Growing up, my sister and I were incredibly close.
As we got older, we distanced ourselves. We went to the same college but didn't meet up.
After a huge fight we finally spoke candidly. Now, our relationship is stronger than before.
"Are you twins?"
My older sister and I constantly heard this question from neighbors, teachers, and strangers during childhood. We'd exchange a look and laugh because we didn't look alike, but we were always posing for pictures together in matching outfits.
Our hijinks growing up included creating our own secret language, performing in fashion shows for our parents, and running an American Girl doll club (she was the president, I was the secretary). We even had sleepovers together in our basement. When I woke up in the morning, she had often abandoned me on the floor for the comfort of her bed, but I still cherish my memories of us preparing our sleeping bags and talking late into the night.
We had spats, too, but with time we invariably became friends again without acknowledging the altercations. We just moved on in unspoken agreement.
High school changed everything
High school brought changes for us. We clashed because while my sister needed quiet to complete college applications, I wanted to practice singing loudly for the school musical.
Simultaneously, I began perceiving differences in our relationships with our mom: I sat in the car's backseat while my mom and sister chatted up front. They went to Starbucks and exercise classes as a pair, but I didn't do one-on-one activities with my mom. As an insecure adolescent, I worried that they were becoming the duo my sister and I used to be.
It didn't help that my mom and I constantly argued over my peers' nickname for me, Jackie, which she despised. This tension resulted in altercations when I wanted to use her car to see friends. I was confused about why she never had similar conflicts with my sister and wished my sister would share my feelings. Struggling to cope with my emotions, I distanced myself from both of them.
We went to the same college but never met up
During my first year of college, my sister and I rarely met despite attending the same school. Then COVID-19 sent us home, forcing us together. One night, we had a particularly fierce fight, and I stormed away, believing she didn't want me in her life anymore. I was scared that this time we couldn't just ignore the dispute and be OK again.
Gathering my courage, I texted her that night: "Can we talk?" We then sat on my bedroom's carpeted floor for an hour, candidly identifying how we hurt each other and explaining our perspectives. I realized I had been playing a martyr when, in reality, I had projected my problems with my mom onto my sister. The fact that I had a different relationship with our mom than she did was not her fault; I needed to work out my issues to be a better sister and daughter.
We are closer than before
When she left my room, I created a note on my phone of behaviors I resolved to change going forward. I'm sure I can still improve, but since then, I've always tried to follow through. Now, our relationship has never been stronger. We often text to dissect the quotidian drama of our lives and schedule time to chat over ice cream. People occasionally say we look alike, and we still laugh. We share a sense of TikTok humor (mostly "Dance Moms" content), hug each other goodbye, and speak using our secret language. I've even attended exercise classes with my sister and mom. They kicked my butt.
I'm grateful for that pivotal conversation — the first time we truly apologized instead of silently moving on. Guided by a greater understanding of my sister and myself, I'm exploring my own life path and cheering her on as she enjoys hers.
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