April 24, 2015

Why I Don’t Talk to My Sister

There may be many people back home wondering why I don’t talk to my sister any more, especially after she did such a great job looking after my Mum during my Mum’s final months. There may also be many people hearing that my sister isn’t speaking to me, when in fact the opposite is true.

Given my distance and lack of contact to people ‘on the ground’, I thought I’d put my side over. I’m not back home. It’s not fair that people will only be getting one side of the story. Also, what happened immediately prior to the funeral bothered me greatly, and I don’t think that’s fair either. I should have been mourning the passing of my own mother and, solely,  processing those emotions; not having to deal with my sister’s anger, uptightness, control-angst, hubris, misplaced sense of superiority, delusion, snootiness, snobbery, ego problems and hissy fits. But then, what did I expect?

A little background on our relationship.

One of my earliest memories of my sister is when we were maybe 5 or 6 years old.

There are only four years between all of us, my brother, sister and I. If I was six, my sister would have been four and my brother eight. I think I was maybe 6 years old and the three of us were playing in the kitchen, and my brother spilled a pint of milk and broke the glass bottle on the floor. My Dad heard this, and came in, a little annoyed. My Dad asked who did it, and despite my sister knowing and seeing who did it, pointed at me and said “Paul!” and despite six-year-old me pleading with my Dad and my sister, she stuck to the story and I was sent to my room or whatever. A small, seemingly trivial story, but, honestly, a foreshadowing of a lifetime of spiteful lies and weirdness.

Fast forward another few years, and us three, my brother sister and I, and some cousins, are playing on a slide, there was some horseplay at the top, and my sister fell off and broke her arm. I can still remember seeing her fall, spinning as she fell – it seemed to take forever for her to hit the ground, even though it was only around 15 feet.

I was 2 or three people behind her on the steps, but on returning home, and despite the pain of a broken arm, she was still able to summon the discipline to look everyone in the eye and tell them I’d pushed her off. A lie she carried on despite my protestations, and despite everyone there confirming it was an accident I was not, and could not, have been involved in. I don’t think she ever changed her story. I imagine she’s still disappointed the lie didn’t work.

Fast forward yet another few years and my Mum had allowed me to have a 21st birthday party at our house. Long story short – my sister pushed me (she’d do this crazy attack thing where she’d run at me backwards). I pushed her gently away, with a heavy emphasis on gently. She swooned and swaggered, looked over her shoulder, swooned again, and proceeded to throw herself down a full flight of stairs, backwards, risking, literally, her own neck. She would have been around 19 at the time. Luckily for me a host of people had seen her do this and, after establishing she hadn’t actually hurt herself, everyone just laughed at her. Again, she’s never admitted this, nor apologized. She probably denies it even happened despite all the witnesses.

I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s still telling people these kinds of lies today. “He pushed me down the stairs once… he broke my arm …he did this and that….”etc.

What did she say when I went to university as a mature student? “Well done Paul”? No. She screamed at me, through angry tears, “You’re only going because I went!!’ revealing some of her underlying psychosis. She cannot stand it if either myself or my brother ‘do well’ at anything. She thinks we’re just trying to beat her, stop her, compete with her – this competition exists in one place – within her psychosis. p.s. I've completed a Masters degree since. Not so much as a 'well done'.

It may seem, and this is very important, that I’m just dragging up small sibling rivalries from the past and holding a grudge, but the only grudges I’m holding are direct and dishonest attempts to discredit me – lifelong attempts, by my own sister! It may seem like trivial sibling stuff,  but I don’t know of any other sibling relationships where one has such a black-hearted opinion of the other they are willing to risk everything just to lie. It’s not healthy, and it’s not normal.

Dad’s Funeral

Before my Mother’s funeral in 2013, was my Dad’s funeral way back when we were kids in 1979. I’ve always deeply regretted, if that’s the right word, not being allowed to go as an 11 year old. It’s come up in conversation a few times over the years, and I know my brother feels the same – we are hurt that we didn’t get to say our final goodbyes at the actual funeral. The decision was made by older family members, so that us kids should remember our Dad how he was. I understand their motives – but I didn’t get to go to my own father’s funeral, and I’m still sad about that. I feel this is the worst decision anyone has ever made on my behalf, and I talked about it with my Mum and family more than once. She understood and was somewhat apologetic, but I didn’t blame her, it seems to be something of a family tradition on my Dad’s side. Anyway, my point is that this is a big issue for me and my brother, and so not to involve us, and not to do things in the traditional time-honoured way at my Mum’s funeral was, frankly, disgusting and thoughtless (towards us, her brothers) on my sister’s part. She says we should have been more involved ‘near the end’. I don’t know what more we could have done. We’re neither of us rich, my brother and I, and he lives 150 miles away, and I live on a different continent.

