We often hear how much our parents shape us, but the ways our siblings relate to and influence us can be just as profound.
For years, I’d felt guilt, sadness, and a longing to be close to my older sister, but our relationship was shadowed by deep, unresolved dynamics from our childhood. She kept me at arms’ length, only talking to me when necessary, and I felt badly every time I thought about reaching out to her.
I knew the first step was to examine and take responsibility for my part in the rift. I didn’t need to relive each painful episode, but I needed to understand the general dynamic and recognize my contributions to it.
So, I wrote my sister a letter describing my lifelong desire for acceptance, inclusion, and closeness with her. I apologized for being a competitive brat, always trying to best her and push my way into her circle of friends. I used to shoot her disapproving looks and say sharp, mean things when I felt excluded or when I couldn’t keep up with her and her friends. In many ways, I was the favored child when we were young. I hurt her feelings then, and I think the legacy of that old favoritism lingers today.