Monday, May 10, 2010

Five for Ten: Courage

Two of my most favorite people in the Blogosphere, Jen and Sarah from Momalom, are embarking on round two of their wildly popular Five for Ten series.

If you are interested in joining in or just finding out what all the fuss is about, you can do so here. Or you can just click on the handy little button on my sidebar.

There are tons of terrific, thoughtful voices participating, so I encourage you to hop on over to Momalom this week and check the links!

So on with the first topic of the week--Courage.

Many of you have asked why I write so often about Mama and Daddy but don't tell more tales about my sister. I've mentioned her a few times, like here and here and here, but for the majority of the time, I'm fairly closed-lipped about the subject of my sister (nearly 4 years my senior).

And many of you readers, clever dogs that you are, smelled something rotten. Because I can't keep my mouth shut for anything. Why would I, the girl who always has the flapping pie-hole, be quiet on this subject?

Because talking about my sister makes me incredibly uncomfortable. Sad. Angry. Ashamed. And really mixed-up. Most of all, it makes me afraid.

I'm afraid that when you hear the story of my sister, you will judge me. I'm afraid that you'll think less of me, think I'm a coward, think I have ice running in my veins.

I'm also afraid that all of those above things, when it comes to my sister, might be true.

But maybe after a year of blogging and dancing around the subject, it's time to quit being such a ninny. Maybe I just need to muster the courage to lay it all out there, for you to make of it what you will.

My sister, like many older siblings, was less than thrilled about my arrival. She quite liked being the lone wolf, the center of attention. She sulked when Mama brought me, swaddled and squalling, home one February day. Everyone else saw a baby. She saw an Interloper.

This is, of course, completely normal. What kid doesn't want to be the only game in town? Difference is, most older siblings eventually get over the affront of having to share top billing. My sister never did.

My first clear childhood memory is of a hard shove to the back and a tumble down a flight of stairs. I learned to always hold the railing after that. And no, I didn't tell on her.

I never told on her, even when she locked me in our dank, spider-infested basement for hours when she babysat. I didn't tell when she got into cars with strange boys. I didn't tell when I found two bottles of schnaaps hidden in a backpack in her room. I didn't tell when she came back from a Tom Petty concert with five angry, purple hickeys. I didn't tell when she told me I was weak and stupid and spineless.

I didn't tell on her because I deeply, desperately wanted her to like me. She never did.

Don't get me wrong; she wasn't always cruel. There were times (usually when there was nobody else around to entertain her) when she tolerated my presence. I reveled in those times, when I could listen to her stories and watch her every move, as she primped for a school dance or a date, smitten. I loved studying her as she riffled though clothes, experimented with eyeshadow, carefully painted her toenails. I'd lie on her bedroom carpet, Styx or Journey or Foreigner blaring in the background, as she'd regale me, step-by-step, what had transpired at the dance, the party, the concert.

She fascinated me. She was worldly and daring. She always had a boyfriend, if not two. She sassed back, tossed her glossy hair in defiance. She talked on the phone for hours, in hushed secrecy. And I sat in the corner or in the background, studying her. Watching. Because she was everything I was not. Two girls were never more different.

I've studied her all my life. It's uncanny, if not a little disturbing, to go through old photographs and see myself doing this:

She was the butterfly, I was the scientist. She was exotic, mysterious, changeable.

There were a couple of years in college when we actually got along. My rebellion years. The years where I grew so tired of being silent and responsible and good that I decided to become a completely different person. I became the girl who drank alcohol, experimented with a few choice pharmaceuticals, partied until 4 in the morning, kissed dangerous and unsuitable boys. I told Mama to "fuck off."

My sister was delighted with the transformation. "God, you were always so boring," she'd say, rolling her eyes and taking a deep drag of her cigarette. "I always wondered what the Hell was wrong with you. Mom and Dad's little perfect pet. You were so gross."

I'd smile and nod, peeling the label off my bottle of Coors Light, feeling raw and unsettled.

After a few years, I had to abandon the charade. It was just too hard to be an imposter. Deep down, it was my nature to be a cautious brown moth.

The most compelling reason for my defection: my devil-may-care, daring sister was quickly moving into reckless territory. She started cracking beers at 7 in the morning. "Lookee here! Cereal!" she'd say, waving the can and laughing.

On weekends, she passed out at noon, slept until 4, woke up ready to continue the party. She began craving stronger, more dangerous highs. She showed up late for holiday gatherings, eyes dilated and skittish, chattering with manic verve. For the first time in her life, she wasn't struggling with her weight. I began noticing mysterious, inexplicable dents in her car. Her boss called several times, concerned because she hadn't shown up for work, and did I know anything?

My parents asked questions. I lied. I kept her secrets like I'd always done, partly out of fear and partly because I didn't know how to do anything else. I felt dirty, ashamed. She expected my silence, I'd kept it, and now that things had spiraled deeply out of hand, didn't that make me an accomplice?

Finally, the weight was just too heavy to bear. I did something I never thought I'd do. I confronted my sister. Shaking, I told her that she was off the rails, needed to stop. The results were incendiary. Denial. Lies. Spite. Years and years of buried resentment, now put into words, given life.

