When Toni Braxton told her family, that if they weren’t her family, she wouldn’t deal with any of them, I knew exactly what she meant. I have five sisters and if four of them weren’t my sisters I would have cut them off a long time ago. Even having all these sisters, I’m only close with one and we didn’t even grow up in the same house together every day. I love this sister. She is the one that I call when I’m having a bad day or when I need advice. We are also closer in age and identify with each other the most. Our values are quite the same. If something happened to me, or my husband, she is the one, along with my best friend that I would trust to raise my kids as I would’ve. When I would go to my dad’s house for the weekend as a kid, he would drill in our heads that we were a team and if someone messed with one then they messed with the both of us. I was my sister’s keeper and she was mine, always. We still feel the same about each other to this day and we are in our thirties.
But in mother’s house, I was made to help raise my younger siblings and take care of them when my mother and stepfather weren’t around. I didn’t mind and I tried to teach the same lessons that my dad taught me for my other sisters. It didn’t work. I think that this is mostly because of my stepfather. I wasn’t his kid and I didn’t want to be. He wasn’t the type of man that I thought my mother should be with, and she wanted to make him happy. So, I was treated differently than everyone else. This is probably why the relationship with my sisters is so strained. I think that they were taught to think of me as someone who had to do for them. Not ever realizing that everything I did was out of love. As time went on and we all grew up, I could feel the difference in our relationships.
It was a competition that I didn’t even know I was competing in. If I had good news, then someone had to have better news. I was forced to be in the shadows of this family, and it hurt. I know that I am the black sheep of the family. I have never in my life felt protected by this set of siblings. I wasn’t even allowed, in their eyes to have normal human emotions to situations that most folks would never find themselves in.
I know that I haven’t been perfect in these relationships. One of my biggest flaws is that I tried to baby them all so much, and I never really looked at them as my equals. I had to protect them, because that was my job. I was meant to shield them from all of life’s heartaches and struggles.
But my biggest flaw was not realizing that I wasn’t valued or respected. What I did was expected. They thought of it as something that I had to do, because that is what their parents taught them. I was supposed to be there whenever they called, and what I had was automatically supposed to be theirs too. I was treated as less than a person.
Not all sisterly relationships are great. Not all are filled with lunch dates and spa treatments. Sometimes a sister isn’t an automatic best friend. Sometimes sisters can be natural enemies and there is nothing that can be done to repair the relationship, as much as you may try. I had to come to that realization that I will never be close with some of my siblings, even though I had really hoped that we would be. I had also envisioned big trips with all my siblings and everyone getting along. That will always be a long forgotten dream.
My relationship with my sisters is filled with talking behind my back, secrets being kept that could impact my life, and wishing for my downfall. Questions are strategically asked in ways that will get back to me so that I know that I’m not part of their team. I’m not in their club.
Even though it hurts, I remind myself that I have built my own sisterhood and it is the way that I envisioned sisterhoods to go. We cheer each other on and celebrate each other’s victories as if they are our own personal ones. We laugh with each other and cry with each other. We hold each other accountable and we always let the other person know exactly how we feel. We genuinely want to see each other succeed.
And for my other sisters. I still want to see them succeed. I want them to have the best lives possible and to do all the things that they ever dream. Unfortunately, we can’t be around each other and see it happen, because some things are better left broken.