My sister is getting married in August, and she’s been texting me pictures of wedding dresses all day.  She looks happy, healthy, wonderful.  I can’t help but envy her a little.

It’s a weird thing, almost a role reversal.  See, she’s two years younger than me, and I spent most of my life taking care of her and our youngest sister.  Our parents were not exactly what you’d call good parents, or anything vaguely resembling it.  I tried, with only limited success, to shield her (both my sisters) from our father’s sexual abuse and our mother’s emotional abuse.  A therapist once asked me if I was proud that I’d basically raised my sisters, and I realized I was.  Both of them turned out happier and more stable than me, which I consider a big success, given our circumstances. 

My middle sister, the one who’s getting married, is the most stable and successful of the three of us.  She finished college in four years, got a BS in criminal justice, and is now working as a police officer.  She’s been with her fiance for around three years now, and they’ve even successfully raised a very cute pair of puppies together.  I’m proud of her, and I’m so glad she’s happy.

I guess it just makes me feel like a failure.  I’m the oldest, so I should’ve gotten my life together first.  I shielded her from some of the abuse, but she still got a lot of it.  Our histories aren’t that different, but she’s dealt with hers a lot better than I have.  What do I have to show for my life?  No college degree, no job, a complicated-to-the-point-of-inexplicable relationship with B, very few friends.  My closest relationship is with my toilet, for god’s sake.

I know I shouldn’t judge myself against anyone else, but let’s be honest–everyone does it.  It’s even harder not to judge myself against her since we share the same gene pool and the same home environment.  It’s especially hard because our roles in the family have shifted somewhat.  I used to be the overachiever who never got into trouble, and she got drunk and did drugs and slept with a lot of guys.  (She was always our mother’s favorite, though, and all her mistakes were overlooked.)  But now she’s successful, and I’m not.  The contrast makes it harder.

I’d never want to take away her happiness or success; she absolutely deserves it.  I love my sisters more than anyone else in the universe, and I’d do anything for them.  But I want to be successful and happy too.



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3 responses to “Sister/Sister

  1. missmultiple

    I am the oldest as well. I did the same thing you did, tried to shield my siblings and raise them. To this day, my now eleven year old little sister still slips up and tries to call me Mom. My other younger sister is now in her junior year of college. I graduated high school a year before her and scored higher on the standardized tests, but I’m a year and a half behind her in college. Why? because I tried to stay at home to protect my brother and sister and found that I couldn’t handle the stress of school at the same time. The only reason I am in college at all is because a few wonderful people came along and offered to help me through financially and emotionally. Without them, I wouldn’t be in school either.

    We both might benefit from reminding ourselves that our siblings’ success is also partly ours. We are part of the reason they have been so successful, kinda like the school teacher whose student goes on to do great things. Yeah that’s it, we are like school teachers. 🙂

  2. I think your feelings make perfect sense from what you’ve said. But I also think that doesn’t take away from your happiness for your sister. Be proud of what you have achieved, for both you and your sister, but be gentle on yourself too.

  3. I get it. This is heartbreaking for me to read. My sister is the successful one in our family also. I also shielded her from our dads alcoholism as much as I could growing up. She’s almost 9 years younger than I am. Yet I am the one with mh issues, I am the one with all the problems, while she has two beautiful kids, and is a hair dresser by trade. It seems so unfair doesnt it? I just want you to know I hear you and I understand completely. Hugs!

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