"I hate you," she hissed at me, pinning me against the door. And suddenly, with a bolt of clarity, I realized that it was true.

She refused to get help. From that day forward, I was done.

I did not tell my parents much. I never will. Frankly, they'd known plenty for many, many years, just as I had. They aren't blind, and they understand my decision.

I have not seen my sister in over ten years. She has never met my daughters, although she is desperate to do so. I have spoken to her maybe a handful of times on the phone, and she's always sounded loaded, so the conversation is short.

There's been rehab and relapse and rehab again. Wash, rinse, repeat. There's been so much hope on my parents' end, hope that's dashed and kicked to the ground, only to rise again with the latest promise or subterfuge. They sometimes believe her.

I do not. I cannot. I won't. Because I know her. All those years spent watching...I know her better than anyone, perhaps because I spent so many years trying to find a way in, a way to her heart.

She has periods of being clean. People ask me why I don't reach out to her then, let her know how proud I am, try to re-build fences. When they ask me, I don't know how to answer. There are so many things swirling in the mix: anger, guilt, hurt, grief, hope. My final answer is just that I don't trust.

I don't trust her. I don't trust her promises. I don't trust her to do the hard work of staying sober, because she's never done anything hard. I don't trust her not to rekindle hope and then disappear again for days, weeks, years. I don't trust her not to charm my girls, win their open and easy hearts, then shatter them.

Am I hard-hearted? Maybe. Paranoid? Possibly. Unbending? Probably. But I'm also a mother now. And there are things more important than saving a relationship that never did anything but falter.

That I'm writing this piece for Momalom, a blog started by two sisters, is a sad little irony. I envy Jen and Sarah. I envy their bond, their knowledge that they will always have each other.

A kinship like that is something I've been denied, and like a petulant child, I feel small and cheated. I grieve the loss of my sister, but more than that, I grieve for the kind of sisterhood I always yearned for and never had. I grieve for myself, that little girl watching her sister's every move, begging to be let in.

When Miss M. was born, I was bowled over with joy and wonder and most of all, hope. I hope my two little girls won't squander the gift that has been given them. The bond of sisterhood. The beauty of having someone who knows you, marrow-deep, like nobody else. Please let them be gentle with each other. Let them realize that the strings that tether them together are not chains, but gold.


  1. Kitch, thanks for having the courage to speak your truth. Your alter ego queried what courage means. I think it means being honest and true to yourself even if it's not the easy or popular path.

    And I hope that through this crazy blogging community you find a kind of sisterhood. One that will not be cruel or unkind. But one that embraces you because of all that makes you who you are.

  2. Wow. TKW, this is brave. I am so sorry for the pain of this relationship, which is tangible in your words. I can absolutely and utterly see why you have responded the way you have and I don't think you are any of the things you feared we might think. None of them. I think you are wise and human and hurt and worried. I hope that watching your own two girls, and hoping that their bond blooms, is a way of healing this. At least a little

  3. I am somewhat estranged from my sister too, altho to a lesser extent. It's really sad tho. But we have to have limits on what we can take. Such courage you have to write this and for having lived it. Thank you for telling it.

  4. Wow, Kitch, this is an amazing, amazing piece. I am so sorry you have to go through this. I don't have a sister, and always sort of wanted one, because I romanticized the ideas of sisterhood ties. It sounds like you made the right decision, though. You've offered yourself time and time again, to no avail. You have to make the decision that's best for you and your family, not her. Those pictures of you as a child are heartbreaking and capture so much of what you're saying here. It can help remind us that as we're raising our children, the bond of siblings is so important, and we have to foster it the best we can. Thanks for having the courage to share your story.

  5. TKW, that was so beautiful! And to think I encouraged you to write a courageous recipe!

    I know what it's like to be disappointed by sisters and to have them less than thrilled at my birth. Your sister's addictions are heartbreaking, but at the root of it all, before she was ever an addict, there was hate and resentment. If she ever makes it through recovery she'll have to get through that stuff. Some people aren't honest enough to do that job.

    The pictures are too much. Precious. Vulnerable. Thanks.

  6. Beautiful, Kitch. Heartbreaking and bittersweet and painful, but beautifully written - and the end about your girls, that is what's beautiful. The promise of it. Of "someone who knows you, marrow-deep." Wow.

    I think you've done the right thing. It's hard to see close-knit families and feel that tinge of jealousy. It's probably why you've tried with your sister in the past. But now, you have your own family. And sadly, you know any efforts with your sister would be for naught. You're a brave woman!

  7. Whoa, girl. You just knocked this one out of the park. The writing is painfully good and the story is personal and raw. For as much as I love your humor and your recipes, no one does vulnerable as well as you.

    Thank you for sharing this story. I hope that the courage it took to share this helps your heart continue to heal.


  8. This took a lot of courage to put down in words. I think the worst pain and disappointment can come from those who are closest to us. I don't understand how anyone could hate you, and agree that when a relationship is toxic to your family it cannot be continued no matter who it is with. I think with your loving guidance your girls are well on their way to respecting and appreciating each other as sisters.

