Sibling Rivalry, by Deirdre "Dee" McCall

Do you remember back when we were kids? Some days, I remember it like it was yesterday and some days I try really hard to forget. Life wasn’t so good back then, and yet, we both had it so much better than most, at least, most of the people we knew.

I know you never understood why I was so unhappy. You were the cheerful one, always with a smile and those blue eyes. Mom even said recently that you were one the boys always made comments about. See, they made comments about me too, but I guess she never saw that. You were tiny and cute and I was a big girl, tall for my age with big breasts and a full figure. I was never fat, but it sure seemed Mom thought I was. Oh, yeah, the men looked at me too. I guess Mom forgot that. Seems she forgets a lot of things, perhaps conveniently.

I was Daddy’s little girl until you came along, when I was three years old. Suddenly, I ceased to exist. This isn’t something from my own imagination, but rather something even our mostly unobservant mother will confess to being true. As if that wasn’t enough, our parents constantly found ways to pit us against each other, competitively, in their misguided efforts to get us both to be ‘good’ children. I will never forget all the ‘contests’ about who could get their room cleaner, and how, no matter how hard I tried or how good my room was cleaned, I never did earn that $5 prize—not once, not even one time to try to keep me motivated. So I quit trying.

Then, later on in life, to continue the pattern of you taking men away from me, you proceeded to hit on and date or sleep with just about every boyfriend I ever had, and you even screwed around with my best friend, who happened to be a guy. What? The skinny body, blue eyes and mountains of wavy hair weren’t enough for you to find your own men so you had to find mine? Or maybe it was because the men I picked had more substance than the shallow men you found while gold digging. You never wanted a partner; you only wanted someone to take care of you.

I, on the other hand, set out on my own to make it in this world and I finished school and found someone to share my life with. You slept with him too, though I didn’t find out about this until much later down the road.

Then came the secrets, sharing information that was only partly true with our father to get him on your side, telling lies to our mother, about things you had no clue what reality was. They believed you, confronted me, and left me out in the cold. Even then, it wasn’t me I worried about the most, but rather, my children and how they lost both of their grandparents because of the way you tried to pit our parents against me. I have two kids now and I love them both dearly and I raised them with that love. I know for a fact that a parent’s heart is big enough to love more than one child. Why did you feel it had to be all or nothing? Why were you so scared our parents would reject you if they happened to love me too? Isn’t it possible there’s enough love in the world for us both, for us all?

But no, you never understood why I was so sad all the time, and you and Mom and Dad sat around talking about me as though there was something wrong with me, “What should we do about Dee? How should we handle Dee?” There was nothing wrong with me. I was just different then the three of you, but I’ve learned over the years, different doesn’t mean worse or better. It just means different.

It took me years to get to where I am now, to where I’m all right with who I am and how the world has formed around me. You are sinking, fast. With an abusive relationship and recent divorce behind you and with you being on the third boyfriend since the divorce only months ago, it’s obvious you are afraid to be alone, afraid to look at who you are. Our lives seems almost to have done a flip flop and you are not happy about it, expression envy and jealousy, of who? Of me? You never wanted to be me.

You don’t like my husband, you say, telling me he’s a real jerk, an asshole, and he has an attitude problem. Well, maybe he does. Maybe he does because of two reasons 1) I told him all about you and he loves me so that hurt him and 2) you tried to hit on him too, only, he didn’t respond like the men of my past. I’ve found a good one this time, you see. He loves me, and because of that, he doesn’t even see you.

There are two things you’ve said to me in my life that mean something to me though, two things that touch me deeply and emotionally for which I am more grateful then you know. First, you said I was a good mom and that you envy that in me, wishing you yourself had been and were a better mother. I am proud of and take pride in being a good mom, so that meant a lot to me. Second is that you told me, once you were in a position to need help from Mom and Dad like I had once needed, you told me you understood why I had felt the way I had all these years.

Being understood, finally, after so many years of you all wondering what was wrong with me, well, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I needed to hear that.

So I write this to you, knowing we will never be the type of sisters who share those warm International Foods Coffee moments and reveal our secrets and actually be friends… and because of that, it’s unlikely I’ll ever say this to you, any of it, but I wanted you to know… regardless of anything else, you’re my sister, my family, and though things have been strained, when it’s matter the most, you’ve done what you were capable of doing, and for that, I thank you.

I’m done being jealous of you. I’m done feeling regret and remorse for things I can’t change. I’m forgiving you, at least, in my own heart, even if I can’t ever actually tell you that I’m forgiving you without explaining why.

Mostly, I just needed to get it out, to put words to the emotions: I was so angry with you, but now I’m not. I held grudges before, and now I don’t. I forgive you.

Here’s hoping the future is much brighter than the past. I look forward maybe to getting to know who you are now, and perhaps being a better sister to you in your time of need than you were to me in mine.

I love you,
DeeDee is a fre-spirited dreamer who never could quite follow the straight and narrow path, or any path for that matter, other than one of her own making. While this often made her the odd sheep in the family, she has experience more, lived more and dreamed more than any one woman has a right, and though there’s much she wouldn’t want to repeat, she doesn’t regret a single moment.

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4 Responses to “Sibling Rivalry, by Deirdre "Dee" McCall”

  1. Kathy says:

    This is a wonderful letter. My sister and I have some similar feeelings between us and I know how hard it is to live like that, always wanting that close relationship and never getting it. It took me years to come to terms with it as well. I love the way you expressed yourself and the fact that you seem to have broken the cycle.

  2. Clarissa says:

    Wonderful letter! My sister and I have a similar relationship also. We have never been close and I have always wanted to be close to her. She has always been the smarter one, the prettier one, the most popular one. I used to be jealous of her but I’m not anymore. I love my sister and I know she loves me too but I wish we were closer. Thank you for this letter!

  3. suzanne says:

    My sister and I are not close, either. She was the elder, I the younger. She had a serious chronic illness that made her the center of my parent’s consciousness. They spent her entire childhood wrapping her up in their love, protecting her from everything, leaving me in the cold, alone. She grew up needy and dependent. I grew up strong and able, though very, very untrusting.

    My sister envies me, too. She envies the fact that I’ve been married for more than three times as long as she was to both her husbands combined. She envies the fact that I was able to develop close, loving adult relationships with both our parents.

    But the kicker? She told me — actually told me — that she envied the fact that my dad called me first to tell me when our mom died. That was the day I realized she and I might have once inhabited the same womb, but we lived in separate universes. Let it go. Your sister is to be pitied, not disliked. Forgive her, for yourself, not for her benefit. Let go of the betrayals and take care of yourself.

  4. Michele says:

    Hello DeeDee,

    I said a prayer for you for continued strength, triumph and happiness. It sounds to me like your sister was jelous of you all along. Why else would she always want whatever you have. Until she really changes, I think it’s okay to love her from a distance.

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