Monday, October 29, 2007

Okay, consider this my attempt to explain my sister's and my relationship. It's going to get fairly (and by fairly I mean exceptionally) long because our relationship is the result of 24 years worth of experiences.

First, you should know that she is my only biological sibling. I have 3 step-sisters and 1 sort of half-sister (no brothers) and her. She 2 1/2 years older than me (3 years ahead in school), oh and she's a super-bitch. Sorry, did I say that? My bad.

Growing up until our teenage years it was just the two of us, we were a little older when all the others entered the picture. We have never gotten along. From birth to high school were 18 years of terror on both our parts. We fought like crazy. She told me there was no Santa Claus when I was 6 years old, just to be mean. She chased me around the house with a butcher knife and tried to pick the lock to the bathroom when I finally got away from her in there. She stabbed me in the face with a pencil when I was 8 (in all fairness she was actually just trying to shove me off the barstool and had a pencil in her hand...) and I still have a mark. This is not to say that I didn't bite her and kick and yell and otherwise be a super pain in the ass also because I surely did, it was a give and take thing.

My freshman year of high school she drove me and our neighbor to school and one morning I was being obnoxious for some reason (probably because it's rare that I can really get under her skin and I knew I was suceeding) and she told me that if I didn't stop talking she was going to pull the car over. Well, hello? That's like an inivitation to be more obnoxious. So I talked to myself for like 20 minutes, and she pulled the car over and waited until I ran out of things to say, effectively making all of us late for school, including our neighbor in the back seat.

Something else you should know is that my sister is perfect. She is valedictorian of everything. If there was a valedictorian of grocery shopping or of working out, I'm sure she'd add those to her preschool, kindergarten, high school and Summa Cum Laude college finishes. She's perfect. She got into the number 1 physical therapy program in the country and got a scholarship (of which there is only one given). She then received not one, but two distinguishing awards when she finished there and was offered one of 2 spots available nationally for a neuro-physical therapy residency. I got rejected from her college when I applied. Ouch. She's ridiculously intelligent, has always been naturally fit and cute and basically has never failed at anything ever. We did the same sports and she always won. We both participated in music and even though she couldn't carry a tune in a wheelbarrel if forced, she still did better than me. She's perfect, and maybe I have a small complex about it.

Things for us settled some what when she moved away for college and even more so when I went away to college. We didn't see each other and when we did we had so many other things to share that fighting didn't take priority. For whatever reason, the 2000 miles between us now do not have the same effect. The real trouble began when I began dating The Fiance. The Fiance (TF) is Jewish, I was raised Catholic (but no longer participate in that specific realm of Christianty, I'm still finding my place) and she is a converted Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian, which as you can see, presents a number of problems. Just before TF and I got engaged she decided to remind me that just in case I forgot and before I signed up for a life with him, that he'd be going to hell for the fact that he's Jewish. And if I did not stop him or did not force our kids to do something different so would I and our offspring. Let me give you a second to soak that up. My sister, the keeper of the gates of hell.

Once I put my foot down and told her that I would no longer have that discussion with her (that was after I think the 3rd time we had gone at it) it was not mentioned again. But her new thing is this surgery. She's fixated on it in a way I've almost never seen her fixated before. She's doing it very much under the guise of good intentions (and I'm not saying that they're not good intentions necessarily, I just don't know if pure evil has a soul or a heart), and suddenly has taken to reminding me that I'm her "baby sister" and this is something that she's not going to stand aside and let happen. Hi, have we met? I'm 24. I'm not a child.

Essentially her issues with the surgery are 3 separate ones. First, she doesn't think I need it. We saw a doctor at her university right after it was picked up on the MRI. He was an MS specialist and once he determined that I didn't have MS, he basically gave up and said that none of my symptoms could be caused by my brain hanging down into my spinal cord. And apparently those words came directly from God because they are recited back to me regularly. So essentially, she doesn't see the point of my having the "elective" procedure when it's not going to help (or alternately, now she believes that it WILL help, but only because I've so convinced myself that it will that I will psychosomatically become healthier...).

The second part is New Orleans. I won't for an instant stand up here and pretend like I live in the Mecca of healthcare. Um, no, I'm not an idiot. But my sister is ignorant and does not believe that anywhere in the South (her issues are not confined to NOLA) could have good healthcare, period. I could quote statistics until I'm blue in the face, but she simply does not believe it. She also doesn't believe that a good neurosurgeon would ever work in New Orleans, and I can assure you, he is quite good. So basically this is a no win for me. I cannot prove to her anything and as soon as the slightest little detail goes awry, I'm in for days and months and years of "I told you so."