  9. TKW - that is beautifully heartbreaking. Your honesty is raw and wonderful. So what if you feel you are paranoid or unbending - you've walked this road too long to not know what is best for you and for YOUR family.
    I admire your honesty and your resolve....You are courageous.

  10. Brave, courageous, honest post. Thank you for sharing, you had me spell bound. I can imagine how hard it was to share, and I hope that in doing so it helped. For me, that's always been the case.

    We could have a long, long talk about our sisters. My story is quite different, but trust me when I say in my own way I can relate.


  11. Writing this must have taken nearly as much courage as living it. I'd give you a hug if I could right now...

  12. TKW - I admire your courage in writing this post. My own was also of family but I couldn't bring myself to admit who that was, but you did. That's guts.

    I don't have any siblings, and when I imagined a sister, I always hoped for what Jen and Sarah have. But, as you pointed out, not all of us are that fortunate.

    The person I once looked up to and wanted to have a relationship with more than anything was my dad but a few years ago, I realized that some bonds, even if it's blood, are not worth pursuing. It was with heavy heart that I wrote him out of my life and it is probably one of the best things I did. I no longer lived in his shadow, with dashed hopes and embarrassment of the person I wish he would've been but never was. Someday, I hope to have your courage to write about this myself.

    Thanks for your honesty. I'm here from Momalom and will be staying awhile.

  13. I am stunned at the open, honesty and beauty of this post, TKW. I sincerely hope that in writing it, it has helped you.

    May your girls have the relationship that you longed for with your own sister - they surely have the most wonderful of mothers to teach them to appreciate each other. You are right to protect them, though it must be so hard to do.

    I am honored to have read this, thank you.

  14. This post so resonated with me Kitch. No, I didn't endure quite the same with my older brother but the desire to WANT to be liked, noticed, appreciated was similar. I also never tattled on my brother, and always jumped to his defense. I so wanted that sense of companionship and partnership that I always dreamed a sibling would bring. But it never did. And it frustrated me for my entire growing up years and still does. I still fight for our friendship but don't even know why.. there just isn't one there.

    What you did, realizing that the relationship was unhealthy and walking away, took such courage. I applaud you for that. Your sister does not deserve your love. Your support. Your forgiveness. For all she put you through, you definitely deserve better.

    This was such a well written post my friend. And there's no way in hell ANYONE would judge you negatively for writing it.


  15. You're right, it does take courage to speak up. It is normal for there to be sibling rivalry and jealousy, but it's also normal to work through it and move on to closeness. That she was never able to do that is sad. It's also sad that you couldn't say anything for so many years.

    "Am I hard-hearted? Maybe. Paranoid? Possibly. Unbending? Probably. But I'm also a mother now. And there are things more important than saving a relationship that never did anything but falter." So true! No, you're not hard-hearted or paranoid or unbending. Not when she's proved she cannot be trusted. (I'm a second daughter too, and my sister, while not like yours also resented my presence a bit and never got over her jealousy. We hardly talk to this day. And no, I don't trust her because she rarely kept her "promises". And I feel better for taking my stand.) And so I applaud you on taking your stand and standing up to her. If she doesn't want to help herself, there's nothing you can do, except protect your precious daughters from her influence and hurt.

  16. Wow. What a powerful story. And thank you for being willing to share it with your readers. I am sorry for everything you went through. Although I can't relate totally, I can compare a little. I am 14 years younger than my oldest sister. I adored her when I was little, slept in her bed almost every night, we were best buddies. She got married when I was 8, I was ecstatic to be a part of her wedding. And then when I was 10 she had her first baby. Everything changed. Being a child myself I had a hard time being excited about, and embracing, the role of "aunt". She had her second child quickly after the first, and those first few years I was more concerned about protecting MY toys than being a doting aunt. She has resented me ever since. She would try to get me busted for smoking cigarettes when I was in high school even though she had nothing to back up her claims. Whether I was or I wasn't, she had no proof. Her "tattle tale" behavior made me feel like I couldn't trust ANY of my siblings (I am the youngest of 5) and I didn't get close to my other sisters until my early 20's when I realized they weren't ALL out to get to me. I am 30 now and she's in her mid-40's and I barely know her, we barely speak. My nephew, the one who was born when I was 10, is 20 now. I have a unique relationship with him at this point because we're close in age on a different level. At 30, I remember what it's like to be 20 and he can confide in my and my husband. You'd think she'd be glad about that but I am sure she resents me for that too, somehow.

  17. I have just finished every word of your post. I can see that it was difficult to do but hope it has been cathartic for you. You are not your sister's keeper. You are you. And, that you sounds pretty wonderful. It has given me a greater appreciation of my own two sisters. We've had little spats from childhood but never part or end a conversation without saying "I love you". Your photographs show your desire for acceptance by your sister. I feel, however, that the loss is hers. I agree that your little girls don't need her in their lives right now. When they are older and understand the relationship, or lack of, they can decide if they want to know her.

    In the lack of relationship with your sisters, I'm sure there are wonderful women in your life who fill that role.