Mum’s Funeral

This is where the hissy fits kicked in…

My sister had arranged the entire funeral herself without consultation with either of her brothers. Honestly, who does that? Someone who a) knows it’s wrong and b) doesn’t care.

The service and everything else was to be in Harpenden where my sister lived, 150 miles from Mum’s hometown, 150 miles from where all Mum’s family lived, and 150 miles from everything. Now, my sister had convinced my Mum to move down to Harpenden in around 2007/8, and help my sister look after my sister’s two kids. My sister helped my Mum buy a house down there. My Mum was happy there. That’s no reason for the funeral to be there. She wasn’t to be buried there, and Mum’s whole family lived in and around Hull. The main reason that a Hull-based funeral was not to be, is that my snooty sister didn’t want her middle class husband’s family to have to travel to Hull (a very working class town)! So after we complained that the funeral service should be in Hull – she relented and agreed, but arranged a separate service in for the posher lot! In Harpenden. We weren’t invited. I’ve no idea what happened at it. Bar her husband, NONE of my sister’s husband’s family attended the Hull service. They had their own!

My brother asked where the (Hull) funeral procession should be leaving from? His house? Somewhere else? – my sister forbid any procession, and we were all to meet at the crematorium in Hull. Her reason, my working class, Hull born, dead mother, and I quote ‘would have been mortified to leave from there’. ‘There’ being Stephen, the eldest’s, house. Pure snobbery. No, my Mum wouldn’t, she used to stay there often. I think we know who would have been ‘mortified’.

I have no idea what’s on my own Mother’s gravestone. I was neither asked, nor told. I don’t even know what colour it is.

I don’t know when the ashes were taken up there to Scotland to be next to my father. My sister took care of all that. No consultation, no information, nothing. She just did it herself. We, other family members, weren’t invited.

So we didn’t get to take the last trip, with our own mother, because of my sister’s snobbery, and after all that happened over my Dad’s, which I’m sure she’s known about over the years. She arranged her own separate service. She didn’t consult me and as far as I know anyone else as to what to put on the gravestone. She didn’t invite me or anyone I know on the final journey. Oh, and she kept all of my mother’s belongings. Everything. Every photo album, every….everything. Were we asked? What do you think? Not that I care about having anything of material value you understand – I’ve never been a materialistic person, a fact that is well known throughout our family. But I would have liked to look through my Mum’s (and that’s the point – it’s MY MUM TOO), I would have liked to look through my Mum’s stuff one last time – and maybe take a keepsake, a photograph, a memento – perhaps even something that I’d bought her over the years. I wasn’t allowed of course! My mum’s old room at my sister’s house, where she moved into when her cancer developed, was cleared out and empty, with nary an explanation as to where my mother’s entire life went, or what was to happen with her stuff.

Despite what she may think, and have tried to alter over the years, our mother, and our father, loved all of us.

And that’s just a little background. Now. I’ve made some bad decisions in my life. There are stories you could tell about me that are true. Fighting. Car crashes. Drunken behavior. I once had a party at my Mum’s WITHOUT my mother’s permission, for example, and the place took quite a bit of damage. So I’ve no idea why someone would need a load of lies to make it worse. She’s really had a weird view of me, ever since she was old enough to realize she had to share her parents. I’ve never understood it. I doubt I ever will. It’s a pure undiluted hatred of her siblings, not borne out of any action (and heaven knows there’s enough of it) but pure undiluted jealousy and loathing borne of something, and I doubt I’ll ever know what. Being the youngest? Being female? Not being an only child? Feeling she is better than her two brothers? All of these things? Who knows? But you don’t have to scratch far beneath the surface for this hatred to come spitting out. Even at our own mother’s funeral (or at least the arranging of it) hissy fits were thrown. “you’ve done nothing to deserve any say it what goes on”, “I never want to see you again after this” and so on.  She threw tantrum after tantrum when she wasn’t getting her own way. A civilized discussion became impossible when she knew all the arrangements she’d made behind everyone’s back may have to be changed.

And this is the over-arching point. My younger sister, out of nothing but pure spite, excluded her two older brothers out of arranging or having any say in their mother’s funeral because SHE didn’t feel they’d deserved to have anything to do with it. She used, one last time, our own mother’s funeral as a stick to beat us with. She used our mother’s funeral as a weapon, to cause us pain. An unmerited and disgusting act of revenge.

Having to deal with a foot-stomping sister who wasn’t getting her own way (but of course did) meant that I bottled up the emotions I should have been feeling at the funeral, and had to deal with my disgust and anger at her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she meant for that to happen.

Sister, you were great looking after our mother, and you’re a great mother yourself, but you have, throughout your entire life, been a hateful, spiteful, cunning lying bitch to me.

And that’s why I don’t talk to my sister.