“Regrets are idle; yet history is one long regret. Everything might have turned out so differently.”

18 Feb
Sorry it took so long to respond but as for the unsigned card, if anything, she was only trying to protect me…she has always been cautious of that since you went away and I think its always going to be in her mind, regardless of what changes. Maybe you werent ready, but neither was I, it happened, and maybe we could have all handled it differently but what happened happened, and we cant change that.Over the years, I have learned that people have to earn my trust, I dont give it easily anymore. I gave you my trust back then and you left…unforunately, trust has to be earned again.Hope the girls are doing well

I found this in my facebook inbox from my half sister last night, in reference to a conversation we had a few months back.

Part of me is really fucking angry. The other half just doesn’t care. Maybe it’s something about being lectured on trust by a 20 year old that’s pissing me off. Maybe it’s the knowledge that she’s had a relatively easy life that’s eating at me.

Maybe it’s recognizing myself in that 11 year old, knowing that feeling of being abandoned and left behind.

I don’t feel like I can explain to her that none of this was done to hurt anyone-that that situation was one that I was in no way really prepared to deal with, especially not in the all or nothing manner my birth mother decided things needed to be. I can’t explain to her-I just can’t explain to her the hurt and the pain I went through with this-the absolute obviousness of standing outside of a family that would never be mine, but was by blood. I can’t explain to her the loss of one mother, and the seeming rejection of another.

I can’t possibly explain the pain of watching her mother hold her, while I stood holding up a wall, staring out a window pretending I didn’t care.

There is a gulf, and I’m not sure I even want to bother crossing it.

*****************************

Sure, she was 10 or 11. But I was 19, and eager to be done with things, eager to move on, away, into my life. She was a kid. She had her mother, and her father, a large extended family who loved and coddled her as the baby she was. I cast a thought behind me, regret perhaps, sadness at a life I wouldn’t have, a sister I truly would never had, and moved on. I never let myself love her. I liked her. But I never opened my heart fully.

I couldn’t. The tenuous heartbreak of watching my mother love her was bad enough. I had my heart, and life broken once before. There was no way-absolutely no way I was opening myself up to that again.

The one Christmas I spent with them, my mother became ill. I stood beside her bed, unsure-hold her hand? Walk away, leave them to be by themselves? As I was thinking, she screamed “Stop staring at me! Get out!”

I fled.

They pulled her out of the house by ambulance as I stood watching, unsure of my place, unsure of what anger or sadness I might be entitled to. My heart pulled the shutters it allowed to open back in, and steeled itself for the worst.

My sister was comforted by her family, and I felt envy for the arms that wrapped around her. I had my future husband, and myself.

***************************

I’m angry with her because in my eyes, she has everything-everyone. Love,  security. She’s never wanted for a thing. She’s never suffered, not from anything I can grasp as suffering. She’s been the darling baby of her family, a pet almost. I can’t shake the feeling that I’m talking to a petulant little child who has never grasped that the world doesn’t revolve around her.

I thought of her constantly. I wanted to reach out to her, but worried her mother, our mother, would prevent it. I wanted a sister, I wanted someone else in my life.

I didn’t want this. I didn’t want someone implying that I’m selfish and that I’ve hurt them on purpose. And it’s this that breaks my heart and is leading me to decide to finally cut contact for once and for all. I’m tired of this half assed “Family” sending me checks based in guilt and the odd Christmas card. What’s there to be guilty of? They owe me nothing.

I owe her nothing. Her heartbreak is as much her mother’s fault as her own, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to be pointed to as her little destroyer of worlds.

But why does this still hurt me so much?

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18 Responses to ““Regrets are idle; yet history is one long regret. Everything might have turned out so differently.””

  1. Gwen February 18, 2008 at 12:03 pm #

    Oh, that’s hard, T. I thought I knew everything when I was 20. Maybe your half sister will figure it out in the next 10 years, but it’s not going to be easy for you to sit around waiting for that to happen.

  2. Bon February 18, 2008 at 1:38 pm #

    oh wow. i have a half-sister i bear some of the same resentments toward…not really her fault, but the fault of adults in both our lives who failed to make me feel as important as they should, and who made her feel entitled. the imbalance – and the lack of recognition and ownership of it – hurts me deeply. i would figure it would hurt you too.

    the bitterness this little sister is unloading on you, though? that’s beyond. that’s not fair. she thinks she’s been hurt because you essentially got hustled out of the family. i don’t think she’s made much effort to extend her sympathy beyond herself…to realize that you have been far more hurt by the overall circumstances than she was by the “loss” of you as an active figure in her life. you lost two mothers, one at the age she was when she suffered this great hardship.

    she needs to grow up.

    however, cutting the rest of the family off to spite HER – or even to try to sort out your confusion and hurt about her – may not really solve anything. just sayin’.

    i’m so sorry.

  3. Marcy February 18, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    Huh. I find myself sympathizing with both of you. From her perspective, I bet she’s telling the truth as she feels it, just as you are from yours.

  4. Marcy February 18, 2008 at 1:53 pm #

    Does it matter who hurts more? To each of us our own pain hurts enough.

  5. thordora February 18, 2008 at 2:30 pm #

    I know she hurts too-and it’s not a matter of who hurts more, it really isn’t.

    It’s a matter of not knowing what to do-how to proceed. Do I apologize for something I don’t feel bad for? Do I apologize for something others did?

    I’ve felt mostly done with all of them for awhile-for this sense that since I wasn’t playing by “their” rules, I wasn’t to be counted.

    It’s all just as confusing now as it was when I was 19.

