Monday, 21 April 2014

But: I'm familyyyyyyyyyy

My relationship with my siblings is ... complicated. There was always (and I mean always!) drama. A was fighting with B, then they would close ranks to fight with C, then everybody would turn against somebody else: it was even too much effort to find out which siblings were even talking together. I never got that and they never got me: they just tried to make me just like them. I tried to stay out of the family wars, but they wanted me in, so at some point I let go of the rope and walked away.
That decision brought me a lot of peace for the next couple of decades.

And then Facebook happened and one sister contacted me with a friend request. By now I'd moved to the other side of the world, she and I never had any real problems, so I agreed. We occasionally comment on each others posts, exchange birthday and New Years wishes and that's it. Just the way I like it. I even friended some other siblings and we're all friendly, polite and non-interfering.
All was well, or so I thought.

Until that message from another sibling. She's 3 years my senior, and always tried to tell me what to do and even what to feel and think. (My remarks in brackets.)

Hi Juul (a diminutive of my name nobody only my parents and husband were allowed to call me by)
Saw that you're on facebook as well, but now at the other side of the world.
Divorced as well by now, if I see this correctly (nothing about my relationship on Facebook, since it's nobody's business), heavens a lot of marriages in our family have ended badly, could that be a result of our screwed up upbringing? (My husband and I grew apart, that can happen after 30 years of marriage, not exactly a bad end, I don't think.)
Jim and I have split up as well, unfortunately the alcohol became too big an issue between the two of us, two crates of beer a day is no competition. (Now she's dumping all over me.)
Remarried in 200x, but unfortunately Alex died shortly after, so widowed. Luckily I now have a very sweet new man in my life, we're living together now in Y. And therefore big family as well, because he has 5 children with their partners.
Hope your life is fine as well and that you're finding what you seek in far away America. (Because it's very easy to confuse New Zealand with the USA: both English speaking and both far away from Europe.)
Your sister Margaret (She's Margaret, I never called her by a diminutive of her name when she insisted on her full name, but she can't return the courtesy.)

I had no idea what to answer her, so I didn't. Then she sent me a friend request and I, foolishly perhaps, granted it.

Next thing I know she's remarking on a picture I've been tagged in:
Girl, how much you and Lisa look alike, and how well you look these days.

Lisa is another sister, I've been told we look alike since I've been 4, I know that already. And what does she mean that I look well these days? Unfortunate choice of words or backhanded compliment?

A posting on my wall:
So far away from the netherlands, but by the looks of it a very good and nice life over there. Hopefully you don't miss the salt liquorice too much, because that's hard to find in a lot of countries. Love, big hug, Margaret.

Yeah, I never figured that Dutch liquorice might be harder to find abroad. It's a good thing my elder sister enlightened me on that point. OK, I'm getting annoyed by her now, but I still don't react, because I don't know what to say and because I don't want to get too close. Sis, take a hint already and back off.

And then, today, another message. Please read it and let me know how justified I am to feel thoroughly ticked off.

Hello Julia, After all these years I'm very curious about how you ended up in New Zealand and what happened in your life. You never were very involved with the family (that's right, I've always been the introvert between the extroverts), something I got fed up with after years of Christmas cards (cards I never received, because she never sent them, my family is good at rewriting history), you never reacted, so sent you a last one with the words, if you don't send anything back, you choose to not have any contact. (Must have been about the time that I, after a last letter to all of them, decided to drop the rope.) But you still added me (I did not initiate that contact) so despite everything you do want some kind of contact, actually. Therefore, tell me about your life these last years. (It's not upon others to define how much I want to share, now is it?) Saw the picture of you and your granddaughter (not my grandchild actually, as she could easily have found out), a beautiful, well groomed woman, what a change, because when we saw each other last you didn't take such good care of yourself. Like when wearing your office dress at the wedding anniversary of Mary and John. (A new dress, in which I looked great, IIRC.) You look great in this (jeans and a sweater, nothing special), grooming becomes you. And you resemble Lisa very much now, in looks and taste. Cheers and big hug, Margaret

I don't know what to answer her. I'm not sure I even want to. Perhaps just block her and let the drama roll on without me?


  1. Hi Julia, some unfortunate choice of words, but I get the impression your sister is making a genuine attempt to reconnect with you. Perhaps you could just respond in a very general manner, just say hello and perhaps how you are finding life in our fair little country. You don't have to go into much detail or broach the subject of ongoing contact.


  2. I think she is just trying to make/keep contact. I think what she writes and what you read are two different things - semantics. Do your best and as Roz said just keep things general. Good luck

    1. ng to decide what to tell Margaret, when she replied on one of my posts again. Her reply to something I believed to be mild and humorous, was an attack on our mother. I realise our mother is a hot button for her, but I don't want that kind of negativity on my wall. Another one of our sisters then agreed with her, and I deleted both replies.

      She also posted on my wall again: Ha, hi there, I know you're still alive, I can see that by all the pictures you're sharing. Will we be hearing anything personal from you??????? Charles and Margaret

      As my son in law very astutely remarked, she just doesn't get my need for privacy.

      I sent her a message: There's not much to tell. I'm now living in New Zealand because my grandchildren are here.
      Do you think I should tell her what I've been doing today? Nah, I'd rather tell you: you're heads won't explode.
      But not now, I'm still as high as a kite.

  3. Julia, you're back? Or were back, since this was three weeks ago. I thought you'd vanished. Perhaps you have again. Ah, how I miss connecting with old friends.

    1. Yes, I'm back. There will be a new post soon.