In Defence Of Not Being BFFs With My Sister
The Debrief: 'Growing up I’d read young adult novels centred on these close sister bonds, sisters who could tell each other anything...'
It was apparent that my sister and I were never going to be ‘best friends’ from before I was even born. When my dad rushed my labouring mother off to hospital amid my impending arrival into the world, my big sister was placed into the care of our next door neighbours for the night.
Thinking that she was excited about the prospect of having a younger sibling, our lovely neighbours eagerly asked her: ‘Which would you like, a brother or a sister?’ My sister told them dead-pan: ‘I would rather have a chocolate biscuit’. She was three. I don’t know many three-year-olds who have mastered the art of humour to that degree which makes me think that she really did just want a chocolate biscuit. She didn’t get a one. Not even a digestive. Instead she got me.
After I was born my mum – desperate for twins – constantly dressed us in matching outfits, which is kind of cute if you’ve never seen The Shining. But that’s where our similarities ended. We even looked completely different. I was an annoyingly hyper chubby cheeked, blue-eyed, blonde-haired bambino, while she was already a supermodel in the making. All long dark hair, big brown eyes and solemn yet beautiful expression. We were the epitome of chalk and cheese.
Our personalities couldn’t be more different, either. My sister is a chronic perfectionist and plans everything to within an inch of her life, whereas I tend to be more spontaneous and rolling with the punches. I’ve always taken more risks, jumping head first into situations whereas growing up, my sister would hold back, organising things meticulously as she went. Looking back, I could have learnt a lot from her, and she probably from me.
When my brother came along, it became apparent that we would never share the same closeness that my friends shared with their female siblings. My brother and I were BEST friends. Joined at the hip. We’d pretend that we were twins and people would buy it. I’m kind of ashamed to say that my sister was left on the sidelines. She never appeared jealous, but it definitely drove a pin in the sisterly bond that other girls would have enjoyed.
Growing up, I’d read young adult novels centred on these close sister bonds, sisters who could tell each other anything. I couldn’t trust my big sister with my secrets. Anything personal I told her, like who I fancied or embarrassing moments, would become public property come Monday lunchtime. I soon realised that I knew very little about her and once found myself reading her diary to find out what the hell was going on in her head (BAD SISTER AWARD, I KNOW).
This all changed when our parents split up. She then left for university within a few months and my brother and I were left picking up the pieces of our ‘broken home’, but our sibling solidarity brought us closer together. While our parents entered their mid-life crisis, we tag-teamed our way through adolescence. My sis and I lived our lives in parallel to one another, completely separate but always within reaching distance. Always in the background like an unspoken presence.
As adults, we’ve simply come to accept our differences and it seems to have made our own relationship stronger, independent of all the pressures that living in the same household manifests. I live 500 miles away from my family in London, whereas she bought a house a few streets from our childhood home. I travelled and lived abroad, whereas my sister settled down and rooted close by.
Now when we spend time together, there’s no fights and no drama like the old days. We make a solid effort to see each other knowing that our time is valuable. We each have much closer relationships elsewhere (I go as far as to refer to my best friends as my sisters, too, in a slightly cringey, sorority girl-esque way) and we know that subjects such as sex are off limits – I once attempted to discuss camel toes with her and she completely seized up. Vagina-talk is not her favourite subject area, which is a shame since my mind is 100% in the gutter…
She’ll never be able to convince me to go shopping with her (the pain is too much to bear), and I can’t see myself ever managing to get her along to see one of my favourite metal bands. Our differences are fundamental, but at the end of the day, that’s what makes our relationship so special and unique. She’s always a phone call or a Whatsapp away.
We can just be, sisters and friends, but not best friends. And that’s just fine by us.
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