Some thoughts on sisterhood

by | Mar 21, 2012 | Memoir, Musings, Relationships, Reversible Skirt | 12 comments

I’m going to be on a panel at the Women’s PowerStrategy Conference Saturday and even though the panel topic is “If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother” (on which I’m sure I’ll have plenty to say, no doubt), I’m preparing a one-page handout about sisterhood (on which I have even more to say). I’m pasting my draft in here and would very much apreciate your feedback.

Some Thoughts on Sisterhood
By Laura McHale Holland
Author of Reversible Skirt, a Memoir

My two sisters are my dearest friends. Over the years, they have cheered me and comforted me through all my triumphs and sorrows. And vice versa. But we weren’t always buddies. Our early years brought us significant heartbreak and abuse that, rather than pull us together, drove us apart. For many long days, nights and years, an ugly current of bitterness ran through our relationships; fights, ridicule and jealousy ruled our world.

Then things changed. Gradually at first, and then more rapidly, we transformed from sniping detractors into enthusiastic fans. And we have been close for so long now, the times of strife among us truly are distant memories. However, countless times people have come up to me, remarked upon the bond my sisters and I share and then looked wistfully as they’ve said something like, “I haven’t spoken to my sister in years. What’s your secret?”

So I’m going to write down ten things my sisters and I, through trial and error, have learned about how to care for each other. I hope these thoughts on sisterhood help others seeking to form a closer bond with their beloved sisters—by blood or otherwise.

Together you and your sisters must:

1. Decide you want to have loving, supportive relationships with each other and commit to taking action to make that happen. It is best for all parties involved to make this decision and commitment. Meaningful progress will be much slower otherwise.

2. Remember that the past is over; there is nothing you can do to change it. So forgive yourself for any harm you may have caused your sisters and forgive your sisters for any harm they may have caused you.

3. Realize that you and your sisters will inadvertently hurt each other’s feelings after you’ve made a commitment to do the opposite. Forgive yourself and your sisters for these blunders as they occur and move on.

4. Focus more on listening than on being heard, and learn to see things from your sisters’ points of view.

5. Do things together that you all enjoy, things that make you all laugh, things that will bring smiles to your faces long afterward.

6. Tell your sisters often how much you love them. Always put your loving connection with one another above all else in the relationships.

7. Notice your sisters’ good qualities and the admirable things they’ve done. Tell them about these things repeatedly—and celebrate them.

8. If you need to complain about one of your sisters, do it with someone outside of the situation. Look for a sympathetic ear, but don’t try to convince the person you are good and your sister is bad.

9. Think about where your sisters need a hand and provide wholehearted, passionate assistance.

10. Be patient. Some struggles we face are life-long. Have high expectations, but don’t give up if your sister falls short. Hold out an encouraging hand.

This is my first stab at sharing this, so I’m bound to have left some things out. I may elaborate on these and provide examples in the future. I will welcome your comments.

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  1. Eve Trout

    Hi Laura, congratulations on your part being on the panel. I think you hit on all the important aspects of sisterhood. So many reminders why our sister/s are so important to us. Gave me insight why my sister is important to me. There are so many things on that list of 10 that I will take away for myself. Things that are important and I/we take for granted and don’t say/do to each other. Thank you for your thoughts on why our sisters are so important to each other. I think you’re gonna do a fabulous job. My best wishes for you while on the panel.

  2. Jerry Kohut

    good advice

  3. admin

    Thanks, Jerry!

  4. admin

    Thank you, Eve! Your comments reminded me of how easy it is to take our sisters and other special people in our lives for granted and how important it is to not do that.

  5. Holly

    I totally agree with what you wrote here. My sisters and I have moved along this this exact pathway. I value them so highly and I would do, and have done, anything I could for them. Like you, this was a natural progression for me. As I saw things improve, I used the momentum to push things forward. Today my sisters view me as as great resource and support system, exactly what I have striven to be for them. I am the oldest of six, and the first four of us were girls. Things were rough during our growing up years and we were pitted against each other at times. There was jealousy and resentment – as the oldest I was often the recipient of that – but time and effort healed those old and now meaningless wounds. I don’t know where I’d be without my sisters. I am grateful to have them and I am so glad I was not raised during times when people had only one or two kids. There is no substitute for siblings. Thanks for putting these words of wisdom out there for others to see. I have known of your regard for your sisters since I met you so long ago. You definitely walk it, and not just talk it.

  6. admin

    Eloquently said, Holly. We have even more in common than I knew. This pleases me no end.

  7. Robin Leigh Morgan

    There are two sayings / adages which I feel totally apply to what you’ve said.

    1 – Blood is thicker than water.
    2 – To err is human to forgive devine.

  8. Barbara Toboni

    You deserve those good relationships with your sisters. This is very valuable advice, especially #4. And thanks for reminding me about #5. Time to make a plan with my sister even though she lives out of state.

  9. admin

    Thanks, Barbara! I hope you and your sister have a splendid, splendid time when you next get together.

  10. admin

    Thanks for sharing those sayings, Robin. I love the second one; I’m not so sure about the first, though. Do you think it’s really blood, or could it be so much shared experience during formative years that often binds siblings together? I know women who are not sisters by blood but who are so close they are like sisters.

  11. Carrie

    My sister, Kathy, was 2 years younger. My youngest sister, Margaret, is 10 years younger. Kathy and I were very close – people thought we were twins. She chose to leave the world at age 31 years leaving a 10 month old and 4 year old behind. Margaret and I have drawn closer as a result. I cannot understand sisters who aren’t the best of friends. When you lose a sister all sibling rivalry goes out the window!

  12. admin

    I am moved by your story, Carrie. I am sorry you lost your sister Kathy (and especially sad that she chose to leave this world; my mother did the same when I was two years old, so I know what it’s like to live with that legacy) but I’m happy that you and Margaret are close. I think when we lose someone dear to us, it causes us to think about what really matters in life, and what could be more important than expressing our love for our sisters and other people we hold dear? … I remember the first time my sisters and I talked about the fact that we probably wouldn’t all die at the same time. I was maybe 11 years old, and until that point I’d never imagined living in a world without my sisters, or they me. I feel so lucky to have had them all these years and hope we have one another for many, many years to come. I hope the same for you and Margaret.

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