  18. I love you sweet friend and your big brave heart.

  19. Ok. Now that the tears are dry and I can see again, I'll type my comment. This post is so raw, so beautiful and something I can so relate to. I have four sisters. One I am very close to. The others? Not so much. And for the very similiar reasons you outline here. Then you add a highly dysfunctional mother to the mix and it's a recipe for disaster. When you question yourself (hard-hearted, paranoid, unbending?) you speak of my very fears. But your answer (that you have children to protect) is what *I* always come back to. You are so brave. So courageous. I admire you so.

  20. I have read this at least 3 times. Not only did it make me cry but it made me think. I have an older sister who struggled with an addiction for a long time, an addiction that was extremely damaging to those around her. I didn't talk to her for awhile.

    She managed to recover and we have started our relationship anew. It has been tough because we have years of hurt behind us, but I hope she and I can make something of it.

    As for you? I think you are brave. It takes courage to cut off a relationship that is harmful to you and those you protect (your kids).

  21. Choosing to curtail a relationship we've hoped and hoped to maintain, improve, salvage -- that is its own unique and exquisite pain. I'm so terribly sorry that you've had to feel it.

    Courageously written, TKW.

  22. I have a family member of whom I feel the same way. We are just beginning to not speak and I'm not sure whether it will continue. It takes so much strength to keep someone out. But I am a mother now too and it may just be the right thing to do.
    Thank you for your bravery.

  23. Wow! Definitely on the same page, sister.

  24. I can't type much. I am crying again. I am writing my own post for momalom on courage and it is about my baby sister, 4 years my junior, and many very similar issues. She has made a change, and it took courage, but our relationship will never be the same. I will see her this month and it is has been more than a year since I saw her. I used to see her every day, straining for the perfect sibling relationship.

    Thank you so much for this post. Thank you for your honesty and for trusting us with the pain of this relationship. I totally get it and I am sending you hugs.

    I do not write nearly as well but I hope to feel a weight lifted after I finish writing it.

  25. wow.

    That was really difficult to read. I can't fathom that sort of relationship with my Sister. We recently had a fight and I didn't sleep for a week.

    I am so sorry that you didn't have the relationship that you deserved to have with your Sister, and that she didn't see you for the gift that you are.

  26. My heart aches for you Kitch. Having had that relationship you longed for with my sister I know what you missed. It was amazing and I became a better person for having known her.

    You, my dear, are a truly amazing woman. Not only did you have the courage to share this story, but you had the strength to stand up to your sister. It's never easy to stand up to someone you have placed on such a high pedastal.

    Know that there are hugs handing out over cyberspace just for you!

  27. Oh, my God. I want to give you a big hug after sharing that painful part of your past with all of us--that took a lot of courage to put out there. I only have an older brother (five years my senior, but it always felt like seven as he was a gifted child and therefore was accelerated), and while we had our many, many issues, we've managed to develop a pretty healthy adult relationship, albeit not one without its own drama.

    As for the constantly wanting to be accepted by said sibling, I completely understand.

  28. TKW - I read this earlier today. I am hoping I can get out what is in my mind. You are courageous. Courageous to not trust when some would say you should. Courageous to hope for better for your own daughters in their sisterhood. Courageous to dare it to be different. Love you!!!

  29. Kitch... I'm bawling my eyes out over this post. So painfully beautiful. I'm so glad you do not have her in your life, honestly. It takes so much courage to stand up to a sibling, especially an older one. Deciding to do what is best for YOU and YOUR girls - that is commendable.
    Thank you so much for diving deep, for sharing.

  30. I would never judge you for anything you've said here. Not ever. I'm over here in tears because I can relate to this. I wrote a post about something similar to this not too long ago. My sister and I have never gotten along, and since that post I've come to the realization that we likely never will, either. It's hard to be without something you want badly, but then again, you're better off without the negative element. This post must have taken nerves of steel to write and I admire you for having the courage to write it. Much love to you, KW.

  31. I think your wish for your girls is beautiful. I wish that for my grandsons, too.

    Watching a train wreck in one's family is horrible--especially if you're injured in the process. Seeing the pictures made my heart ache for you.

    Big hug!

  32. You can sure as heck say something poignant when you go to it. Funny the timing that you have sometimes... My brother just emailed me for the first time in a couple of years and I am not sure how to answer. I don't think I am ready to talk about it yet but as usual you have me thinking...


  33. There comes a time in our life when we have to shut out the crazy. My mother had to do this with her father and sister right after my grandmother died. She had lived with it her whole life, not substance abuse, but definitely mental. I don't blame her and support her completely. It isn't her fault, she isn't to blame for the faults of others, or for protecting herself from the crazy that they bring with them. Just like you. Anyone that judges you for what you've done just doesn't understand, and frankly doesn't deserve your time.

  34. I don't think I can comment, even though I am supposed to show up her and say something profound.

    It is so close to home
    for so many reasons
    and while I have read so many, many things so far tonight
    this one
    THIS one
    this one
    it's like my mama said,
    you are fiercely honest, kitch

    I don't know where else to go from here
    for fear I'll say too much
    and this is your moment
    and I am proud
    so fucking proud
    to be here in it with you
    FUCK, you're brilliant

  35. I hope this doesn't come across wrong, but I really think you should write more about this. This post was just amazing. I agree with Sarah. Fuck, you're brilliant :)

  36. What a sad story, but I don't blame your for cutting her out of your life. I would have done the same thing. It was the right thing to do for you and your family. You were very courageous to blog about this.

