems that I’m not doing much learning lately. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve treated a member of my family horribly and worse still, played it out on social media for all the world (or at least all my friends and family) to see. Used to be that family issues, problems, fights, disappointments were all private. We didn’t spew them all over for everyone to see. We didn’t “air our dirty laundry” to use an old phrase. People worked together, they supported each other, they overlooked minor and not-so-minor issues for the greater good.

I grew up in a large family–7 other brothers and sisters–a Dad who worked very hard to support us all and a Mother who stayed at home until I was older and my younger brothers and sisters were more or less able to take care of themselves. She went to work part time, then full time and we kids learned to help out even more and take care of each other. It was expected. We didn’t get paid to babysit the younger ones (although I do remember a few times when my parents would surprise me with a milkshake or new book as a thank you), we grew up in a time when it was expected that we help out. No entitlement, no handouts, no feeling like the world owed us a living.

Over the years, as we are all wont to do, we moved away, married, had our own families, careers, etc. etc. Hopefully you find a measure of happiness and peace in your life endeavors, try to raise your own family the way you were raised, somehow make some small difference in the world, your world as well as others.

But, in that moving away and changes, things inevitably become different. Not everyone likes you, or you don’t care for someone that a sibling has met and maybe married. My parents weren’t always happy with a great many of the choices that we made as children, then young adults, then grownups (although, the term “grownups” isn’t meant to imply that the person is actually GROWNUP, if you follow my drift) and they expressed that dislike or disapproval. We either learned from it and stayed and made our own mistakes or moved on. That’s what life is all about.

I know that my parents had concerns about a few of my siblings spouses/significant others and there were times when those concerns showed themselves in arguments, fights, shouting matches and a lot of not so nice name calling among other things. It led to long stretches of time when some didn’t really speak to or have much to do with the rest of the family.

Picnics, outings, holidays or just stopping by to visit–all these were greatly curtailed for many years. When my grandmother passed away 23 years ago, more anger, upset, confusion, hurt and upheaval, which only added to the estrangements. It happens in the best of families and it’s very hard to get back even a modicum of what went on prior to those angry events.

In the ensuing years, I took it upon myself to try to “fix” things between my sister and Mom, who had been going through this estrangement. I tried to get both parties together numerous times, I repeatedly tried to talk to my sister and my Mom separately to find out just where everything went so wrong. It didn’t go so well. One didn’t want to talk, the other talked too much and there was a lot of embellishment going on, a lot of “I don’t know what’s wrong,” or “all I said was,” or “I never said THAT,” or “talk to her, I haven’t done anything wrong.”

The fact of the matter was, there was something wrong, on both sides and no one could ever come to any kind of middle ground. No one wanted to admit they were wrong, that YES, hurtful things were said; angry words were spoken that shouldn’t have been; and a seemingly irreparable tear continued to get bigger and bigger. Make no mistake, I did my fair share of siding with one over the other–that’s what we do. When we think one is more right over the other, then those mistakes all become much more than they actually were or are. I mean, after all; when something horrific happens in the news, it’s splashed all over the media and we hungrily lap it up, looking for more and more salacious information to feed our need to see the “bad” in someone, as opposed to the “good.”

The fact of the matter is, I saw myself as some kind of a savior–bringing my mother and sister back into the fold–kiss and make up time–now we’re all one big happy family. And, it finally happened! But not through any machinations on my part. My sister went through a bad breakup with her boyfriend of 5 years and he asked her to move out of his house. There is a whole lot more to the breakup, and it’s not important now, but it added to the drama and yes, I played into it. My Mother offered to let her move in with her–something she has done many, many times over the years to others, including my youngest daughter for a few short months last year, as well as offering loans to a good many of the family.

Suffice to say, once the dust settled, I determined that it wasn’t such a good thing after all. Because of the circumstances of her move, I was very skeptical. How could this be! After years of trying to get them back together I saw her as some sort of interloper. Were there issues? You betcha! Were there problems? Absolutely! Was it my business? Yes and no. My mother was widowed over 10 years ago and Dad left her very comfortable, and I felt that she was being manipulated. To some degree, she was, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I wanted Mom to be happy but I didn’t want anyone to take advantage of her and I saw that happening.

Over the last year, my sister and I embarked on a back and forth barrage of not-so-nice barbs and attacks on each other on the Internet.

It was not pretty.

I felt I was always right, as did she. I felt I had all the answers, as did she. I felt it was my business to stick my nose in their business and she, obviously, did not. While my interference was well intentioned, it wasn’t seen that way. There were lies being told, accusations being made and more words spoken and written that were cause for much regret and hurt. As much as I think she’d hate to admit it, she and I are more alike than different and it was an almost impossible task to get us to agree on anything.

I am not religious at all and she is very much so, another reason for the two of us to peck at each other. I have another sister who is also very religious, but she and I can have a normal conversation about religion–realizing that neither of us will change our respective minds, and we don’t end up on opposite ends of the barbs. We overlook all the effluvia that a religious exchange between two totally differing people take into account and we move on. I love her and she loves me and the differences we have don’t change that.

As I mentioned at the beginning, all of this played out on social media. There was literally not one day that went by that one or the other of us posted something, directed at each other in a not-so-offhand way, meant to incite something in the other. Then, we were off and running!! The barbs, the snide remarks, the snarky comments, the pointed memes, the overwhelming one sided support on both sides from well meaning friends and family. Take a side, pick your opponent, lay down your bets!! Who’s going to win this round!?!

Only it wasn’t funny or cute or intelligent or necessary. It was stupid and childish and hurtful. It was two grown women sniping at each other for all the world to see. Sisters who should be supporting each other and loving each other and being there for each other. I have a LOT of issues. My sister has a LOT of issues, but we’re both going about this the wrong way. Instead of me trying to help her through a very hard time, I’m making it even worse. Instead of rekindling the friendship that we used to have years ago (yes, we were actually roommates when we were younger), she is trying her best to shove me out of her life. With good reason, I haven’t been a very nice person.

I’m by no means shouldering the entire blame for our childish behaviour, she is just as culpable as I am and hopefully one day she can see that as well. I needed to open myself up entirely to my part in this and try to change my thought processes and the way I actually deal with things. I needed to own this and move on. I needed to “grow up.” I needed to forgive myself for my horrid treatment of someone who I profess to love, yet haven’t shown it in any measurable way in the last few years.

Still learning.

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