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11 April 2006

Family is weird. [More:]After a recent visit where we were together for the first time since mom's memorial service over 5 years ago, I've concluded that I have nothing in common with my 3 older sisters (no brothers) other than our parents. It was awkward, and made feelings of being orphanlike bubble up again.

We're geographically scattered: oldest is outside of Erie PA, next oldest is 45 minutes down the road, the one just above me is in upstate SC - the perfect place for her as an evangelistic born again. We average 2 years or less between us.

Mrs chewy kicked my ass and said, "you spent a couple of hours with them! how could you find common ground in that short a period?"

And maybe it all boils down to being hurt b/c mrs chewy and I married each other last fall and none of my family congratulated us except the one down the road, and even then she threw anonymous cash in our wishing well - no card. I dunno I guess I felt like I was there for all their weddings - even the ones at the courthouses, and the second weddings after divorces etc.

I guess I'm just having a poutfest. I'll get over it. Thanks for listening, you guys.
When I got married, the only person from my fiancée's family who even bothered to show up was her biological father, whom she hadn't seen in ten years. Her mom, her sister, the man who raised her... nobody else came to this expensive ass wedding we threw expecting everyone to be there. She tried to act like it didn't bother her but I know it really did.

Weddings are a time for family, and for leaving differences and prejudices at home. I know how you feel, if only by proxy, and I believe you have a right to be hurt.

posted by mike9322 11 April | 07:31
Thanks, mike. you're a good guy!
posted by chewatadistance 11 April | 07:45
My sister is 3 years older than me. She's been married six times (which in England is a huge deal). The first time she got married, she had a great big fat wedding, six bridesmaids (3 adult, 3 little ones), but I wasn't asked to be a bridesmaid. I'm her only sister, and, nearly 30 years on, it still smarts.

I went to the second wedding, but wasn't invited to any of the others.

I see her twice a year, and each time, the gap grows wider. We have nothing in common. The only books in her house are the Yellow Pages and the Argos catalogue. The only TV she watches are soaps. I find all her conversation inane.

I don't know why I bother sometimes.

But what I find hard to understand is how I can still be so hurt by someone I wouldn't be friends with if we weren't related.
posted by essexjan 11 April | 07:49
You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family. I feel for you. I've got a few fundamentalist christian relatives that send me "educating" tapes. Yeah right. But it still feels bad if they're your flesh and blood that you have to cut them off or be cut off. Just be glad that you love your Mrs. and get love back. that's the most important thing, the family, you just have to manage.
posted by keijo 11 April | 07:51
Chewy, I'm sorry they're so flaky, but it's not your fault. They are the ones missing out by being so distant, and they definitely are the ones missing a clue. I agree with keijo -- take joy in your family of choice -- the Mrs., your friends, bunnies.
posted by Miko 11 April | 08:18
What they did was hurtful, so there's nothing wrong with feeling hurt and distanced. But try not to let those true painful feelings harden into some sort of ossified bitterness, because allowing that to happen will ultimately damage you more than the simple raw sting of their actions.

Life has interesting ways of teaching most of us the lessons we need to learn, and maybe one day one or more of your sisters will find themselves soundly shaken and stirred, and perhaps begin to realize that maybe their smug little world view was just an illusion. At a time like that it would be good if you found you still had room in your heart for them.
posted by taz 11 April | 08:26
My family has become much closer since my father died and it's been a shock and a blessing, albeit a mixed one. We were all very distant - I only ever saw my older brother maybe once every three or four years - so when we all ended up congregating at my mom's house on a regular basis, which started at my father's funeral and has continued, it was the first time we'd all been together in probably 10 years and really surprising.

Do we have anything in common? More than I would have thought ~ heh, including what my younger brother calls the family curse of singledom: none of us has had an SO in any real sense for years ~ but not enough to make us friends if we weren't related, that's for sure. Would I have picked a conspiracy theorist and a raving intellectual as siblings? No, man, I would have picked someone rich, generous and as ditzy as me. ;-) But even though they drive me crazy & oftimes we hurt each others' feelings without meaning to, and we bitch about each other to my mom, and I don't know if we will ever see each other when she goes, or if it will degenerate, I'm very grateful for these five years of family. Which is all a very long way of saying what taz just said - keep room in your heart for them, because circumstances change, blood is thicker than water, and you never know. And at some point in your life you may want to remember being 8, and nobody, but nobody, can help you do that as well as a sibling.