  37. What stunning honesty. You touch on many universal things about family: wanting to be liked, sibling loyalty, looking to an older sibling as a role model, growing gun-shy about trusting again, remembering memories too bitter to ever forget. I can relate to your story to a degree and from this, I learn that hope and expectation are two entirely different things. Thank you for sharing a deeply personal post.

  38. I'll say it too.

    Super courageous.

    And you are not cold hearted, nor do you have ice in your veins. If you're in a relationship with an addict who may also have a psychiatric diagnosis, you are the brave and blessed one who can say "enough". You've been a victim. Period. And you are strong.


  39. Thank you so much for sharing. I have a very similar story, yet I cannot tell it on my blog. I long for that as well, the bond of sisterhood that I do not have with my own sister, but I know that I have found some in dear friends.

  40. These old photos are sad to see. I can tell by looking at them just how much you wanted to have a relationship with your sister. These remind me of how my son acts toward my daughter. He is in awe of her. I see precious moments pass between them and private jokes that only they understand and it makes me smile. I'm so sorry you had to experience this garbage! If I was closer, I'd give you a great big hug...and a big, fat cupcake! Thank you for sharing this.

  41. Hi Kitch! My sister and I have a broken relationship too, albeit not as firmly broken as yours. She has believed since the day she was born that I am out to get her. That I want her to fail. Which is simply not true and I have spent a lifetime trying to convince her of that. Somedays, it's just not worth the effort. And so I am envious of Sarah and Jen and their relationship too, I wish H and I could relate the same way. This must have been difficult to write, I sure hope it was cathartic!

  42. Oh, this hit hard. I am a cautious, struggling month into my sister's exile from our family. The wound is painful and raw, and I worry it will never heal. Seeing those photos of you gazing at her -- that was me with my older sister. And it was me who suffered under the weight of my sister's anger and hatred. What can we do but love our daughters and pray that they'll love each other? I'll be sleeping with fresh tears in my eyes tonight.

  43. Witch,
    Thank you. My brother turned 30 this year, and the last time I spoke to him was when I called him for his 21st. He didn't talk to me, he mumbled. When I went to college, I left him with two abusive parents, on his own. There was no more us-against-them. It was him, alone in the fight and he lost, and I lost him. He hasn't spoken to me really since I went to college, and I've always felt like I abandoned him. Someday, when he's ready, I hope he'll contact me. I hope he knows that I had to save myself, and that I did. There's a hole in my heart, missing his witty one-liners, watching Abbott and Costello with the volume way down at midnight after we snuck out of bed on schoolnights, playing HORSE and darts for hours. Such a loss and heartache. Not a day goes by without thinking about him.

    Those pictures are amazing. *hugs*
    Love, jc

  44. Wow, you certainly have courage TKW, allowing us all into a very small and raw part of your life is a privilege. I am only sorry you have to have this relationship with your sister, I don't know why things like this happen to people.
    You are so brave, funny, kind and loving, if only your sister could wake up and smell the roses, she could see that too.

  45. Beautifully written. And this is a very sad, but also very good story. That last picture, the one of your two girls skipping on the sidewalk together, makes me smile. I'm sure that they will cherish their sisterhood and they will get to experience everything that you couldn't enjoy because of the rough relationship with your sister.

  46. I'm not too sure what to say, makes me ache inside. Brave of you to write this for the world to see.

  47. I think many of us have family members from whom we are estranged. Mine is less painful than most, an adopted aunt who grew up and abandoned the family, unless she wanted something. A sister would be harder (but then I got to be the only show on the road, me). I think you did a great job of sharing the facts and your feelings without being nasty about her. Well done.

  48. Awesome blog you do have courage. I totally relate to the not being able to let the guard down, was like that for years with dh's father, I refused to let my kids be hurt by that man, and when he died they didn't really know him because of his bad life choices.

    I hope and pray my girls have a bond as well, I see things in day to day that makes me think they are getting there, of course the age difference is hard I think they will be great firends in life as well as sisters.

  49. You fill me with hope and courage, TKW. I know how hard it was for you to share this, and yet you did it anyway, with honesty and grace. Your words reached me deeply, and I'm sure many others who have been broken by the people they've loved the most.

    And those photos...they make my heart ache.

  50. Wow. I think that may have been your best piece yet. It was beautifully written. You are so courageous in sharing those thoughts and feelings with us. I have a sister also. Sisters can be your saving grace and your anchor to carry-all at the same time. It's such a complex relationship. Your last two lines are just perfect. I feel the same way about my girls. I hope and pray that they will cherish each other and be close. But having a sister of my own, I know it can go either way in a heartbeat. I am sorry that your family has struggled with this for so many years. All you can do is be there for your parents, which being a mama's girl, I know you are.

  51. I admire the strength you have to shelter your girls. I have two sisters, one I am very close to and one who I am not.

    As far as I'm concerned, she can treat me like crap, the second she involved my daughter, killed any feeling I had to reconcile.

  52. First of all those photos? Can't stand it. The way you're looking at her. Wow. You showed a lot of courage by writing this piece and by standing up for your girls. They don't need their hearts broken and they don't need to know that world exists right now. Bravo to you.

