Sister sister: is there a formula for everlasting sisterly love? Help me find it!

Just as we know how to hurt each other like no one else, no one can make me laugh like my sisters...
Publish date:
August 15, 2012
sisters, sibling rivalry

Digging around the darkness of my mind for issues (no, I didn’t have to go far) to write about for xoJane it wasn’t long before I stumbled upon the tricky subject of sisters. Thinking that I can’t be the only one desperate to find the formula for everlasting sisterly love and harmony I pitched it.

It wasn’t until Rebecca gave it the green light that I suddenly realised that sisterly relations being delicate as they are, me blabber mouthing about them all over the internet probably wasn’t going to help matters. Still here I am, setting myself up for future fury as the traitor who took our personal battles public. So, when the shit hits the fan I’m expecting you to all have my back. Deal?

The three of us back in the day

Sisters; the most complicated of all personal relationships… in my humble opinion at least. I never wanted sisters. My whole childhood I longed for a brother (chiefly, but not solely because I wanted a Scalextric)… and a dog. I never got either. When my parents brought middle sister home from the hospital I hid under their duvet and demanded they take ‘it’ back because I wanted a boy. Not an auspicious start I admit, but I was three and thus far an only child.

I’m the eldest of three sisters, a position I’d argue has its fair share of cons, although middle and youngest sister would almost certainly argue they’ve got the duff spot too. And so it begins. Whereas brothers might quarrel and give each other the occasional bloody nose, sisters somehow manage to replicate the exact terror of the classroom in the home, and the resulting scars are almost always emotional (although I did once make middle sister bleed with a particularly spiteful pinch).

Me and middle sis - matchy matchy but clearly not twins!

I don’t really remember when we started arguing, or when petty squabbles became relationship-defining disputes. Did I argue with middle sister in the 5 years before little sister arrived? I guess we must have, although I can’t remember us doing so, and in those years we were often dressed in matching outfits and mistaken for twins (mainly by stupid people as I’m three years older so was substantially bigger), and looking back at pictures we look so similar and angelic I can’t imagine it.

There were the obvious fall-outs in the teenage years, which at the time I thought were natural, although now I can see that those are the years when you either grow closer or more distant. Is it weird that I still remember specific arguments from over 10 years ago? Do they? Over time the grievances have grown… deepened… fermented.

Sisterly love

I had hoped that by now, in our twenties, things might have got easier, that I’d know the formula. They haven’t. I don’t. Peace and harmony are as delicate an equilibrium as ever. One misplaced look, flippant comment or joke too far, and it’s all-out war. I don’t suppose it helps much that we’re all still living under the same roof, but I’m certain living apart wouldn’t act as a magic bullet for old wounds.

Little sister often asks if we’d be friends if we weren’t sisters, and the answer from middle sister and I is always a resounding no. And maybe that’s the crux of the issue. It’s not that we don’t love each other, far from it, we love each other deeply, we’re just incredibly different characters.

Whereas youngest sister’s idea of a great night out involves towering heels, tiny skirts and Essex, I’m in heaven in dive bars in East London. Middle sister is teetotal, whereas younger sister bulk buys vodka at duty free. For three people who share the same parents, were brought up in the same house, and attended the same schools, our differences are quite frankly astonishing.

Middle and little sis do some bonding

All of this isn’t to say that we’re constantly at war, we’re really not. There are good times… the best times. Just as we know how to hurt each other like no one else, no one can make me laugh like my sisters. Little sister is without a doubt one of the funniest people I know, and middle sister and I share a very similar sense of humour, and when we’re all sitting round sharing a joke I just want to bottle the moment and keep it with me always.

So – is there something I’m missing? Is there a simple solution for eternal sibling serenity? A failsafe way to keep the good times a rolling? Or are arguments and hurt just par for the course when you share the same DNA and a lifetimes worth of half-remembered grievances?