Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sister, Sister

My sister and I used to be thick as thieves. We did virtually everything together. I think a shift started when I went away to college (maybe a little before then). There are things I wish that I would have done a little differently so that we could continue to have a strong relationship but hindsight is 20/20 right?

I must admit that I can be am a little overbearing at times as a big sister. I definitely feel like sometimes I know what is best for my sister, I mean after all I did go to college and have been around for a few struggles, but I guess the reality is, no one wants to listen to anyone be a nag. Everyone has to find themselves at their own pace.

So last year, I made the tough choice to let my sister venture off on her own after she had lived with me and my family for a while. No nagging-- a little suggesting (but way scaled down). She has definitely had her own struggles and there have been plenty of times when I wanted to step in and save the day but I have simply watched and only commented or helped when she has asked--which was hardly ever...ouch. Now we are kind of back in the same struggling position again and it stinks. How long does this growing process take?!? I guess I have too many fabulous friends that have set the bar super high that I have a low tolerance for/can't understand when a person is so stuck that they are almost paralyzed. We all vent but the woman I know move on.

Throughout all of this I have learned that we are two different people...I mean we are really different. But different doesn't have to mean bad. My way isn't always the best way for her.

In the book, It's a Wonderful Imperfect Life: Daily Encouragement for Women Who Strive Too Hard by Joan C. Webb says "our dreams, plans, and choices don't have to be perfect to be fulfilling and God-honoring." I am going to go ahead and say I am a perfectionist, a doer. If something needs to be done, I try to do it right away. There are lessons to be taught, resources to be found, careers to be built--right now so why wait or drag your feet? That is largely why I am becoming a therapist. We all get down and have challenges but time waits for no man and I pray that this stuck phase leaves my sister swiftly and we can experience healing in our relationship.

How do you all handle sibling relationships? Is it a challenge for most people to move from childhood relationships to adult ones with siblings? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Here is another great blog about nurturing sisterly relationships from two of my favorite sisters Tia and Tamera:

Sister 2 Sister: How Do We Stay Close?

Recently, I got a message from site member Toya asking how to rebuild a relationship with her sister, who had just gotten into a new relationship and seemed to be drifting away from her. Toya (and all my other lovely sisters out there) – I know how scary it is to feel like you are growing apart from your sister, especially if you used to be super close. Tamera and I have been there for each other through thick and thin, and she is one of the closest people to me in the whole wide world, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t struggle with our relationship as we went through different life changes through the years. When you start having a family, a career, a husband or even just start living in different places, it’s so easy for siblings to start drifting apart. However, there are certain things we’ve done that have helped us keep up our bond, and I think they have made a huge different in our relationship. I want all my amazing sisters out there to have the best relationship possible with their sissies too, so I’m sharing the tips and lessons I’ve learned over the years below.

1. Make Your Relationship a Priority

I know this may be easier said than done, but if you really want to maintain a strong relationship with your sister or sibling, it’s important that you are actively making it a priority. That means being proactive and scheduling dates to see each other or talk on the phone and putting your time with them above other things that you might rather do at the moment. Believe me, nothing beats quality one-on-one time. Tamera and I have made our relationship a priority in our lives, and we always make room for priorities!

2. Communicate – As Often As Possible

Tamera and I are guilty of abusing pretty much every line of communication with each other – we text, tweet, email, call…sometimes all within one day! Even retweeting each other’s tweets or sending a short five-word text makes a huge difference. Most importantly, it keeps us a part of each other’s daily lives – which is so important, especially if you don’t live close to each other. Don’t wait for something “big” to happen before including your sister in your life – text her a photo of a cute dress that reminded you of her when you were shopping today, or call her and tell her about the cute guy who just started working at your office. It’s the little things that will keep you close and your bond strong!

3. Respect Each Other’s Differences

I know I’ve been giving out a lot of advice, but that doesn’t mean Tamera and I always have a perfect relationship. Do we fight? Yes! Do we disagree? Hell yeah! Buuuuut (and this is a very important “but”) – in the end, no matter how much we disagree or pull each other’s hair (kidding!!), we do one very important thing: we respect each other’s differences. Which is way easier said than done. Sometimes it just seemed like we were on two completely different pages, and both of us thought we were right. We’ve taken therapy to help us with our communication issues, and through therapy we’ve learned how each of us loves and what we need from the other person: Tamera needs affirmation, and I need presence. Having an outside perspective really helped us realize that the best thing we can possibly do for each other is to embrace the fact that we are two different people - often with two totally different opinions - but that’s exactly what makes our relationship (and every relationship!) so unique and special.

4. Forgive, forgive, forgive

Last but not least, forgiveness is key! I think life is way too short to hold a grudge against someone, especially your sister – it just makes you an angry person and does nothing but poison your relationship. Tamera and I try to make it a goal to never go to bed upset or angry at each other – we always try to clear things up or just forgive and forget before the sun sets. Unfinished business is dangerous and leaves room for assumptions…usually ones that are completely misguided and wrong!

Sisters – how do you keep up your relationship with your sister or other siblings? What have you done that has helped keep you close over the years?


1 comment:

  1. Barb, I definitely find it hard to see my siblings as adults and not just children - ESP my little sister. I think it took my younger brother a long time to see me as the older mature sister that life's him and doesn't want to be mean (like I was when we were younger) sometimes it's hard for me to think about myself during teenage years to be honest. I am sleepy but had to write in because I'm so happy that you got this dialogue going! Love ya girl! Great post