  53. OMGosh, our sisters should be related to each other You've described my older sister (by six years) almost to a tee. The only difference is that mine hasn't been in rehab. Somehow she can manage her sober periods on her own.

    Bravo for telling your story. That does take courage. Your daughters will know that courage and grow from it.

  54. TKW, I too was a younger, unexpected and unwanted sister. There are pictures of my brother and sister barely holding onto me out of demand by my parents for a fmaily photo, not because they wanted to. My sister was 10 years my senior and I often heard how she had to quit sports or limit her social life to babysit me. Luckily, she outgrew her frustration of my arrival but it is only now, 34 years later that we are REALLY forging a relationship. Sibling relationships are difficult but add in abuse and they can be unfathomable. Thank you for speaking your truth and owning your decision. You have control and deserve the control over what is right for you and your family. Thank you for yet again for an amazing post.

  55. you are not wrong.

    YOU ARE NOT. Please believe it. You are not cold or heartless or a coward.

    you are strong and you are protecting and that's GOOD. I do believe that addiction is a disease, and some people just.can't.stop. BUT that doesn't mean that you have to lie down on the tracks and ask for the train to run you over again and again, you know? You can't. Your girls can't. People shouldn't.

    Peace to you, friend.

  56. Wow, this is a deep and thoughtful piece...thanks for being so honest and opening up on the can't have been easy... I can't imagine how all this must have been for you... It is funny, as I read the beginning, not knowing what was coming, I thought of myself, as the oldest sibbling and the resentment I felt when my younger brother and sister (twins) came along. It took a while to digest all of that and there was a lot of rivalry and squabbling but I never took it to the level your sister did...but it sounds like there were other issues there with her and not just that. Sounds like she is very insecure deep down...and growing up she never really learnt how to handle or deal with those feelings. It is very sad that things turned out this way for you...maybe one day in the future... but I see what you some point you may feel the need to address it further, for your own conscience if anything but for sounds like you are doing what is best. Hang in there...and I think it is great how you encourage your daughters' own budding relationship... xxx

  57. I'm not much of a cryer, not anymore. But this one cut to the quick and I got a little teary. That you can look back on that childhood and still even regret that your relationship with you sister is what it is, speaks volumes about you. You deserved better. You still deserve better. I'm so sorry.

  58. This was riveting, fantastic, stuff of memoirs.

    I, too, am/was "the cautious brown moth."

    When will you be published. These would be astounding memoirs.

  59. I think this may be the most courageous thing I've ever read. Even given the circumstances, I can see how you probably feel terrible that you just can't trust your sister. I struggle with trusting my sister, also--my husband is always asking me why I don't just write her off--but it's not easy, is it? I am sad that you couldn't ever have the relationship you wanted with your sister, but it took a lot of guts to realize that the effort wasn't worth it. Thank you for sharing.

  60. Wow, you really exposed some very raw feelings in this post. I actually had tears come to my eyes.

    While my sister and I never had much of a relationship (we are like night and day) I was the one who was the bully to her.

    This post makes me wonder how my sister sees me.

  61. I agree with Sarah@Momalom.
    You made the right choice for yourself and your family. You are a strong, wonderful woman who deserves great friends and family in her life. And you are a creative goddess. Brilliant and beautiful inside and out. And those photos of you are very erie girl. Wow. Of course you looked up to unfair that she didn't deserve it and no one knew.

  62. About two years ago, I got to the point where I got tired of putting on another personality in order to get my brother to like me. Soon after I asked him to stop drinking. He went to rehab. I'm not sure it worked. I just don't ask.

    What really hit home with me about your story is the idea of trust. I think I can invest just about anything into a relationship built upon trust. Without it, nothing ever feels quite real, honest, or true.

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I hope your daughters are indeed bound by gold.

  63. This is amazing. I can't believe you put it out there like this. Naked and BRAVE. And so sad.

    Love and hate are really close emotions. I doubt your sister hates you. She's just sick.

    I can't believe in this one little piece you could tell such a complete story. You are amazing. I am speechless. Overwhelmed really.

    I applaud your bravery. And wonder if you ever saw "Rachel Getting Married?" A must see for you.

  64. Astonishingly beautiful. It's been awhile since I've teared up reading a blog. Those pictures... I was born on my sister's 6th birthday and she was NOT happy, but like you said, most sibs get over it, and she did. I can't imagine my life without my sister.

    Addiction is a total asshole, and I don't blame you one bit for protecting your children from it - even at the expense of any relationship with your sister.

    I am so, so sad thinking of your little-girl self. Thank you for sharing. An amazing piece of writing, as truth usually is.

    Thanks so muh for visiting my blog..

  65. Wow. I can't imagine how much courage it took to write this post. Thank you for being so honest and exposing a piece of yourself.

  66. I don't think you're hard hearted, or paranoid. You've been conditioned - among other things. And also, you know what you know.

    It takes courage to admit that those we love may be toxic, even when they are blood relations.

    And this was, indeed, a brave post.

