I try to be one of those people that doesn't let things get to me, but they do. I will say I'm okay, or I understand because I don't want my irrational hurt (because usually it is irrational, and then I even out) to cause more hurt or make things worse. It takes me a while to process, the good and the bad, so really it's best to let me internalize it for a while. I know that can lead to blow ups and seemingly spontaneous crying fits. I try not to let it get that bad, but sometimes it just does. I realized (as I have been stewing about something), I should just write about it. So, here goes.
Some history first, because I feel like it is required. My sisters and I have three older half siblings. I'm changing their names for privacy and will attempt to be vague about too many details in their lives for the same reason. It's not a big secret. I don't omit them or pretend they don't exist, they just never come up because they are not a part of our lives. We've always known about them, but we didn't get to grow up with them and we didn't get to meet them. I'm not going to go into the details of why, but suffice to say our relationship (or lack there of) was determined by people that thought they were making the best choices for those involved at the time. Growing up I was always curious, hopeful, and a little afraid that they would appear one day. I wanted to meet them, these big sisters I always wanted, but I was afraid that maybe they didn't want us or that they were somehow mad at us.
Jane, Mary, and Anne. Growing up we had been shown pictures of them. Our grandma had some school photos that had been provided to her, and one of our favorite things to do when we would visit was look at her photo albums. I think if you could take a photo of the six of us with dad you would see a family resemblance, but in passing I don't think it would be as obvious. When I was younger I wondered if I would recognize them if we ever ran into them. The pictures grandma had were old by the time we got our hands on them. We knew about them, I wondered if they knew about us.
It was around my third year of college when I became aware that Anne was in Portland. Somehow I also knew where she was working. It seemed so strange to me, here is this person I'm related to but have never met just a few hours away. And then it hit me, what was stopping me from meeting her? After 20 some years of pretty much living in the same place and no one showing up to meet us maybe it was time to make a move. The only thing that holding me back was not wanting to do something that would come back and hurt dad, or anyone. But I was tired of not knowing these sisters and all of the sudden I had a way to do something about that.
I talked to dad and told him what I wanted to do. The idea was, to go up to her place of work with a small support group and finally meet her. Melanie was going to college not to far from where Anne was working, so my roommate Jayne and I would go stay the night with Melanie and her roommate Sam, and then the four of us would go meed Anne. I hoped it would go well, and she would want to get to know us and then Sara could meet her. Dad understood where I was coming from, and was supportive about us meeting her. Always protective, I was reminded not to get my hopes up because we had no way of knowing what they had been told growing up. Maybe there was a reason they had not come looking for us and our intrusion (because it very well could be perceived as such) into Anne's life could be unwelcome. I went in knowing it may not be a good experience.
Planning to do it was easy enough, it was when we were actually headed there and on our way into where she worked that I became incredibly nervous. The details of the actual event are pretty fuzzy. I was really glad to have Melanie, Jayne and Sam with me. We were just showing up, unannounced at Anne's place of employment. I was a little freaked out about how she was going to respond. We found the restaurant, and we were seated at a nice table. I remember wondering what on earth I was doing and was questioning the path I was going down. Having Melanie there was a huge help. In an uncharacteristic moment, I took charge of the situation and set things in motion. I asked the server if Anne was working, which she was, and then asked if he could send her over at her convenience.
Anne came over, and we introduced ourselves. The encounter is kind of a crazy blur. I'm pretty sure I was the spokesperson for our group, which is very much unlike me. I know Anne was surprised and not entirely thrilled, but she handled it well. She didn't freak out. She was actually very nice, and more open to the experience than she could have been. She could have simply said "nope" and walked away. Instead she took a break and sat down with us to talk. I told her why we had come, that we didn't have any expectations. We just wanted to meet her. We told her what we knew about the situation. Anne was surprised we knew as much about them as we did, and I was surprised they knew as little about us as they did. I like to think it meant something, on some level, to Anne that they weren't forgotten. We exchanged information, and she politely thanked us for finding her, and told us we had given her a lot to think about. I hoped she would write, but I wasn't sure.
I think we did exchange a few notes or holiday cards, but it would be years after that first meeting before we would get together with Anne again. I felt good about finally meeting Anne, but there was still this weird awareness that there were sisters out there we didn't know, that were not a part of our lives.
I think the next time we connected with Anne was with Sara's help. Sara is the more, bold and outgoing of the three of us. She is really good at making things happen when she wants them to. She reached out to Anne after she was up at college. Anne was at a different place in her life, as were all of us. I think this time around she was a little more curious, and now she had finally met all three of us. Sara and her husband, Spouse (I know, creative), started getting together with Anne and her fiance, Henry, Sara invited David and I to one of these dinners that she and Spouse were hosting at their apartment. We went and had a nice time. We ended up doing a few more meals together over the next few years.
Getting to know Anne, and Henry, gave me some insight. We both had very different understandings of what had happened between her mom and our dad. Also, while none of them held anything specific against the three of us, she was the only one that had any interest in getting to know us. Jane and Mary wanted nothing to do with us. I feel like we were thought of as another complication in lives that were already full of complications. By talking to us, Anne was putting herself in the middle with Jane and Mary. We weren't pressuring her to introduce us to them, I think they gave her a bit of a hard time for spending any time with us, and I think it was hard for Anne to defend her choice to them.
I have to believe Anne did the best she could, without making things more difficult with her sisters. It is hard sometimes to understand where they are coming from, but from what we knew of their childhood and adult lives they have their hands full. It would have been nice to have talked to them about the things they went though, but it clearly was not meant to be. While I don't think it's right, having to "take sides," if the table were turned and Melanie and Sara were against meeting Jane, Anne and Mary I would be doing my best not to upset my relationship with either of them. I wish Jane and Mary could remove how they feel about our dad from the situation and focus on the three half sisters who would love to meet them. I happen to think Melanie and Sara are pretty awesome, and my life is so much fuller for having them be a part of it. Jane and Mary are really missing out, and Anne is too because she has to choose.
Okay, sorry about taking so long to get to what this post is really about. I still feel like the back story was important. Anne and Henry got married. They had been waiting for a long time, and I am truly happy for them that they finally made it happen. Melanie, Sara, and I were not included in the big day. We weren't invited to the wedding, we weren't invited to any showers, parties, brunches, etc. I'm not surprised, given how Jane and Mary felt about us it was pretty obvious we wouldn't be included. I was still hoping there would be a chance there would be some function we'd be invited to that was less family-centric because it would have been really nice to share in this happy time with Anne and Henry. The weeks leading up to the wedding there were pictures on Facebook of the various brunches, parties and celebrations. I didn't want to feel hurt that I was not included, but it did hurt. I understand why, I really do, but it doesn't make it suck any less. I can't help but think that if Anne really wanted us to feel a part of things or to share in any part of her big event she would have made it happen.
I should probably talk to Anne about how I feel, but this family thing is really touchy in ways I just don't understand. I wish that Jane and Mary could put aside how they feel about our dad and realize we had nothing to do with what happened. Instead I feel like in their eyes we carry the "sins" of our father. I don't have any ill will towards them for the "sins" of their mother. I don't know if things will ever change. I guess I have to accept that I will probably spend the rest of my life hating that we never really got the chance to really connect with them, and it's because they didn't want anything to do with us. Rejection is the worst.
I don't want to end this post on a downer. I am thankful for the time I've been able to spend with Anne. But I'm incredibly thankful for the two lovely ladies below that are a part of my life. We may not always agree, we may not always get along, but not matter what they are here for me. They love me, they are supportive of me, and they are amazing women. They are my sisters, I love you Melanie and Sara!
|Melanie, Sara, and me|