  6. Julie Pippert February 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    20 year olds think they know and understand it all. They think they are grown-ups. Even the mature and old soul ones haven’t lived enough life to understand the murkiness of motives.

    I am sure you are both utterly sincere and yet, in the end, it’s judgment. I understand you feel you can’t reach past that judgment of hers, and you don’t want to add to it, or face a rejection of your explanation.

    But what if your motive was to simply reach out and hand her an olive branch and then…LET GO. No expectation. It’s up to her. Could you? Would you?

    The topic is opened, I think in a way she is saying, “Please make me understand.”

    You write so movingly and eloquently. You can write something I am sure that offers her the chance, if she wants to take it.

    (hug)

  7. thordora February 18, 2008 at 2:58 pm #

    When I was out for lunch, I had that same thought. What if I just write it down-all of it. Lay it out for her, and step back. Make it her choice.

    I don’t want to force myself in her life. I would like to be part of it. Hell, trying to tell myself I didn’t care made me cry. I want my daughters to know her.

    But not like this.

  8. Carin February 18, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    I feel for you, but I don’t think any of us have the right to say anyone else had an easy life. But I’m sure you already know this. Good luck, and know that no matter what, you’re entitled to feel what you feel.

  9. Hannah February 18, 2008 at 3:31 pm #

    I hear you, after making contact with my birth father three years ago (after over twenty years of silence) I have allowed the tenuous threads of a relationship (?) to lapse… there is just too much resentment, and anger, that he refuses to acknowledge.

    If you want to email me about this we can talk… .

  10. bine February 18, 2008 at 3:49 pm #

    i think this is a very good idea – writing it all down and leaving it to her. if it’s hard for her to find the trust this may be the best way to earn it.

    i guess i can understand you both. but you should be able to get together without old feelings of hurt. and your daughters too.

  11. Marcy February 18, 2008 at 7:10 pm #

    Later, I was reminded about this study on symbolic opposition that I read in college — the idea was that in this high school there were basically two groups, because they were opposed to one another, they went farther to the extreme in their directions than they would have if alone. I think that happens any time we feel misunderstood — we dig in and get louder about our side of things, making it more and more difficult to reconcile. If you feel she doesn’t get you, you’ll focus more and more on your side, and if she feels you don’t get her, she’ll self-focus, too.

    I like your idea of writing it all out and offering it as information.

  12. thordora February 18, 2008 at 7:35 pm #

    Honestly, there’s a LOT more tied up in this than I might be speaking to. Finding your birth family is horribly confusing, made all the worse by losing my mother, and my father being a social alcoholic at the time (who fell off the wagon after I found my bio family, leading to a fair amount of guilt for awhile).

    Finding a birth family in your teens is not something I’d wish for anything. Throwing a pre-teen sibling into the mix is a recipie for disaster. Add to that the fact that most of my aunts and my grandfather speaks to me, and my mother refuses to…..

    there’s a good reasoning for me to consider just ending contact. My sister acts like I did all the cutting. I sent emails for her, that obviously her mother intercepted. I asked after her. Her mother stopped calling me. Her mother stopped responding. After awhile, I didn’t feel welcome to contact.

    Regardless, I’ll bear the blame, and I don’t wish to call out someone’s mother. They adore each other. Maybe I’m jealous-but I don’t want to ruin that relationship. Whatever my mother said to my sister in the intervening years isn’t anything I can control or fix.

    I want to not care. That’s what I really want.

  13. cat February 18, 2008 at 9:59 pm #

    We care because family is supposed to be just that… family. It’s hard to put people into context who are named that and don’t act that way or who fall far from the center of it. Still we care because it feels natural and it’s human. It feels guilty to cut the tie, I feel the same with my blood family, yet cut ties anyway to save my sanity and protect my real family who are mostly not blood. It’s ok to walk away, it is also ok to be angry and frustrated that it couldn’t be what you wanted it to be.

  14. Marcy February 19, 2008 at 9:19 am #

    Sorry, Thor; I’m not trying to blame you or anything. It certainly sounds like a yikes situation all around. I can’t even connect with the sister I’ve always had — not that we don’t speak, but there’s just not much relationship there.

  15. thordora February 19, 2008 at 9:29 am #

    You aren’t Marcy-I’m just being a good Libra and sitting on the fence, perpetually unable to come down on one side. If I COULD just be mad at her, or me, it would be easier.

    I just look at my girls, and wish I had a sister. My brother and I aren’t close, not really, and I wish….I don’t know what I wish for.

  16. bromac February 19, 2008 at 10:57 am #

    If you wish for a sister, then put in the work to create one. But, remember, life is a long time and she is a young one. It may take her years. Fortunately, you’re old and wise enough to understand that anger today turns into something completely different as years pass. 20 is young, remember the perspective.

  17. Candy February 19, 2008 at 5:00 pm #

    At 17, my daughter could have written that letter to you. They are simply so certain of themselves, in some respects…so convinced their higher morality is justified.

    Mine makes comments like “I would never choose a boy over my friends” or “I would never allow a boyfriend to treat me like that” and she means it. But she has absolutely no experience with anything.

    Your sister may simply be suffering from an overabundance of confidence. I’d re-evaluate her when she grows up. And don’t forget…20 is the new 10.

  18. thordora February 19, 2008 at 5:07 pm #

    That’s why I’m holding back and giving it a LOT of thought before responding. She’s not the 20 year old I was. WHich isn’t a judgement, just a fact. My 20 and her 20 are so different…..

    I don’t remember being that black and white about things. Far too grey if anything…

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