  67. This post pulled me in like a great novel. This story deserves a place in a book. It's that rich, that worthy, that true. And oh so resonant. Of all the posts I've read these last two days, your story seems to me the truest picture of courage. And I don't mean your willingness to share it, although that us certainly courageous, too. I mean your decision to put a fence between you and your sister. I hope - pray! - that it won't always be there, but for now it has to be. Bravo for your bravery. So glad you visited me!! Will definitely be back. xo

  68. Wonderful, wonderful post. I've watched a close friend make a similar decision and it takes an enormous amount of courage to say, "Enough." You had to be wise beyond your years, even when you should not have been expected to be wise at all. It's a huge burden, and not one you need to expose your kids to. I'm sorry you've had to carry this weight your entire life; hopefully making the tough choice to stop playing the game has given you some freedom. Thank you for sharing your story!

  69. Okay. This is the most raw honest compelling post I have read in a LONG time. I am hooked on you if this is your voice. So real. So straightforward. The pictures you posted are killing me. I have tears in my eyes. Both as a sister and a mother. To see that little girl of you looking at your older sister....

    I am an older sister. Not with the issues that your sister has but I have a younger sister (8 years younger) who I think has always looked at me the way you were looking at your sister. For some reason she has always felt in my shadow. I have NEVER felt that way. That's what interesting about sisters sometimes. And personalities.

    It breaks my heart that you mourn the sister relationship you never had....but look at the sisterhood around you! Right? You have created such a bond with like-minded women who support you and applaud your act of courage and your words. There are sisters everywhere I think....

    I am so glad you stopped by my scene and yeah to Momalom for letting me find you!!


  70. Hard-hearted? Paranoid? NO. You are none of those negative things. You are brave and strong and so powerful because you listen to your gut and do what's right for you. I applaud you. I'm clapping right now for you and your courage--it takes finesse and strength to share the rocky, hard bits in our life. And you just rocked it. Bravo.

  71. (((((TKW))))) This is heartbreaking but you are brave and lovely, and I hope you know that.

    I am sad for you. And I am sad that your sister didn't allow herself to know YOU.

    Because you are amazing.

  72. So, as usual, last night's comment is cruising around in cyberspace somewhere. What's up with that?

    But I want you to know that I was totally blown away by this post. Yes, you are fiercely honest. And a beautiful writer. And it is your moment, not mine, as Sarah says. But really, Kitch, this was the most amazing post ever. I am so proud of you. Really. And wish you were here for a good, long hug. We just won't talk about the tears part.

  73. I don't know what to say. I just hope writing this helps with your pain. There were times that my sisters and I didn't get along, I was the middle sister(3 yrs older and 3 yrs younger)and always felt picked on. My older sister was the wild one and didn't feel like she belonged. I always had my little sis, where we would never tell on her when she had boys over, and drank dads booze filling up what they drank, all while she was babysitting us. But she out grew it and became almost extreme the other way pushing us away and just thinking about her kids. Then last year after 50 years she found out that she's really our half sister and what a shock that dad is not her biological dad. So more drama....and I don't know why I went there. I know how crazy families can make us, and I don't think any less of you, I am proud of you, you did what you could that was best for you. I am glad to know this about you, I was wondering about it when you commented on a post of me and my sister. Thanks!

    I didn't read through this before I posted so I hope it makes sense. :D

  74. This is such a powerfully sad and courageous story - and the photographs are almost as revelatory as your writing. You've lived this and told it bravely.
    Sisterhood can be incredible - the BFFest of relationships. But it can also be toxic, painful, heartbreaking. My first memory of my sister - my just-younger sister- is of her pushing me down the stairs. Our troubles have always been emotional and competitive, and we work on it - but it takes two. I admire your courage in confronting that and knowing that you can't live for your sister.

  75. You are incredibly brave to share such a heart wrenching story. You stopped the cylce of enabling her. That took extreme courage. Your first alliance is to your daughters, and you are protecting them. That takes courage. Trust takes courage as well, but when it's broken so many times there comes a point that you are just done! I totally understand. I applaud you for having the courage to tell your story.

  76. I wish I could give you a hug. It so brave of you to share this. It's so brave of you to hild the line between your sister and your kids. You're amazing, and I wish you didn't have to deal with this. I hope your sis gets better one day. Thank you for sharing,

  77. Everyone already said it, so all that's left for me is... (((HUG)))

  78. Hey KW, This is a staggering post of illuminated love, honesty, pain and transformation. I'm thrilled that you found the courage to write it, and I'm also moved by the voices of community all around you that so clearly stand with you.

    To me this brought another level of resonance to your moniker. Your willingness to be the witch (good witch that you are) makes me think of Dorothy tossing water on that wicked one, melting her to nothing with the power of the feminine element, of compassion. That is when Dorothy gets the broom, symbol of masculine power—like she, you had to own your power to become your own person.

    Only you go one better than Dorothy as you clearly already know that you are home within yourself. Your kids are blessed to have you (as are we readers).

    p.s. I love brown moths.

