My sister and I are VERY close…but we fight like crazy. I am 36 and she is 33 and we have always been best friends. Weeeeellll…not always…there were a few teenage years that were rough. But as a adults, we fight a huge amount. I always justify it by saying that we fight “like sisters”, meaning that we get into a stupid argument and then make up five minutes later like it never happened. Unfortunately, it makes the people around us crazy and it makes us look really stupid. Today, we got into an argument over $1.50 in quarters. Seriously. Over the past year or so, I have made an effort to not engage with her in these dumb fights, mostly because of how much it bothers my mother and my boyfriend. One thing I noticed is that my sister and I fight A LOT more when we are around my mom. She often antagonizes or provokes me, but I buy into it and engage with her. Like I said, I have been trying to just let silly things go. What perplexes me more is the reason WHY we fight so much. Some of our friends have suggested it is because we are so close- both emotionally and geographically. We talk several times a day on the phone and see each other a couple times a week. I think that because we grew up with our parents constantly fighting, we are both just accustomed to confrontation. If you have never read my blog (ps thank you for reading, by the way!), my dad was a horrible alcoholic for two decades and would yell and scream at my mother and at us every night in his belligerent rages. The weird thing is that I try to avoid confrontation with every other person in my life. If I think a friend is mad at me, I literally become physically sick and I hate having to tell anyone how I really feel if I think it will lead to an argument. My sister is clearly the exception. My boyfriend’s theory (besides the fact we are both nuts) is that we fight for my mom’s attention because we oftentimes did not have it growing up. My mom would be busy dealing with my dad or deflecting his rage away from us and even though she was an awesome mother, she wasn’t always accessible due to being preoccupied with my father. It really bothers me that my sister and I fight so much because I love her so much. The only reason I am grateful for my tumultuous childhood is because it made us so close- I can’t imagine not having had her by my side throughout all we experienced.
My father has been sober for over a year now, since his stroke last October. This has made holidays and family occasions SO much better, now that there is no longer a real threat of him being drunk, violent and belligerent. I never in a million years imagined my dad not drinking, so I never allowed myself to fantasize what it would even be like if that ever happened. Even though it is obviously better, one thing I didn’t take into consideration was him having memory loss. I have so many vivid, unbelievable memories of things he did while he was drunk over the past 20 years. Whether it is from the stroke itself or just being wasted, he really does not remember doing the things he did.
Case and point…I grew up in a very big house, throughout which was an intercom system in each room. The main intercom was in the kitchen, but you could press a button in any room and your voice would be projected throughout the entire house. Unfortunately, one of the intercoms was located in my bedroom, as well as my sister’s bedroom next door to mine. My father also had one in his office in the basement, which is where he would sit and drink all day long. I have so many memories of being in my bedroom, doing my homework or talking to a friend on the phone and hearing the intercom click on with him yelling my mother’s name into it over and over or just being obnoxious. Even worse, he would yell into it while we were sleeping…on school nights. So even if we were able to get away from him physically when he was drunk, we could never escape his voice. It was constant and it was horrible. Even if the volume of the unit in my bedroom was turned all the way down, you could still hear it resonate throughout the house and there was no “off” button, so the volume would always be on, just very low. It is truly one of the most vivid things I remember about my dad being drunk and acting like a lunatic. I have blocked out so many memories from my childhood, but I could never forget that damn intercom system. It was like a torture device when I was a teenager.
Fastforward to this past week….my sister and I and our boyfriends were all at my parents’ house for Christmas and I called out something to my sister who was in another room. My dad nonchalantly mentioned I should use the intercom system, but he wasn’t sure if it even worked anymore. Then he said something like, “I don’t remember ever using it anyway”. I literally just stood and stared at him open-mouthed. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. My sister came in the room and I said to her, “dad says he never used to use the intercom”. We both looked at each other for like ten seconds and then started hysterically laughing. My dad truly didn’t understand what was so funny. On the drive back home and in the days since, it has REALLY bothered me. I mentioned it to my boyfriend and tried to explain why it was upsetting me so much. How could my father forget something he did day in and day out for years? It is so hard to make someone who didn’t experience it understand. I am not 100% sure why it is bothering me so much that he said that. Maybe it’s the whole “forgive but don’t forget” concept? Not to sound like a baby, but it’s not fair…it’s not fair that he got to act the way he did and do the damage he inflicted on all of us that affected our lives in so many ways that we still have to live with and then he just gets to forget. I want my dad to be sober, but I also want him to be sorry. He has never apologized for things he did or tried to atone for them because he doesn’t remember them. But that’s not fair!! My mom told me that she will sometimes tell him things he did throughout the past two decades when he was drunk every day and he looks at her like she is crazy…like how could she invent these horrible things??!! I know he used to black out a lot (like the time he head butted me in the face and then told the police that I attacked HIM), but I can’t believe he would forget something that he did every day, like using the intercom. It blows my mind. I can’t stop thinking about him saying that.