Also, hugs. They were wrong not to come to your wedding, incredibly wrong and your hurt is justified. I know - my parents refused to come to mine and it irrationally upset me, even though I knew if they had it would have been bad.
posted by mygothlaundry 11 April | 08:51
I've concluded that I have nothing in common with my 3 older sisters (no brothers) other than our parents

I know the feeling: the sister three years my junior married herself a Lebanese doctor and they've already had a (admittedly adorable) kid and are happily upwardly mobile and currently live around the block from my folks. She had a somewhat rebellious crunchy girl period where she dated this insane loser back in her teens, but she's straightened up and flown right. The baby (now 20) is an overacheiving academic grind who's in a sorority. Maybe watching the other kids misadventures as a toddler encouraged her on the straight & narrow. And then there's me. But people gotta be what people gotta be, and we've started to get to the point where we don't try to change eachother anymore.
posted by jonmc 11 April | 09:35
I hear you guys on keeping the door open, I probably will. I don't hate these people.

I also realized there is much to clarify from my initial thread. I'm the only gay kid in the family. I'm out to everyone, and the only one who has expressed disapproval is of course the born again one. But even so, she says she still loves me. That was a fun filled long distance phone call in which she threw her bible at me and I told her she was brainwashed. Ah memories!

When I came out to my Dad a couple of years ago, he pretty much said, "I'm ok with that. Where do you want to have lunch?" and gave me a big hug.

As for the wedding, it was completely private. Just us and the dogs and cats. We decided it ws our deal to make and we didn't need any stamp of approval from anyone. So we married each other with our own vows that morning in our living room. That evening, we had a huge bash, again at our house, which was well attended by 60 people! That's the one my sister down the road came to, and later she did say she felt bad that she didn't put a card in the well along with the $, so she is exempt.

We didn't tell my Dad b/c he has stroke dementia and is basically in outer space most of the time. We didn't tell born againer for obvious reasons. I did send a quick little collage I made of us that day to my oldest sister at Christmas. She never mentioned it, never congratulated us, nothing. I think that is what is bugging me the most.

Sorry for the misleading initial content, you guys.
posted by chewatadistance 11 April | 09:35
jonmc I have to laugh at your post b/c in some circles Lebanese is code for lesbian. I'm assuming you mean nationality...?!

I'm glad you guys exist.
posted by chewatadistance 11 April | 09:39
No, chewie, my bro-in-law is indeed a bro and of middle eastern distaction, not a woman in comfortable shoes.
posted by jonmc 11 April | 09:50
:D (((jonmc)))
posted by chewatadistance 11 April | 10:19
Aw chewie, that's the suck. For years, I tried to encourage my husband to get closer to his brother. He really tried. But they are just so profoundly, fundamentally different that we eventually had to accept that it wasn't going to happen. Once he stopped knocking his head against that brick wall, he had more energy and time to devote to the people he WAS close to and who DID appreciate him.

And really? Lebanese?
posted by jrossi4r 11 April | 13:30
For ten years, my brother and I were just about as estranged as you can get when you still see someone once a year at christmas and call them on their birthday. Neither one of us remembers why, except that we both let petty hurts pile up and convinced ourselves that the other harbored some profound dislike. (To further complicate things, we never really got to know each other -- he's 10 years older than I am and moved off to college when I was in second grade.)

It was horrible. Painful.

On his 40th birthday a few years ago, we talked on the phone for 3 hours and worked it all out. It was an accident, really -- wasn't a conversation either of us had ever planned on having.

Since then we've become very close, and I am so very grateful. Last year he nearly died -- congestive heart failure at 41. He's fine now.

My point is, like taz said, you never know when those lessons are going to beat you over the head. No point in trying to predict when it will happen.

There's also no point in giving up hope. Your family will always be your family.

Here's hoping it happens sooner rather than later.

*hugs all around*
posted by mudpuppie 11 April | 14:19
jrossi: yes ma'am.

pupp: the funny thing is, the born againer still thinks we're all going to live in the same house when we're 80!

Thanks, everyone. I feel better now.
posted by chewatadistance 11 April | 15:13
That's the point. *more hugs to all*
posted by keijo 11 April | 15:39
Bunny OMG!!!! || Rejoice!