Do Not Disturb
You’re not alone here
We all do it. We spend more time worrying about someone else, caring about them, sending love and good vibes their way. No matter how much we try to love them, though, in the end . . . it’s not enough.
I have a twin sister. Growing up, I admired her: her looks, her personality, her ability to talk to anyone and everyone, especially guys. She was always the outgoing one; always had more friends around than I seemed to have. She always had a date, too, no matter what it was. If she happened to be heartbroken over her latest “long-term boyfriend” and Valentine’s Day was coming up, you bet your ass she wasn’t going to be single; even if they only dated for the week.
Things had to be separate. We grew up in a private Christian school. They kept us together for pre-k. Once kindergarten hit, they moved us to different classes, though. Which, you know, we’re five, it’s fine. Yes, I miss my sister but we’re off doing our own thing, learning the colors and how to spell bigger words. But things had to be separate. Not from an administration standpoint, though; from her. If she liked something, I wasn’t allowed to. If she had a friend, I wasn’t allowed to be as close to them or even at all. If I liked something and wanted her to be involved, too bad, so sad, she wasn’t doing it.
As we got older, our classes and friend groups began to meld again, but mostly, I still stuck to my own. I was shy, not very outgoing, had a hard time opening up to people. I’m not really sure why; I just did. Writing was her thing, so I didn’t. Dating was her thing, and I damn sure didn’t. We grew, we graduated, we started college, I went off, tried to include her in my life, and she still wasn’t buying it. I tried and I tried, and she seemed just interested enough to appear like she cared, but at the end of the day, if I really looked at it, it was all surface and didn’t matter.
The summer after I graduated college, my dad died very suddenly and unexpectedly. Life, for obvious reasons, shifted. I was there for my mom and she was there for me. And my sister, and I was there for her, too. But my she had already pulled even farther away. This is when I began to realize, I was a spectator in her life, and not a welcome participant as I had tried to place her in mine. She pulled away and pulled away, taking only what she needed from us, and giving nothing back, including a decent, loving relationship.
She eventually moved across the country and I spoke to her intermittently, infrequently, and only at her will. I was there whenever she needed to call or skype or anything. Not even half that credit could be given to her in return. She was gone for nearly two years. I didn’t see her once. I only got her on the phone, like I said, on her schedule, mine be damned. And any time I needed to talk to my twin, it seemed more like she pittied me than gave a damn to talk things through with me.
How do you adult?
Now, yes . . . a lot of that sounds like the jaded, bitter sister that just wants the love and approval from her very own twin paired with a healthy dose of lots of bitching. Granted, a lot of it probably is. I’m the first to admit that I’m exceptionally jealous of healthy sibling relationships that I see, especially twins. But it’s also the back story of my point.
Some people just suck . . . and you might even be related to them. No matter how much we try, no matter how much we care, they still just don’t give a shit. That’s a hard pill to swallow. We try to cut it up into smaller pieces; wash it down with a couple bottles of wine; deal with it over a period of several years and then, wham. One bad conversation and you’re reminded that, somehow, in their eyes, you’re wrong for wanting them to be a part of your life and vice versa.
I recently gave a talk and a weekend retreat for high school aged girls on living a single life (that will be a separate post that I will likely write tomorrow because, fortuitously, the impending storm has cancelled school, so I get to spend time dealing with my own head instead of trying to teach others). A lot of people have given that talk before me and a lot will give it after me. Usually, the speaker goes through how it’s ok to be single, that you don’t have to have a man around to define who you are. Yes, that’s absolutely true. I gave a slightly different twist on that and added that the key to being successful in living a happy single life, it to be ok with it, and love who you are.
That takes some time to get to. There will be days where you only make a few steps. There will be some days where you sit on the side of the road. There will be some days that you’ve traveled miles beyond a point you never thought you’d even see before you hit thirty-five. Then some days sneak up out of nowhere, whirl you around an emotional tornado, and land you flat on your ass wondering if it was even worth the journey in the first place.
You can lie to yourself, and to everyone around you, and say that you don’t care; that it doesn’t bother you that you care more than they do. But in the end, you know that you’re justified in your feelings. You know that caring and loving so deeply, and wanting the same in return, does not make you a bad person or even someone to feel ashamed that they’re supposedly trying to “guilt” the other person. You’re not. You’re not wrong to feel; not wrong to love; and damn sure not wrong to be hurt by the bitter reality of realizing the truth that the one, or ones, you love don’t reciprocate.
I’ve been told I have a healthy ability for compassion: a willingness to put myself in someone else’s shoes, to take the focus off myself and to imagine what it’s like to be in someone else’s predicament, and simultaneously, feel love for that person. Recognition that other people’s problems, their pain, and their frustrations, are every bit as real as our own — often far worse. That self-development is a hard pairing with knowing that you’ll still be hurt in the end by someone not caring as much for you as you do for them.
This is where the life lessons and the introspection come in handy. Take time to be fully committed to realizing that your point of view might not necessarily be the right one. You’re still justified to feel the way you do, but choose your battles, even with yourself. And then grow. Ask yourself, why is this issue in my life? What would it mean and what would be involved to rise above it? Could I possibly look at this issue any differently? Can I see it as a test of some kind?
My twin spent the past two years with her family, friends, and people that care about her on “do not disturb” mode and carried on with her life. The rest of us constantly questioned, what had we done? Why are we so unforgivable? What can I change to make her happy?
In the end
I realized tonight, after an awkward dinner that ended with me upset because my sister tried to make me out to be the bad guy for “guilting” her about not feeling badly that she didn’t talk to us for that long. I was somehow the bad guy in all of that because I needed and wanted my twin. I was somehow wrong.
I know I’m not alone in this type of experience. I know I’m not going to be the last. In some dark corner of her heart, I’m sure my twin loves me; but I know this: she’d rather see herself happy and worry about her own life than try to be a part of mine. I may take a page out of her book and give her a taste of her own medicine, but that’s foolheartedly believing that she’ll come around to seeing how badly she’s hurt me. Instead, I’ll marinate on this because I agree so much with it:
“I’m a firm believer in fate, and the role the universe plays by bringing people into your life. So I’d like to encourage everyone to keep that faith and believe that even if you’re struggling now, there will come a day where you won’t be anymore. Trust that everyone who comes into and goes out of your life serves a purpose, even if you don’t know it yet. And always stay open to the possibility of love growing in a place you never expected it to.” ~Kate Mercurio
So, I may not speak to my twin again, or even for a long time. I might sleep on it and try to call her. She might have a change of heart and try to contact me. Who knows? I surely don’t. And I’m ok with that fact.