Originally published on XOJane and cross-posted here with their permission.
I love my sister. I love her with every ounce of my being. I say this because if she reads this I don’t want her to hate me. I do these things (put out my dirty laundry) in the hopes of forging a relationship, or at least finding a middle ground.
The first time my sister blocked me on Facebook was a couple of years ago when I posted an article titled Who Do We Have to Blow to Get Gay Marriage in New York? She re-friended me months later claiming she didn’t understand Facebook logistics and thought her contacts could read my postings.
But recently she blocked me again after I commented on her Facebook post supporting Chick-Fil-A’s stance against gay marriage. The back-and-forth commenting soon spiraled into another war of words. I suppose calling her ignorant was the last straw. She said she would pray for me and that she still loves me, and that was the end of it.
A bit of backstory about our relationship: I am the youngest of five, and my older sister practically raised me while both of our parents worked full time. I remember very clearly being in a checkout aisle with her and the cashier confusing her with my mother. I thought this was odd; clearly she was my cool, big sister — not a mom type at all.
She quit her job and stayed with me for months while I was holed up in a body cast in a San Diego hospital after I was struck by a drunk driver. She surprised me in middle school and took me to see the New Kids on the Block (my first concert ever). When the rest of our siblings ditched me to go to the mall or the movies, she wiped my tears and hung out with me.
Even when she got married and had a baby, I still went with them on family vacations. I suppose it wasn’t until I moved away to college that a slight shift occurred. Though I’d still call her frantically anytime I was sick or worried about money, when I experienced my first and last bad trip I reached out to my other sister, knowing full well a drug conversation would only result in dead air.
Although we were raised Catholic, we only went to church on special occasions like Easter and baptisms, so I hardly call our family uber religious. My sister became more and more involved with her church. Not in a cultish way, just attending mass every Sunday, which then became more than twice a week, and so on. It seemed all of her spare time (along with her family) was spent doing church activities.
I suppose our clashing began during simple phone conversations; naturally one would tell a big sister about boys, and that sort of thing. I remember speaking to her on the phone while walking to a visit to my gynecologist and she freaked out, like it was bad that I was going to see my doctor because obviously this implied that, God forbid, I was having sex.
I realized then and there that certain topics were off limits. Ultimately that meant anything personal. And so my sister and I drifted apart.
When I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband), I was beyond scared to tell her. And rightly so — she told me I was living in sin. She warmed up to the idea of us living together when she found out we were engaged. We became closer during this period, which is when she also became a vegan. Our conversations revolved around wedding preparations and cooking. She’d ask what I was making for dinner, and she’d hound me about the dangers of eating meat.
I began lying to her just to avoid confrontations: Yes, my fiance is Catholic too (he is not); yes, all the groceries are organic and locally produced (Fresh Direct technically is local); yes, the way you live your life is right, and the way I live mine is wrong.
When we told our families that we wanted to get married on a beach in Mexico, she told me she couldn’t go because it was not in a church. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. I begged my family to convince her to come. After discussing my not-in-a-church-wedding with her priest, he advised her that it was not only OK to attend my wedding, but the right thing to do, and so she obliged.
We ended up getting married at my church in New York instead, which was beautiful. It seemed things were better between us. However, our phone conversations still ended in fights — she’d make judgments about my brother’s girlfriend and our parents not eating healthy, and remind me to go church. Thankfully, we’re on opposite coasts so I didn’t have to deal with this banter on a daily basis.
When I did go home to visit my family, I warned my husband that we might offend her with our television viewing preferences (she hasn’t owned a television in years), or with what we ate, or with things we might unconsciously say. (Discussing politics has been taboo in our parents’ household for years).
I guess I was paranoid, because our visits were always pleasant. Like I said, she isn’t a monster. I just found her criticisms hypocritical to the philosophy of the word of the Lord: Love your brother and sisters. No ifs ands or buts.
Dealing with her on Facebook (like anyone else for that matter) was like dealing with a 24-hour opinion stream in real time. Every day she would post new prayers, “inspirational” quotes, RSVPing to “pro-life” events, or linking to anti-Obama YouTube clips.
I posted my typical pro-choice, pro-gay, Democratic rhetoric, sometimes just to show her Yes, I live differently than you, but I’m not going to hell.
We do share one thing: We never lack an opinion, even when no one is asking for it.
I honestly found her right-wing mentality to be a personal attack. It was hurtful. I couldn’t fathom how someone who’s a minority and has been discriminated against, who grew up in a poor, immigrant Mexican environment, full of laughter and love somehow wound up a Republican who supported taking rights away from other people.
As much as I miss being her Facebook friend, I also don’t miss the fighting or getting emails saying, “You are too much.” Now I’m not reminded about our constant differences.
She has said to me on numerous occasions, “You’ll understand when you’re a mother,” and that might well in fact be the case. Right now I simply don’t get how much our relationship has changed.
Perhaps I’m just jealous and sad that I don’t fit into her life anymore the way I did when I was a kid. It’s difficult to put our (my) issues into words, and in such a public manner, but I do so in hopes that God listening and somehow brings her back to me.
Araceli Cruz, a native of Southern California, is a Senior Associate Editor at The Village Voice. She’s also a freelancer currently writing for Rolling Stone and Latina Magazine, among other outlets. She studied journalism at San Francisco State University and lives in New York with her husband Ryan and their cat, Zoe.
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