  79. Whoa. I'm so glad to finally have the impetus to stop by and linger at your blog (though have been following you via our mutual friend Lindsey for some time!) I'm not sure I can say anything more eloquent than any of your many many commentors -- clearly you have struck a nerve with us all.
    I have three sisters. The relationships are so complex with the potential to be so wonderful and yet, because we are women, we are jealous and we sometimes hang on that precipice. As the oldest, I fear I was a horrible, horrible sister for many years to the middle sister. We have a great relationship now, but I became aware of the point of no return -- the one that you capture with your amazing words and (stunningly, brutally honest) pictures.

  80. You are brave, Kitch. Not just for writing these words (although that took courage too), but for standing up to your sister. For trying to help someone who had caused you endless pain. For putting yourself in a vulnerable place. And for protecting your family from the pain you've suffered. You are brave, for these and many other reasons.

  81. What a beautifully honest post. And the photos were so telling and heart-breaking.

    Good for you for standing up to your sister and focusing on your own family and their emotional security.

  82. Damn.

    That's a gutsy, honest, self aware, heart wrenching tale you have there, spanning three generations and years of pain.

    Damn, damn, double damn.

    Huge hugs, TKW.

  83. I dont think there's much i can say that hasn't alreayd been said. I love this post. It was riveting. And the pictures???? Those really hit it home. It's so fascinating/uncomfortable to look back and see our biggest insecurities staring us in the face. (Today my mom gave me a poem I wrote in sixth grade that she found in a drawer. it was called "Almost perfect" and something ridiculous about getting a 99 on a test being almost perfect, but not god enough. Um, hello?? School psychiatrist much??? No wonder I have so many issues. I cringe just thinking about it).

    But seriously, loved this. Such a well-told story, I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen. Thanks for sharing.

  84. Courage. This post is FULL of it. Because you wrote it, because you lived it then, and because of how you deal with the situation now. I'm not sure if you know how just how strong you are, but I'm pretty sure your daughters do. And if they don't know, they sure will soon enough.

    (Not to mention, the actual writing of this post? Phenomenal.)

  85. Dear Wonderful, Kind, Thoughtful, Compassionate Readers,

    Thank you so much for your love and your feedback and prayers and...everything.

    I'm feeling a little raw these past few days and might be a bit scarce, but I want you to know how much your comments and support have meant to me.

    Thank you for understanding that it was time to address the Elephant in the Room. I feel so many things, but most of all, relief.

    Thank you for being who you are.

  86. I am sorry I am late on this comment, Kitch. I actually read this yesterday and sat down to comment, and then didn't have time. Your post was amazing. I am in awe of your story itself, the pain it must have caused. I am in awe of how incredibly well you wrote it. I am in awe of those pictures...they are most definitely eerie evidence of how you lived alongside your sister. And although I applaud your courage for talking about something that is so difficult, I am in even more awe of the courage required to walk away from a relationship like that, to be courageous enough to NOT allow your children to be influenced or hurt further, to be able to say "I've had enough." I am not real big on the whole "blood is thicker than water" deal...I don't think anyone deserves more from someone else simply because they are related. I do not believe that someone who is "my family" must be, should be in my life. Yes, we are born into a particular family. Yes, it would be lovely if we could all be close and grow up sharing those kinds of bonds. But if someone is not deserving of that kind of love, then he/she is not getting it simply because he/she is blood. I have friends I love more than family members, friends who have earned the right and privilege to be part of "my true family." I applaud you for being strong enough to say that at this point in your life, you don't feel that you need to, or should, reconnect. I am sure if the time ever comes that you do want to, then you will have the courage to do that, as well.

  87. This was amazing! You are a wonderful writer and your ability to make me understand and feel your pain is unbelieveable.

    I also do not have that sister bond, maybe we could become sisters! It would be fun.

    You are such an amazing person I am so glad to have you in my life!

  88. Courage = this post

    I salute you, Warrior Princess. You are one fierce Mama bear and GOD those girls are lucky to have you (so am I)

  89. Most of the time I smile when I read your posts. Many times I giggle out loud. But not today. Your courage in sharing this story speaks volumes about who you are today. I can feel the desperation of a little sister wanting so to be liked by her big sister. As the oldest, it has made me wonder if I affected my little sister in ways that were not positive. I hope not. As a mom of two daughters, I'm thankful they are Not always so. Your story is raw, and honest, and heart wrenching. Your stand today is one of courage, and completely understandable from a mamma bear perspective. Today we all saw another side of you. It is beautiful.

  90. Hard-hearted, paranoid, unbending--not in the least. You are sore and worn, and you've cared too much about someone who now needs to care about herself. It's never a bad thing to say you won't allow another person to take you down, to rub the skin off of you emotionally, never. It's hard, and it feels cold, but there comes a time we all have to help ourselves. Yours came. I hope hers does, too.

  91. I have a similar relationship with my sister in that she was the more socially vibrant of us two and also the more self destructive. She still is. I struggle on a daily basis with how much to engage with her and her life. Like you, I don't know what to trust. She can be so fun, so engaging... and yet a step into her world means getting sucked into manipulation, lies. It costs time, energy, money. I don't always know how and when I've given enough. She is my sister, afterall. But at some point, all that's given isn't benefitting anyone-- including her.

  92. It took courage to write about something so painful and I applaud you. I also applaud you for standing by your convictions regarding your sister, because it just isn't about you and her anymore, you have to protect you children...and that is courageous in itself.