And finally, she just doesn't trust me. She doesn't believe that I've done the research. She doesn't believe that I'm in pain. She doesn't believe that I've tried other things and looked at other doctors. She believes that I am lazy (and this goes back to her asking me what I could possibly be so busy with when I was teaching full time and taking two courses- after all, they were only two undergraduate courses...) and as such, I cannot be trusted to do anything that requires effort. Of all the things she's said or done, it's her inability to trust in me and have faith in me, that is the most upsetting. She'd declared that she'll never support this decision and to me, that's a brick wall. I don't know what to do with it besides punch the shit out of it and turn around and walk away. So that's where I am. Either a door needs to appear in that wall, or I'm walking away from it.

As for having her out of the hospital room, that's not an option. My parents will both be there and asking for her to not be there is simply not something that I can do. I cannot really explain why, except that as mean as my sister is capable of being, my mother is capable of guilting. And she'll have good intentions too, but I promise that my experience will be worse if I boycott my sister, as counterintuitive as that may seem.

Also, someone inquired about TF's take on everything. He's been great. We had one moment of struggle, but it's because his goal has been to remain as Switzerland. He's not taking any sides. He's supporting whatever decision I make, he's going to doctor's offices, asking questions, bringing up both pros and cons and otherwise just trying to make it as easy on me as possible. It's both lovely and frustrating all at once because frankly I want him to tell me what to do, but apparently that's the other side of being an adult and you can't have one and not the other.

So there. That's essentially it. I had another long conversation with a family member today and I'm just plain exhausted with it all. I don't know if I'm doing the right thing and I don't know that I ever will know that. I've made the decision that in my heart and humongous brain I think is the best for me. It is a selfish decision and it turns out it is also an isolating one. But it's my decision and that's the heart of the matter.


Anonymous said...

Katie, all this about it being elective, has your insurance pre-auth'ed your surgery? If so, then you might tell her that they really do not do that if it is not medically necessary. My son had a cleft lip revision, cosmetic, not medically necessary, and of course they paid! It was needed, same as your surgery, if you follow me. Also, from what you have said in the years I have followed your story, if I were you, I would tell your mom and sister that you only want one family member there, it is dad, and thanks for offering. He can call home to tell them how you are doing. And just personally, "Switzerland" should decide whose side he is on, it should be yours, and I am sure it is, and stand beside you in every way when it comes to defending your right to choose what you want to do. Just sayin'.....

I had very similar experiences but I was in my 30's before I said screw it, I am doing what I want to do with my life, and I cut off a local relationship with my family, and only called them when it was truly needed. They got it, after a few months, and things are so much better now. But it has to be done who you are ready, and it sounds like you are not right now. You also need to frequently remind them to leave you alone and respect your opinions, or you will end it again. It really sounds like you place a huge amount of weight with what your family says. Like you said, you are an adult, 24, so (no offense, really!) grow up, and tell them how it is, and that you will not tolerate it anymore. Yes, they may be right, but they may be wrong, and let you learn from your mistakes, like we all do.


kim-d said...

You know how I feel about whatever decision you make about anything...I support it. Even if I don't agree, I support it. For instance, I feel that when it comes to YOUR health, being selfish is a necessary thing. As far as The Sister is concerned, I feel better now that I know that YOU know what and who she is, and that you're not taken in by her at all. I still think that one of these times you really should tell her to shut her cakehole, but I also understand you might not be able to do that. Someday, you will, in your own way. Just promise if and when you do, even if I'm an old, old lady living in the home, find some way of letting me know you FINALLY did it! :)

Girl from Pennsylvania said...

I have an older sister who is the perfect one, but it took me a while to get along with her. We use to hate each other then slowly we became closer. I am not saying this will happen because every family is different. But I completely understand where you are coming from. As for your sister being perfect, she totally blows when it comes to TF. He is the person you have chose to spend your time with and that she should respect whether she respects his religion or not. That, in itself, makes her quite far from perfect.

I think it is wonderful that TF is being "Switzerland". If you are like me, you would probably find it frustrating that he was pushing you in one direction over the other. I think the most important thing is that he wants the best for you and he is showing that by supporting you and your own decision unlike your sister.

I hope things go wonderfully and that recovery is short and relatively painless. Best of luck.

Daisy, Just Daisy said...

Families are difficult, no way around that. You should make a sign with the rules in your hospital room and recovery suite. The rules should include things like "No arguing" and such and then, if she or anyone else breaks them you can point to the door. You could also demand they rub your feet on the way out the door, but that is optional of course.