- Family and Parenting
Related: A Bond Between Sisters
S1573RZClick thumbnail to view full-size
Related: The Bond of Sisters
Interpersonal relationships are vital to every interaction in our daily lives; the way we communicate helps define us as people and gives us our reputation as we interact with others. Every form of communication, whether verbal or nonverbal reveals our feelings towards ourselves and others, sometimes unconsciously, and allows us to share our thoughts and feelings. I chose to reflect on my relationship with my sister, Autumn. We have a long standing healthy relationship, and she is the only person I can truly say I have I-Thou communication with.
The I-Thou dynamic is essential to feeling loved and accepted as you are, and recognizes each of you as unique and cherished individuals. My sister is probably the only person I love and accept unconditionally, my parents included, and vice versa. No matter what either of us does, we know the other one will be there, we are fundamentally two pieces of the same heart, and we can’t really be totally functional without each other. We don’t judge or hide behind our true feelings, and I love that I can do or say anything and nothing ever changes.
Sometimes, as with any siblings, we do fight, and that’s when I remind myself that I don’t know what tomorrow will bring and that we shouldn’t fight about trivial things, because it may be the last time we talk. I have to remind myself that communication is irreversible and sometimes apologies don’t matter. I love that my sister and I always know when something is wrong or if we are sick or down about something. We don’t even need to talk, if one or the other of us is sick, hurt or going through something, we have an intuition that something is wrong and call each other. I think it is very special that we have such a deep bond, especially since she is only 14 and I am 25. When we were younger, I got very jealous of her, because I was an only child for 10 years, but out of the jealousy grew an overprotective side in me and now if anyone does anything to hurt her I get very defensive and try to resolve her battles for her, which sometimes frustrates her because she is trying to be her on person and have her own interpersonal relationships with others and my reactions sometimes interfere with her being her own person and finding herself.
Sometimes I fail to realize that talking about things can’t make certain situations better, and my sister tends to be more reserved about some issues than I do. Sometimes I feel like if she would just talk about it, things would get better, but she feels like she needs to evaluate her reactions and feelings further before opening up about it. I tell my sister almost everything, but there are certain things that are inappropriate for her age, so I keep that in mind when communicating with her. Sometimes I forget that she is so much younger, because she has a great understanding and knowledge of life because we have been through so many hardships together, forcing us to be adults at a young age.
My sister and I both share a contempt for our mother, and harbor feelings of resentment toward our fathers, and we connect very deeply regarding these issues, because I was her parental figure for so many years and still continue to be an authoritative figure in her life. Sometimes she gets frustrated and will call me mom because I try to steer her in the right direction and help her avoid the many pitfalls I ran into, but I think mostly I need to remember she needs to make her own decisions and mistakes to grow as a person and that I can’t shelter her from the world forever.
I try to be supportive of every decision my sister makes whether or not I agree with it, and I tell her when I think she is making mistakes or doing well. I think the hardest part for me is watching her make some of the same mistakes I made, but I know she is not me, though she is very similar, and all I can do is give her advice and hope she takes heed to it. She has self-esteem issues just like I do and I try to be approving as much as I can because reflected appraisal is a huge part of self-image. I try to be a positive influence in her life now, because for many years, I was on a very negative downward spiral and she witnessed all of my trials and tribulations, much to my dismay. I want to be a role model in her life that inspires her to do great things, instead of an example of what not to do.
Growing up our parents were for all intents and purposes unavailable to us, all we had was each other, so I think we have a secure attachment style, though both of us have reactive attachment disorders towards everyone else on our lives, and we both struggle to maintain healthy relationships with every other person we interact with. Our mom always tried to be a friend instead of a parent, and was basically dysfunctional in the parenting role, being that she had the anxious/ambivalent attachment style towards us, so I took on the caregiver role and now as my sister ages, she is taking on the parent role with our mother. Our mom only took care of us or saw us when it suited her, but when she did see us she acted as if she was the best parent in the world and continues to do so.
I think because of all the struggles and strife my sister and I have faced together, we will continue to stay close for our entire lives. I can’t imagine a day without talking to her and I feel out of sorts when it has been too long since we have seen each other. I think the best part of our intimate relationship is that we have no boundaries within the relationship and can think, feel, or say anything without fear. Our interactions are raw, unscripted communication and I feel it helps Autumn and I grow not only our relationship, but ourselves.
My sister and I used to blame each other for things, as well as our mom, without any taking any real responsibility for our own actions, which is reflective of the self-serving bias. Now we try to look at things rationally and explain them without blaming anyone, though it is still something both of us struggle with. I think the cognitive complexity of our familial interactions is another key factor in our closeness. My sister is nearly on the same wavelength I am with her perceptions, though sometimes I get frustrated because she can’t see the whole picture, and I remember she is 11 years younger than me and hasn’t had the experiences I have.
Autumn and I have this ability to communicate exactly how we are feeling, without ever saying anything. It’s almost like we have our own nonverbal language that no one else can understand. Many people who spend time with us together get frustrated because we can carry on a full conversation without saying a word, or we have so many inside stories that even if we do verbalize our thoughts, they are incomprehensible to anyone except us.
My sister and I have similar taste in clothing and accessories and we often symbolize our friendship and love by buying each other matching gifts, like friendship necklaces or matching outfits. I feel like some of our family and friends are jealous of the connection we have, particularly our cousin Kristina, who tries way too hard to pull Autumn away from me.
My sister and I have nicknames for each other as well, that many see as insults, but we see them as terms of endearment, for example she calls me “big butt” and I call her “ weirdo”. Some people may look in at us from the outside and think that we have a dysfunctional relationship, but it is our unique way of sharing our affection for one another and we both understand how much the other means to us. My sister and I both put the greatest amount of time into our relationship in comparison with every other interaction we have. I love my relationship with my sister as she is my best friend and my heart and after seeing how the dynamics of interpersonal relationships apply to our situation, I feel even closer to her than I did before, and I have a greater understanding of each of our roles.