Adult sibling estrangement is unspoken wretchedness that affects many families. Early childhood dynamics often play a part in the breakdown of these family ties. Relationships between siblings can sometimes metastasize into toxic situations that are difficult to repair. Very often, one or more sibling decides that they are done. Siblings who cannot appropriately deal with conflict are more likely to end up estranged. It’s easier to stay away. There seem to be two personality types that are prone to estrangement: the angry, hostile sibling and the injustice hoarder. The injustice hoarder will replay every wrong thing done to them. It is instinctive for siblings to engage in rivalry as they vie for their parent’s affection.
I am quite familiar with sibling estrangement. Six sisters, each estranged to some degree. The broken dynamics of our family largely contributed to our separation and isolation. Anger, abuse, and uncertainty were the major components of our childhood. I easily identify as the angry, hostile sibling growing up. I was angry at everyone and everything, which made it easy for a couple of my siblings to stay away. Maybe that is what I wanted at the time. One of my sisters would walk away but always came back until recently. It seems like she should have walked away years ago when I was a complete wreck, but instead she waited until I became a better person. Sibling estrangement can have detrimental effects on everyone involved. A sibling relationship lasts approximately thirty years longer than a parental relationship. Why wouldn’t you talk to the ones who can share your childhood memories?
Another sister of mine walked away when I left her with debt that I had incurred while living with her. We tried to remain civil after that, but she already harbored too much resentment from being left in our adoptive parent’s home. That brings me to the last three sisters. Our estrangement is the result of never knowing each other. The estrangement is neither bad nor good, but it exists. The fact that we have never met is a clear result of having a dysfunctional mother. All of the degrees of our estrangement stem from this woman who gave birth to us. In my opinion, we never learned how to resolve our feelings of anger and resentment and found reasons to blame each other.
So how do we fix it? Having lived most or all of our lives as strangers, it is hard to find a starting point. I made changes in my life however it seems too late. My past is all they see, and I suppose that is what I deserve. No amount of apologies on my part has made a difference, and zero attempts made by them. I have many regrets growing up and not having a relationship with my siblings has moved high on my list. I recently witnessed the regret of another person’s estrangement with their sibling. It took for one of the siblings to be on their death bed to make them realize how much they loved and missed each other. Their situation feels so familiar to me, and I don’t want to feel that guilt and regret at the end of my days. So much time wasted because of anger and misunderstanding can be healed with forgiveness and communication. I love all of my sisters, even though we are all a little twisted.
~Kelly (Kasper) Blake 2019