Half Sisters, Whole Friends

I started writing this as a piece on half-sisters. But as I wrote I discovered what a huge part my relationship with my half-sisters has played in trust issues in my life. Man, writing is turning out to be such great therapy for me. And it’s free!

So anyway, here is where I started …

What does it mean to be a half-sibling? In some families it might not make a bit of difference – family is family and they love each other just the same. That’s how it should be. Unfortunately, that is not my family.

Let me start off with some background. I have three half-sisters, all a few years older than me. My Dad had two daughters with his first wife, my Mom had one daughter with her first husband and then they got together and had me. As an infant and toddler of course this made no difference to me. But growing up, I noticed more and more how different my relationship with my half-sisters was than other sister relationships I saw. All siblings squabble over toys or tattle on each other. That is natural. But in the non-squabbling, softer moments of life, sisters should be comforting, understanding, mentoring, co-conspirators, bonded for life. A girl’s big sister should be the one person in the family she turns to for embarrassing questions or tells her secrets to. A big sister should be who you’d whisper to about your first crush, first time you got your period, or lost your virginity. I never had that. There were fun moments few and far between the long absences and awkwardness. And there was a year or two in my early twenties I was close with my oldest sister. We had fun together and shared some good laughs. But it didn’t last. It was never easy and rarely ever comfortable. I always felt insecure around her. It didn’t stop me from trying though, but I always came away with hurt feelings or scarred self-esteem. What I am now realizing is that we lacked this thing called trust.

With my sisters there was no trust that we’d have each other’s backs. No trust that there was unconditional love. No trust that our parents loved us equally. No trust that they’d be there for me. No trust that I could confide in them without them turning on me and using it against me. Not even trust that they wouldn’t try to steal boyfriends just to spite me. I wonder when this began. It’s hard to imagine a baby or toddler having automatic lack of trust. And yet, I know it was there far before my teen years. I remember incidents when I was seven or eight, when my sister would write made up things in my diary and then leave it open for my mom to read it to get me in trouble. (Like what kinds of REAL things could an eight year old do to really get in trouble? Not the same things a thirteen year old thought of, that’s for sure.) There were times when my sisters dared me to moon vehicles passing by, or locked me out of the house until my parents came home, tried to teach me to smoke cigarettes, or dragged me along to parties when they were supposed to be babysitting me. I always felt like they were trying to embarrass me or get me into trouble. And if their friends picked on me, all the more fun for them, they never stood up for me. They teased me when I had crushes on the older boys, they let their bitch friends slap me, and the time I blew up and would never take it again was when I was seventeen and one of my sister’s friends threatened to sleep with my boyfriend because he was hot. She said this shit to my face! I think I threw a curling iron at her if I remember correctly. So yes, I have a definite mistrust of those who called themselves my sisters.

And this is where I ended up…

It is only coming clear to me now that this treatment is what has caused me to have issues with girls in general over the years. Now, I won’t say I have a hard time making friends or getting along with girls. Granted in my college years it was much easier to make friends with guys. I had a lot of guy friends I loved hanging out with, but let’s face it: most started with an initial thought of trying to hook up with me. Or vice versa. But as fun as my male friends were, most were still not the ones I would divulge my emotional thoughts and weaknesses to. No, we went drinking and rafting and watched Adam Sandler movies. But I’ve always had a best female friend or two or four. Some have changed over the years; some are still by BFF’s from High School. A girl needs her girls to dish about that mushy stuff that guys hate. I think I can generally make friends and keep friends easily. My friends become closer to me than family. I have some friends that I feel like are my true sisters at heart.

However, there is a certain kind of girl I can be friends with and a certain kind of girl I absolutely cannot. And I typically know within about ten minutes of meeting someone which category they fit into. I must have a built in bitch detector after all those years of abuse. In my younger years the bitch-to-good person ratio was much higher, probably due to where I lived, but now with maturity, age, wisdom and a better attitude on my end, it has gone down. I estimate that about 30% of women fall into the ‘could never be friends with’ category. And being a ‘bitch’ isn’t really the deal breaker – heck sometimes I’m a snippy bitch – its what kind of bitch they are. And what kind of person they are. It is the difference between a ‘don’t let people walk all over you’ and occasionally mouthy type, versus a ‘purposefully deceitful and spiteful to others’ type. There is a big difference. We’ll call them strong women –vs- evil conniving bitches. I’m talking the Courtney’s & Blakely’s of the world (for you Bachelor fans). The women who obnoxiously over-use their sexuality to get what they want, then flaunt it in other women’s faces. The women who lie and cheat. The women who compete with other women just to win, not because they actually want it. The women who set other women up to fall then laugh about it behind their backs. The women who are so easy to hate when we see them on TV. Yes, these women really do exist in our communities as well. In my world they were the Angie’s, Red-Sonya’s and Jaquelyn’s. These are the women I don’t trust and I don’t have time for. These are the women I might accidentally give the stink eye to as if just to say “I see you, I know you’re evil”.

You see I am a firm believer in the sisterhood/friendship code. You don’t sleep with your sister’s or best friends’ exes (or currents for that matter). You tell your friend if her boyfriend is cheating on her. You back up your friends when others bad mouth them. You protect them from bad situations when you can. Twice in Junior High and High School I set aside interest I had in certain boys because my best friend liked them. And even when they didn’t like her back, I still never went for it because it would have hurt her feelings. Once at a bar a guy my sister liked was flirting with me. She told me I should go for it, but I was like no way, you like him (plus I was 21 and he was like 40). A couple years later, that same sister ended up marrying a guy who had dumped me. Awkward!

I never wanted to be in a sorority because of my perceptions and mistrust of other girls. The more women you were exposed to, the more there were to cause trouble for you. I was so used to these types of women that when I joined Mary Kay for a couple years I actually had a hard time believing that the women there were really that nice and supportive. I assumed it was fake because I just wasn’t used to women helping each other succeed. It took me a long time to believe it. Now that I am open to it, I notice women helping and encouraging each other all over the place. In business, Twitter, Facebook, other mothers at school. So I am more willing to give people a chance than I used to be. I had a bad tendency to assume the worst. Now I look for the best. My Evil-Conniving-Bitch detector still works great though and steers me clear of those girls. Luckily as an adult it is a lot easier to avoid the ECB’s out there (unless you work with one).

And how is my relationship with my half-sisters now? Non-existent. I was tired of being the only one trying so I gave up. And you know what, even though I have occasional guilt, overall I am much happier without the stress and insecurities that went with it. My true friends make me feel alive, happy, fun, appreciated, understood, loved, accepted, and chosen.

Anyone else have similar sister issues? Do you have a loving network of friends that encourage and insire you? Anyone else have a built-in Super ECB detector? (Obviously Bachelor Ben Flajnik doesn’t)


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